Wednesday, June 30, 2010

HandMade: The Next Generation

I'd been avoiding it all year. My daughter's kindergarten, that is. Parents (mothers mostly, lets face it) are welcomed, encouraged, well EXPECTED to volunteer in the classroom. Now, I had only one child for a reason. To me, children are like flying volleyballs – manageable in singles, but not multiples. So joining a classroom made up of nine 6 year old girls and 14 (that’s right 14!) boys filled me with dread. But what was to be done? I couldn’t face the other mothers. I’d been whatever the female word for emasculated is by their sheer INVOLVEMENT. I had to step up.

Naturally, I suggested I lead a craft project. At first I thought I might do an actual fabric quilt – you know, maybe have the kids crayon on fabric, then I could take it away and sew it up etc. Then I woke up. Realistically was I going to sew a quilt together before the end of the school year? It was a week away for crying out loud. So I decided on a paper quilt. I spent several evenings cutting up decorative and kid friendly wrapping paper. I cut brown paper shopping bags into 12 inch squares. I bought some rickrack and ribbon from the dollar store.

The day came – first I showed Lucy’s class some quilts that I made. The kids were cute; when I put the quilts on the floor for them to look at they all took turns laying down on them. It really shows how tactile kids are, especially boys. They like to EXPERIENCE things. Then I demonstrated the project: “Cover your 12 inch square with colored paper.” They got the concept quickly and were eager to begin immediately.

It was interesting to see how some kids were very precise and made very neat little quilt blocks, and some were more abstract and unrestrained, even pasting paper well over the edges of their brown paper bases. They all liked choosing the embellishments and, not surprisingly, the dinosaur paper was the most popular.

I had been planning on trimming the squares to make them evenly sized but when I saw how much they had put into pasting things over the edges I couldn’t do it. One kid even made a little peaked roof on her block. Some kids included photos on their blocks which was also lovely.

I had also planned to glue on the blocks down on a backing paper, but seeing how lovely they each were I decided to use painters tape and join them temporarily. On the last day of school their teacher, Mr Matthew, took the “quilt” apart so the kids could take their blocks home. I hope the parents enjoy these little works of art. I certainly enjoyed helping them get made.

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