Ode to the Creative Mess-maker

Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

Ode to the Creative Mess-maker

Or How to Avoid Aggravating your In-laws

Guerilla Art KitSitting in the car last weekend with my 10-year-old niece and brother-in-law, my niece says to me, “Remember that time when you were living with my mom and dad and you painted your furniture with glitter and it got ALL over the house, and my dad was furious!” 

“Er…no, I don’t remember that.”  Awkward silence. 

Gleefully, from the back seat, “Oh, yes. It happened. My mom told me all about it.”

“Seriously, I have no memory of that, whatsoever.” More dead silence. “Okay, fine,” I stammer. The lawyer's daughter has me beat. She has two witnesses, a suspect with no alibi and an incriminating record of related past transgressions. “Sounds like something I might do, I guess.” I turn and look out the window, as my niece's father stares mutely at the stretch of road before us. I wrack my brain trying to think of any way to change the subject for the remainder of what seems to have become the longest car ride ever.  Turns out that this is NOT one of those stories that we would all "laugh about someday".   

The thing is, I really don’t remember doing this. But I have to confess that it probably happened just like she said.  My life has been one long series of creative messes, including
  • Borrowing all of my mother’s good cooking pots to collect water from our gutters (in the course of playing “rain farmer”);
  • Altering any number of previously treasured household artifacts;
  • Driving nails through all my clothes to make them into a wall collage; and
  • Stealing my parents’ check boxes, christening them after Mikado characters, and launching them down the creek.
Crafty ChloeSo for those like-minded souls out there, I have compiled some suggestions for a few fun and only moderately destructive ways you can satisfy your own creative impulses this summer.
  • Take a peek at The Guerrilla Art Kit, grab some colored chalk, and try out decorating the sidewalk with some of your favorite quotes.
  • Crack open Collage Unleashed, with a vast variety of inspiring ideas for piecing together words and images in delightful new ways.
  • Check out our new picture book, Mimi’s Dada Catifesto, and discover ways to turn everyday life into a festival of the absurd.
  • Grab some old T-shirts and show them no mercy, using some of the stylish and simple suggestions from Generation T.
  • Pick up Web Comics for Teens, and show off your creative skills online. 
  • If you have smaller children at home, try reading Crafty Chloe, a beautifully illustrated story about a resourceful little girl with imagination, style, and heart.
And if you and your young ones prefer less solitary mess-making activities, please consider joining us at Watha T. every Monday at 4  p.m. for "Crafternoons" in the childrens department, where we really get our mess on!  For the young at heart, but well into adulthood, you can also check out the DC Library "Creative Class" and learn some new skills to making beautiful, if sometimes messy, things. 

Whatever your passions, I highly encourage you to visit your local library this summer for more tips on how you can tap into your inner mess-maker. Happy splattering, pasting, mixing, shredding, and scribbling! Just remember, not everyone may love glitter on the furniture as much as you do.

--Elaine Pelton