When I saw Kriste’s post about kid friendly Milk Paint projects, I knew I would have to share some of what went on at my house in the last few days. My kids have been watching me paint with MMSMP for over a year now, but they hadn’t yet given it a try themselves. When they both came to me separately and told me they wanted my help painting signs for my mother’s chicken coop, I knew exactly what kind of paint we would be using…
My kids are a little on the older side. My Girl is 10 and my Boy is 12. They’ve both painted things before but they do still require some level of supervision. And, as I said, they’d never used Milk Paint before so they needed a good deal of instruction as well. I’d really like to teach Milk Paint workshops at some point and I thought this would be great pratice, right? I decided to try and let them do the whole shebang – from choosing their colors to mixing the paint right up through washing the brushes out at the end.
One kid chose Tricycle and the other Typewriter. We used all of the normal tools that I use every time I mix paint. I don’t go fancy – just a plastic cup to put the paint powder in and (the handle end of ) a plastic spoon to mix with. My preference is for adding the powder to the empty cup BEFORE the water – and so that’s how I taught them. I’ll admit that I went ahead and measured out 2 tablespoons of powder for each of them and also gave them 2 tablespoons of water and told them to add it in a little bit at a time. And stir. And stir.
They weren’t prepared for the stirring. I ended up doing it for them. They just didn’t have the stirring stamina. Now, even though I’ve stirred literally hundreds of cups of milk paint – without a single mishap – I took over stirring my daughter’s cup of red paint and immediately flicked a glob of Tricycle into my own right eye. In the same flick, I also got a drop on the front of my sweater and a drop on my new brown leather shoes. I mention this only because these are all things that might happen when you’re working with kids… How I managed to do all of them in the space 2 seconds is beyond me but there you go. Cold water was the answer for all three issues. First I rinsed my eye at the sink. I would NOT recommend putting ANY kind of paint in your eye – but really – it didn’t hurt – I rinsed it well and it was fine. Next I took off my sweater and rinsed the spot of paint under more cold water. It came out with a little bit of work. The spot on my shoe came right off with a wipe from a wet paper towel. The trick to all three problems was to get to them quickly – with my eye obviously being the most important.
Back to the kids! They were making these signs as Christmas gifts for their Granny (my mom). Something I’ve discovered about myself recently is that I can be a bit of a control freak – so I struggled a little bit with how much advice to give the kids on their projects.
Should I tell her that the paint should really be going all in one direction? Preferably with the grain of the wood? That it’s best to stroke from end to end of the little board to avoid brush marks?
Should I tell him that one coat covers pretty well but two coats would give really full coverage?
Should I point out that the overall effect might be improved by painting the edges of the sign as well as the front??
(i admit i did point this out – and the edges did get painted – as you can see)
Sometimes there is a really fine line between helping kids make an important project come out the way they want it to – and taking over the situation. Sometimes I struggle to stay on my own side of that line. Luckily for the kids, when they got to the lettering part of the sign making, I was called away for a few minutes. I had started to “help” my son with getting all of his letters the same size by making some chalk guidelines – but then had to leave the room for a bit.
When I got back…they were done. The kids were actually not even in the kitchen anymore. I had to call them back in to clean up. I think they did an amazing job with the lettering all on their own (except for my “suggestion” that they draw their letters out first with plain white chalk and then paint over the lines).
Both of the kids were really pleased with their end results. And I was relieved! I kew my mom would like them no matter what – but I hate it when the kids themselves are disappointed with the outcome of a project. Kids are a little more reasonable and less apt to melt down the older they get – but their expectations are also higher than when they were younger.
They were SO pleased, in fact, that they went ahead and wrapped the gifts as soon as the paint was dry! Consequently, these haven’t been waxed or oiled or sealed in any way at all. They didn’t even want to erase the extra chalk lines that are still showing. And I was practicing NOT being a control freak. I think they are going to be outdoor signs – so we may well put some serious poly on them… haven’t decided yet.
I’ll try to show you a picture of them when they’re hung up in the chicken coop!