I’ve always stood by the belief that if you want to bring the best out of a person’s work then you have to give them the best tools for the job.
The phrase ‘a bad workman always blames his tools’ might be a bit flippant, but I’m on the side of the workman – bad tools will always produce bad work.
We generally accept this truism in the adult world, yet we seem retitcent to apply it to our budding artists and workers of the future – our children! Time and again I cringe as I see the, forgive me, crap peddled as ‘children’s supplies’ in stores up and down the land. The cheap crayons, gritty paint, the bendy brushes, cheap paper and acrylic nature of most craft things. These things are just awful – cheap in construction, impossible for a skilled artist to bend the tool to will to produce competent work, yet we expect those just learning to be able to produce works they are proud of!
I myself detest acrylic yarn, for example, and I remember the feel of the stuff from when I was four years old and being taught to knit on plastic needles. My goodness, the static electricity it produced was enough to power a lightbulb. I hated the feel of it, the squeaky sound of it (which put my teeth on edge) and what is more, it produced poor results putting me off knitting as a bad lot until in my thirties. There may have been the assumption that ‘best’ was to be saved until I was older, more experienced and better at knitting. What happened instead was that inferior supplies simply killed the desire to go on.
I am therefore very careful when choosing supplies for my children, and as well as messy craft paint for just messing around with, we have ‘the good stuff’ too, which I encourage them to use thoughtfully and with respect. I believe if it isn’t good enough for me to use then it isn’t good enough for my children either. But likewise, if I have invested in the ‘good stuff’ I do expect respect too.
The fact that we leave any craft session wanting to do it all over again is a good indicator that the experience was a pleasant one, fueling a desire for more.
One day these scribbles may become true masterpieces, built on a solid foundation of respecting the worker enough to give them the quality tools for their work.
And even if no masterpiece is forthcoming, the very fact that my babes have had the experience of creating without impediment is more than good enough for me.
*** *** ***