Crafting lessons from my son

My five year old son has taken quite an interest in arts and crafts - a real chip off the old block.  But what is interesting to me is the difference in how we approach a task.

He wanted to help me make salt dough ornaments.  These were a new project for me, although it seemed so easy I couldn't believe there would be any problems with it.  Nonetheless, the clay was sticking, adding more flour to the board when rolling it out made it feel too dry, the stamps we were using started falling apart, and so forth.  I began to get frustrated when the beautiful designs I had in my imagination were not coming into fruition.  But Micah was just enjoying stamping the clay, and couldn't understand why Mommy was getting frustrated.  I decided to stop a minute and just try it his way.  Even though the creations were not up to my "standards", I went ahead and baked them.

Yet after applying some paint, lo and behold, they came out beautifully.  They are imperfect, and maybe that's a good thing.  They are beautiful because they were made with love, and we had a good time.  Truthfully, my adult and "serious artist" mindset can sometimes be an imposition in making art.  Playing is really important.  And sometimes the results come out better than you were expecting.  I'm grateful to my son for this lesson, especially important when I become blocked creatively.  Stop taking yourself so seriously!  Have fun!  It's salt dough!  And, sure enough, fun and play turned into beauty.

Rachel Blackmon

Rachel Blackmon is an artist, writer, and teacher in New York City.