The dreaded craft program

I think I have a lot of good qualities as a librarian. I’m good with computers, I read a lot, I’m patient, I like people – et cetera.

However, I am terrible at crafts.

I mean really terrible. Sufficiently terrible that when the kids find out I’m doing a craft program, they say, “Why are you doing a craft program?? Can’t [more talented co-worker] do it?”

In fairness, that more talented co-worker is exceptionally talented. Kids who attend her craft programs leave with something that you’d pay $20 for at an art fair. We keep trying to convince her to write a book, and that book would be a godsend to crafty types everywhere. I don’t think my crafts would look half so bad if they weren’t being compared to hers.

But, you know, they are. And now I have a reputation for making terrible crafts. I’ve had some successes – I’m still proud of the Spongebob ornaments – but I’ve had a number of misfires, too. The worst of these, and the reason the kids dread my craft programs so much, took place during a Valentine’s day program. Talented co-worker had given me what she described as “an incredibly easy” craft project for them. There was just one tricky thing – the paper had to be folded a certain way before you glued everything together. Other than that, she said, I couldn’t mess it up.

HA. Of course, after being specifically warned about this one tricky thing, I did it exactly wrong, and twenty kids held up these weird glob-shaped things that should have been adorable heart mobiles. One of my regulars now chants, “Don’t screw up!” every time I’m gluing something at the desk.

So now the kids dread my craft programs, and frankly, so do I. If I don’t have an Oriental Trading kit to fall back on, a lot of my crafts lately have been things that you actually can’t screw up – like my back-to-school program last month, where I bought a bunch of foam shapes and told them to decorate a ten-cent folder. Woohoo.

I realized yesterday that I was supposed to do a craft program today. Worse: a tween craft program. I can get away with “gluing stuff to other stuff” crafts with the little kids, but the tweens will not tolerate it. With no theme and no ideas, I figured I’d go to Michaels before work and hope for the best.

Believe it or not, it worked out. You guys, I love Michaels. They had all these wooden things – little boxes, picture frames, doll furniture, whatever – for a dollar each. That was pretty much my budget. I bought a bunch of frames and a bunch of the little boxes, put them out on the table with some paints and more stick-on foam things – so basically the same thing as the folder craft, but with nicer base materials – and they loved it. Word to the wise, though: the little boxes are not jewelry boxes, as much as they might look like it. They are treasure boxes, and even the boys were fighting over them. (One kid painted his black on the outside and dark red on the inside, and said it was a vampire coffin. Ooookay.)

I realize that “wait until the last second and then go to the craft store and buy whatever is on sale” is maybe not the best lesson to take from my experience, but it’s the one I got. I will never fear crafts again.

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