Some people pooh-pooh the commercial end of Valentine's Day, and I get that. I really do. I love to get a gift as much as the next girl, but the best gifts are true expressions of love. Not just the love between romantic partners, but the love between friends, neighbours, parents and children, extended family, found families - whomever you love really.
That's why I think it's nice to make a bit of a fuss about Valentine's Day. Even if you don't buy anything, you can certainly throw around a few extra compliments and firm hugs. Make somebody a hot cup of tea (chocolate chip scones would be even better!). It is in this spirit that I asked the family to paint some Valentine's Day-related dishes with me recently. The boy and the husband chose to do something else instead. Fair enough. The spirit of Valentine's Day doesn't seem to call for forcing people to do things. But my little girl and I had lots of fun with this simple Valentine's Day craft activity.
I've said it before - I'm not the crafting queen. You're not going to get fancy, impressive ideas from this girl. I'm happy just to buy the right supplies for our crafting session and get the project done without having an unpleasant meltdown (me, not the kids). I think it's best to do simple craft projects with kids anyway.
For me, knowing what to buy for a craft or diy project is half the battle. Do you know that overwhelming feeling you get when you don't know what supplies to get and then you just give up on the project? Been there. I initially wanted to paint on plates (flatter surface = easier). But the nice fellow who helped me when I hit the local Michaels store told me that they don't have any food-safe paints in the store. Which makes plates kind of difficult, unless they are purely decorative. I wasn't about to get into online ordering (time constraints), so we went with what the store had - which was Martha Stewart paints for "glass." You can't eat off of this paint, but you can decorate the outside of a bowl, cup or glass.
Each individual Martha Stewart Crafts gloss opaque glass paint colour was $5.99 at my (Canadian) Michaels store. When I was there, they had buy one get one half price. But I chose to buy a set of eight paints and use my handy "get 40 per cent off one item" coupon. So I paid twenty-something bucks for the box. But then I got home and thought, "What am I going to do with all this paint?" and "How many dishes can one family paint?" I get hooked by coupons like that. To top it off, there was no red paint in the box. What I thought was red was actually orange. So we went with Valentine's Day pink and purple. You roll with the punches, right?
I found mugs and bowls for $1 each at the Real Canadian Superstore (a grocery store). They had no cheap plates anyway, so it was kinda meant to be. Any online projects I saw mentioned "ceramic" dishes and paints. To be honest, I don't know what these cheapo mugs are made out of, but the kindly Michaels dude told me that any dishwasher-safe dishes should be good to go for this project. Just don't put dinner in the oven at the same time you bake your paint on, just in case a dish cracks or something. We actually timed this project poorly, so we had a late dinner! Once you bake the paint on, the dish will be washable (although I wouldn't risk the dishwasher!).
If you want to do this artsy, fun Valentine's Day painting craft, here's what you'll need:
dishes to paint on
paint for glassware (I used Martha Stewart Crafts gloss opaque glass paint)
newspaper for work surface
Start by printing out some simple Valentine's Day images. You can either cut them right out of your print-out to create a stencil or using tracing paper to trace the image (so you can re-use the same image again). Then tape your stencil to the dish.
My little gal wanted to paint cupid. The image looked fairly simple, but once she went to cut it out, she found there were too many jagged edges and little bits, so we thought it best to stick with simple hearts.
Squeeze your paint into a palette (or onto a plate or wax paper) and start applying it with a brush.
Secure your stencil on your surface fairly tightly or paint will kind of leak past the edges.
We found the edges of our hearts a little uneven, so we started freehanding it...which led to my girl's mug looking like this...
But it's cute right? I say embrace the imperfections. This project is all about sharing the love!
We had never used this paint before, so we wondered if it would smooth out some in the oven or appear pretty much the way we painted it on. The paint instructions called for air-drying for one hour, putting the dishes into a cool oven, heating it to 350°F, baking for 30 minutes and cooling in the oven.
Here are the baked mugs. For the most part, the paint looks much as it did when we applied it. Areas that were more bare are still more bare. But it did smooth out some. If you toss aside perfection as a goal, crafting with kids can be a whole lot of fun. And watching my little girl proudly enjoy an herbal tea in her newly painted mug made it all worthwhile! Now I'm looking for more dishes to paint with all that paint I bought...
How about you? How will you be celebrating Valentine's Day?