My super-adorable 7 year old niece was given a big assignment to complete over her school holidays. She was to decorate a box and fill it with things from her life. She was allowed to get help with it, so over a weekend we created “The World of Me”.
This all happened at a family get-together, and I didn’t have any art supplies with me. So we started gathering materials at the local op-shop. I found a fab old Reader’s Digest record set called “Swingin Safari’ circa 1970. Inside the sturdy clam-shell box were 10 records, each in their own sleeves. I suggested to Sophie that we could ditch the records and just use the sleeves like giant envelopes and make each one a different part of her life.
(I also found a couple of Madonna singles – Like a Virgin and Burning Up…. and a Blondie Single – total SCORE!).
Then we went to the cheapie craft shop and got two chunky chalk markers ( hot pink and neon green), a tub of gesso, some paintbrushes, a tube of ‘Southern Ocean Blue’ acrylic paint from Matisse and a jar of ‘Decoupage’ glue.
And then we had a wonderful time, painting, gluing and writing. This kid has a talent for collage! On the cover of the box, i gessoed out all the print and just left a few neon stripes of 70’s chic. Meanwhile Sophie cut her name out of magazine pics of flowers.
For the record sleeves, we painted them with a mix of gesso and the blue acrylic paint ( Soph picked the colour). The surface was lovely and toothy and ready for whatever she wanted to do next.
We quickly discovered that the thick, vivid chalk markers were FANTASTIC for her to write with. Sophie changed ‘The World of ‘Swingin Safari” to The World of Me, Sophie’s World of Pets, Sophie’s World of Friends and Sophie’s world of Family.
Sophie sat down with her grandpa and selected photos from his archives of all the pics she wanted to put in the envelopes. They had a lovely time laughing at all the photos and printing them out.
At the op shop we also found some of the magazines that I used to write for, so we painted a page from that, I drew a mermaid and Sophie wrote a story about me.
In the Pets Envelope, Sophie found magazine pictures of pets similar to hers, and she used them as a base to create her stories on. I am going to cry when she learns how to spell… eventually she will be told that Aunte Jane is spelled with a y – but for now i am an Aunte and Tinsel is Tinsow. Chicens and penguns are free to roam. Little kiddos are so freeking cute!
All of this happened during an awesome family get-together, so we didn’t work away at it full time, but bit by bit, Sophie’s project came together. After she went to bed each night, I covered all of the finished pages and the outside of the box in the Decoupage medium. It dried to a lovely glossy sheen. I will definitely be doing that to some of my journal pages!
I don’t know yet how the assignment will be received, but we had a blast making it. Sophie got to think about her life and the people in it. She got to really revel in that gorgeous “centre-of-the-universe” feeling that exists when we are children ( hopefully!).
A child’s fearlessness with their drawing and the way they just launch into colours so intuitively is such fun to be around. Sophie isn’t a bossy person, but she had no qualms in directing my efforts.
I hope you get to help on a little one’s assignment soon – I think it may be very good for the creative muse in the attending adult. And if you are a mummy and get to do this often, well colour me neon green!