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Blooming Artist

April 4, 2009

Is it me, or were those last two posts, well, boring.  It’s okay.  You can tell me.  I can take it.

In an effort to keep things mildly interesting, I’m going to switch speeds here, and post something about my kids.  My oldest daughter, to be exact.  But first a little backstory, which does, in fact, tie in to kitchen witch.

At the end of this month, I will participate in a street fair in my town called Malvern Blooms Home and Garden Show.  This event will host the usual suspects: artisans, craftsmen, face painting, live music and food vendors.  This last is where I (and my cookies) fit in.  It is also something that keeps me busy before the actual event, as I volunteer as an organizer for the food vendors.  So, my involvement is two-fold: volunteer and vendor.

Anyway, I have been participating on both levels since the twice-yearly festivals started in 2006.  My older daughter, Katie, has been around for each and every one.  In fact, when I first volunteered (or was recruited, I forget), I actually dragged Katie to the meetings with me.  Come to think of it, the planning committee was so desperate for help that the event coordinator suggested I bring her.  On the bright side, who doesn’t like to do a little coloring while discussing fund-raising?

For the most part, Katie was pretty easy at the meetings, although it is hard now to remember the details.  Perhaps she wasn’t that easy, but is easy now, and I’m transferring memories or deconstructing history or just plain amnesiac.  She doesn’t go to the meetings with me anymore, but three years after the maiden voyage, the festivals almost plan themselves.  Plus, the whole shebang is now in the very capable hands of my neighbor, so we do a lot of the work at her house while my daughter and her son play, practice their rock band, or sit mesmerized in front of Nickelodeon, absorbing every last absurdity uttered by Sponge Bob, et. al.

Let me steer this post back to its origins.  After all the planning for this event, the big day finally arrives and it feels like a Winston Cup race is taking place in our small burg.  I change hats from volunteer to vendor, my husband dons his role as “best roadie ever,” and the kids bounce off the nearest proverbial wall all day long until they crash in a heap in a stroller or car seat or sling.  For three years now, Katie has experienced the thrill of the big day, twice a year watching me greet the masses and feed them cookies and brownies and scones (oh, my!) and it never fails to bring up one question.  “When can I have my own booth?”

For the last five events, without fail, she has begged me to let her set up her own stand and sell something anything PLEASE! MOM!  I can draw pictures and sell them, or collect grocery bags and sell them, or sell paper cups with pennies in them.  PLEASE!  I’m serious!  I have great IDEAS!

And, for the most part, she does not.  Have great ideas.  About things to sell at a street festival, that is.  As highlighted above.  Which, give her a break, she’s five, but try to tell her that, you know? 

So, a little maternal redirection was perpetrated, and this year we have found two items that, if all goes as planned, Katie will be offering for the benefit of the people (and the enlargement of her pink fish change purse) at this month’s festival. 

(Understand that my crafting abilities must have been smoked out when they gave my mother the spinal block at delivery.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be crafty, but I don’t have the time or patience or, oh yeah, talent for it.  So it took Herculean effort to devise a project that both my five-year-old and myself could muster.)

Another factor in the whole equation is that Katie’s expectations are inversely proportional to her crafting abilities at this tender age.  Whereas she fully expects to sell mass quantities of stick figure drawings on sheaves of lined legal pad paper, and be able to charge you five dollars for the privilege of hanging one of her originals on yourrefrigerator, I am more than eager to prevent ultimate heartbreak when she learns the hard way what sells and what doesn’t.  (Because a day that includes moon-bouncing, elephant ears, several chocolate chip scones, more moon bouncing, playground chaos, and throngs of people around you, doesn’t need the added emotional kicker of failing to sell your precious, little-girl, hope-filled, but not entirely practical wares.)

So, I went with hand-painted wooden frames from IKEA.  This is something I did as a music teacher when the holidays would roll around and I wanted an affordable, yet customizable gift.  A brightly painted frame, with a student’s name written in repeating fashion on all four sides in the alternating colors of the rainbow did the trick every time.

And yet, this did not bear out on our first attempt at painting, wherein my daughter’s inital composition features a somewhat unintelligible rendering of swords.  Yes, swords.  So that, in her words, “the boys will have something to buy.”

Which also explains why, after desperately trying to bite my tongue as we worked on these frames together, I finally succumbed to my obsessive compulsive need to pretty things up, just a bit.  Not the swords.  Those are, possibly, beyond help.  And for all I know, the neighbor whose rock band she’s in might just dig it.  But on a few, I did add a little this or a little that.  Not every frame, just one or two.

 In the process, Katie and I actually found a nice rhythm in our work, where she would create a base image and then ask me to place dots of paint along the surface.  She had tried doing the dotting herself, but the little tubes of paint are tricky, and she ended up with something more akin to beads of paint.  And though I tried to coach her through it, to produce a more delicate result, I regret it now.  Because she seems gun-shy of any painting that requires finesse.  (Understand that throughout this whole process, I fought with myself over which was more important: fostering her creative freedom, or guiding her a bit to ensure that she sells at least one frame.  Because she is really so excited and confident in the end result.  So I went with the latter, not knowing who might take it harder if her joyous expectations were to go unfulfilled.)

In the end though, I think you’ll agree that we have a nice assortment of frames, that will cost the consumer somwhere in the neighborhood of two whole dollars.  Which means, if she sells them all, she might make thirty.  Which will be a twenty dollar profit, after she pays me back for the frames. 

Hey, if her own mother won’t teach her about margins, who will?

this year's "must have"

this year's "must have"

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