Process and Product

So a bit about me. I am the mother of two now grown once precocious daughters, a 25 year veteran Head Start Teacher/Administrator, maker of theater and madrigal costumes, needle crafter, writer of prose and the occasional piece of fiction. I am an avid reader and a sometimes writer. I entered Firefly fandom, eventually found Keira http://keiramarcos.com/ who lead me to LadyHolder http://ladyholder.com/ and the entire world of fan fiction. My tastes have expanded greatly but my bedrocks are still Firefly, SGA, NCIS, H50 and The Sentinel.

A friend of mine mentioned the other day that she was rather unhappy that her granddaughter was bringing home craft/art projects from her preschool that were just too “perfect” and obviously being totally adult directed with little or no room for individual creativity and exploration. It reminded me of the times my students and my own children would get involved in a craft or art project only to abandon it because it had not been the end product but the process of making that had intrigued them. My favorite thing is to provide a wealth of materials then just stand back and see what comes from it. With no preconceived end product there can be no failure, only paths to explore, tweek, backtrack and even abandon without “failing”.
A favorite bit of creativity came from one of my Head Start students years ago.. His teacher called me on to the room because Austin wanted to put a “wiener” on his bear…after all it was a boy and like himself would need one. Agreeing that was so we made and included one. Then we talked some more and concluded he might want to wear some pants if he was going to be out in public on the art wall for Parent Night. (I will admit I loved the look on his mom’s face when we took it off the wall and showed her the back side.)
This set me to thinking about my own creative writing process…or lack thereof. How often we as adults often get bogged down in perfecting something and lose the joy of creating. I find this especially true in my writing. Instead of letting my mind take me where it will I get so enmeshed in trying to find the perfect word/phrase I get nothing written at all and end up feeling angry and frustrated. What should have been a joy and a release has turned to drudgery. I need to remember sitting at the craft table with my children sharing play dough, laughing, creating, squeezing and sniffing whatever scents we had added. Turning it into tacos, snails, shapes and things from outer space. So I say unto you go forth and treat each project as if it were play dough. Squish it between your fingers, smell it, feel free to roll it up in a ball and start over without angst or guilt. Enjoy the process and eventually the product will leave you satisfied .
In the spirit of that I leave you with a recipe for my favorite homemade play dough….enjoy. It is a great stress reliever.

Make your own Play Dough
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (any extract, candy flavoring, sugar free jello or essential oil will work)
Options: food coloring or frosting colorings can be added before or after cooking
Recipe can be doubled…more than that becomes difficult to cook evenly
Place all ingredients except the vanilla (or scent of choice) on a pot or electric wok on medium. If using the jello add before cooking. Stir constantly until the mixture is no longer sticky. This will take a few minutes and a fair amount of muscle. Keep the mixture moving to keep it from over cooking in some spots and still being sticky in others. When it resembles a ball of bread dough instead of cream of wheat remove it from the pot and allow to cool s bit. It is ok if you have a few spots that look a bit crusty. After it cools enough to handle without burning your fingers sprinkle the vanilla over the ball and knead it until it is smooth and all the vanilla is incorporated. If it still feels a bit too sticky when the children begin to us it a bit more flour can be worked in. This will keep on the shelf longer than uncooked doughs and to my mind has a much better texture. Keeping it in the refrigerator will also extend its shelf life.

5 thoughts on “Process and Product

  1. Thanks for being my guest, sweets.
    I never got the cookie cutter projects, either. They do very little for a child when it comes to exploring crafts. Hell, they do little for adults, for that matter (not counting patterns and the like because even there we all bring an element of individuality to our projects).
    How different is the homemade play dough from storebought, texture-wise?

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    1. it smells godawful to me and the texture always made me twitchy lol. I may just try your recipe out and see if that works better, though I have no idea who I’d give it to since I don’t know what ages kids play with play doh anymore

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