Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Children’s Booth at the Fourth Street Festival…

Labor day weekend is fast approaching—two weeks to go and counting down fast. For last year’s fair I organized a community tree project that now stands in city hall. I cut hundreds of wooden leaves that were painted and decorated by (mostly) kids and (a few) adults using paints, markers, glue, glitter and small objects that I’d collected throughout the year. Amy Brier sculpted a beautiful limestone trunk for the project and I fashioned tree branches to support the leaves. Each leaf had a small hole drilled in it for attachment to the branches, and hundreds of leaves were decorated during the fair. I didn’t get to see most of the process, but all the reports from volunteers, friends and family confirmed that everyone had a good time. Of course nothing creates high expectations like success, so this week has been devoted to bringing this year’s project to fruition. A while back I had a vision for how to create a community mosaic built upon the BEAD (Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District) logo and now is the time when things have to be built, painted, and organized.

My inner child would like me to translate that last sentence for you. Arrrgggghhhh! WHAT WAS I THINKING? Like last year, this has turned into a HUGE project. With everything else going on to get ready for the show (and just be Mom) I’m going crazy! The good news is that much came together this week. The basic plan was to create four 3x3’ panels, each one painted one of the four BEAD colors with black paint on the reverse side. The back has a hidden box made out of pine, kind of like a shadow box you can’t see (it’s in the shadows), that will float the display off the wall. I bought a bunch of hardware to assemble it and painted the back. I do like to paint, so that’s good, but it’s monochromatic, so that’s less good. The panels I purchased from Lowe’s as ¼ inch plywood. I was delighted to learn that they’ll cut the plywood I’m about to buy as many times as I want. That’s great! The helpful fellow who likes saws almost as much as I do cut the panels for me. Sadly, he wouldn’t make diagonal cuts, so my trusty jigsaw was called upon to lop off the corners. Rrrrmmmm. I love the sound of power tools! Finding small samples of the BEAD colors for the front of the panels was easy, thanks to Lowe’s, who sell sample paints in half pint containers. The treasures that will form the mosaic are largely collected and organized, with lots of help from other people. The Creek/Love classroom at Roger’s elementary, current educational home of my younger son, helped sort a ton of beads into the colors I need for each panel. I’ve visited Opportunity House and the Recycle Center to top off the glue-able toys and knick-knacks I’ve been collecting all year. Cathy Ruesink at Opp House generously let me scavenge through and buy many small objects of appropriate colors that I needed. I now have three-gallon bags for each of the four panels. A quick stop at Big Lots netted forty bottles of white glue for the project, to supplement the 30 partially filled bottles from last year. I can almost hear my inner child: it’s coming together! It’s going to work! I hope she’s right!

The other big news from last week has the same themes of art, kids and crazy times. My son Jacob had his seventh birthday party in the backyard with 11 friends and an alien theme. Preparation for that event involved attaching an upright plywood sheet to an old drawer as a base, cutting round holes in the plywood and painting the whole thing black. A few numbers were added to the front for scoring, some bags were filled with rice for tossing and voila—we had a game. The boys and I also painted planets and stars on a big sheet of cardboard for ‘pin the tail on the alien’ and we created a big paper mache alien to fill with candy and smash open with an alien blaster. We raced around the backyard with alien eggs on spoons (no one seemed to concerned when they broke). We even filled up a big bucket with water balloons and attacked our stalwart oak tree in the back, which had the misfortune to be covered with paper bearing pictures of attacking alien ships that the boys drew. The tree seemed to enjoy getting all the attention and water, but the hosta leaves were covered in colorful balloon debris. Add cake, ice cream and screaming kids and you’ve got a party!

Until next week…

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