No Such Thing as a Mistake

There are NO MISTAKES in art. At least that's what we tell ourselves. Every year I prepare a three-ring binder full of activities for our eldest granddaughters to enjoy while they're with us during the summer. I peruse the Internet, parenting websites and, of course, that sneaky ol' time-stealer, Pinterest!

Last year, I came across melted crayon art on Pinterest that looked interesting, so naturally I thought this activity should be added to the binder. I researched how-to pages and videos, stocked up on crayons and spent hours peeling the paper wrapping from each and every one of them so it wouldn't get in the way during the melting process. Then I printed out selected melted crayon creations so we might attempt similar ones. Tucked away in my binder, I didn't give this project another thought until the girls arrived.

Early one morning and excited about this art form, we set up in the kitchen -- hair dryer plugged in and ready to go. We taped a selection of crayons to cardboard, slipped a canvas board beneath them to catch the melting wax, turned on the hair dryer, and ... disaster and disappointment. EPIC FAIL! The crayons weren't melting the way they should or didn't melt at all. I was pissed! And much to my discredit, I voiced my rage and anger. All that effort of shopping and planning for naught. Jain and Sofia, though, did not seem to mind at all. In fact, Jain just took her canvas and drew a picture on it that looked similar to what we were trying to create with melted crayon. She did exactly what the book Beautiful Oops! teaches, that there are no mistakes. Anything created can turn into something else just as beautiful. Hoo, boy! Lesson learned the hard way, Dandy. Children are pliable and forgiving and I should be, too. They are so willing to learn new things and find the journey as much fun as the result. On to something else. Another craft, another artistic endeavor. The failed crayon event was over in their minds way before it was in mine.

So, what did I learn from this? Do NOT take for granted that even though you're an artsy-craftsy person you're going to be able to do everything that comes down the pike -- or Pinterest. What they don't tell you on these websites is that they might have been doing these crafts for a long time before they post them. They might have months or years of experience. They might be art teachers. They might have EXPERIMENTED WITH THE ART FORM BEFORE THEY SHARED IT WITH OTHERS! There! That last one is the most valuable lesson I learned. That and don't get so upset if something doesn't work. Your grandchildren just want to be with you, working on projects together, sharing in the joy of creativity. They don't give a hoot if something doesn't work. So, LET. IT. GO. And don't be so hard on yourself. No one is perfect. Forgive yourself if you get upset and then pledge to try not to let it happen again.

Artful Parent is one of my very favorite websites and Facebook pages for finding art projects to do with children. Earlier this year I discovered "DIY Marbled Paper the Easy Way," complete with video as well as written instructions. So pretty! And so easy, the title says. "Oh no you don't," I warned myself. Let's see just exactly how easy this is. I set up my work space and experimented to be sure it was indeed a project we could all do together. Eureka! It is just as simple as they say, albeit messy. So now I know it definitely is a craft we can accomplish with stunning results. And we'll need paper towels. Lots and lots of paper towels. I even made some improvements in the process with tools other than what the website recommends.

I have a few other crafts to test before Jain and Sofia arrive, and even one I won't because I want that project to be a surprisingly fun artistic experiment from beginning to end. I promise not to get upset if it doesn't come to fruition. Because nothing is worse than not trying at all. "Mistakes" are just an opportunity to learn and do better.