One of the fun things about having older kids (at last count, mine are 10 and 11), is that they can really take charge of their own craft projects now. They can handle the materials carefully and with intention, and–for better or worse!–they have their own vision about the outcome.
An upcycling book that the kids have been into lately is This Belongs to Me. (Full disclosure: I DID receive this for free from a publicist, but that was, like, over three years ago. I doubt she’s still waiting with bated breath to hear from me about it.) This Belongs to Me shows kids different techniques for personalizing their stuff, from headphones to hoodies to bedspreads, and it’s great, because making their own stuff unique and personal is just the kind of thing that kids who are my kids’ ages like to do.
Last week, both of my kids did the “Graffiti Your Jeans” project from This Belongs to Me. They followed the book’s tutorial to the letter and pretty much independently–another fun thing about having older kids!
I did suggest and help the kids with one step that wasn’t listed in the tute; I often think it looks nice, when you’re painting something without using a stencil, to go back around the edges of your work with a Sharpie after the paint is dry. I think it makes the edges look neat and clean, and that the dark outline generally looks good with whatever you’ve painted.
A great thing about This Belongs to Me is that it doesn’t offer instructions for super-specific craft projects, the way that craft books for adults often do. Instead, this book teaches specific techniques for various methods and media, and actually provides space in the book for a kid to “freestyle” her own design. This is awesome because kids don’t want to know WHAT to draw on their Converse–they know much better than you which Pokemon should go on their sneaks, thank you very much!–but they do need to know HOW to do it in a way that looks great and will last for a long time. And (and maybe this is just my kids, but I kind of doubt it) they also don’t want to necessarily learn how to graffiti their stuff from, you know, their mom.
After reading this book, then, kids will know how to draw on their Converse (the secret is waterproofing spray!), applique on their hoodies, stencil on their bookbags, linoleum block print on their thank-you notes, batik their curtains, decoupage their desks, and so on.
And, of course, they’ll know how to paint their jeans. Because who cares if it came from Goodwill if it’s got your own personal dragon logo painted on the pocket?