Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Open Letter to Victoria's Secret

Here's the letter I posted on Facebook that was waaaay more popular than I thought it would be:
I hadn't actually sent anything to VS when I posted it (it was just one of those funny late night type of things I make sometimes) but now people want to know how Aunt Vicki replied, so I'm sending it now. I'll let you know what the response is (if I get one).

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Why I charge $20

When I first started my art class I originally envisioned about 10, maybe 15, kids meeting up in the library's meeting room to make some cute arts and craft projects. I made some calls, got the room, made a lesson plan, and gathered all the supplies (with no need to charge anything because the room was free and I had more than enough supplies for 10 kids).
I announced the class.
Two families came.
Counting myself, there were 6 people there.
The next week there were 16 kids plus their parents.
The week after that there were over 30 kids who wanted to come so I split them into two groups that I taught back to back.
Plus there was a wait list.
A really really ridiculously long wait list.
I spent countless hours on the phone and writing emails trying to find a new location.
The wait list grew.
I drove around making notes about possible locations, then I'd go home and make the corresponding phone calls/ e-mails.
I hoped that our city council would want to support art classes for homeschool students and offer us a place that we could meet. I went to a meeting, and made my case, but wasn't given a ready answer. I got the impression they wanted to say no, but didn't want to be bad guys about it. A few days later the place I'd hoped they'd let us use burned down.
The day after that I got a phone call.
It wasn't from someone on city council.
It wasn't from one of the mega churches I contacted.
It was the pastor of a small local church.
The pastor! Not a secretary!
Out of the dozens of places I'd inquired about, I thought it had been one of the least likely to help.
I didn't know anyone there and no one in my class had ties to the church.
They didn't have an obvious excess of resources to offer, but they were the only ones that stepped up and offered us a place to meet for just a very small fee! With seating for 85 people, plastic tables and chairs, and linoleum floors it was the perfect place for us to have an art class!

I announced our new location and my "lesson plan."
I tried to take a head count as people came in the door, but gave up once I hit 100.
It was like a dream come true!
Everywhere I looked there were kids making stuff and having fun.
I went home and planned months of classes, and quicly realized I couldn't keep doing it with my current budget. I just don't have that kind of personal income, and doing anything at all for that number of people gets expensive really really quickly. Looking at my 3 month's worth of lesson plans and projects I knew I'd have to start charging something, so I decided to break it up into two groups- easy peasy fun crafts that anyone of any age could enjoy, and art focused classes that were a little more challenging and included a brief art history lesson. I thought that the art focused class would be mostly older students, but surprisingly, the students who came to the "harder" class were the exact same people who came to the "easy" crafts class. So I tweaked my plans a little bit so that both classes could be enjoyed by all age groups. My supplies that I had on hand dried up a lot faster than I thought they would. I'd print almost a hundred pages on my printer nearly every class. There just wasn't any room in my personal budget to maintain such an huge undertaking. I tried to come up with a way to fund the classes without excluding people on a tight budget.

I decided that my craftsy fun class would be free and I would charge $20 per month for my artsy class. Classes would meet on alternating Thursdays (crafty one week, artsy the next). I followed Dave Ramsey's advice and made an envelope for the class, and put all the money collected into that envelope. I have to figure out a way to make the money in that envelope fund everything. Without that envelope there would be no free classes.
The only problem is waaaaaay more people ONLY come to classes that are free rather than pay $20 per month and have access to all the classes. I decided that I would put out a tip jar for donations (actually it's a cute brown paper bag) thinking that the people who only come to free classes would be happy to leave a dollar or two per kid. I was wrong.
At my last free class I collected exactly $4 in donations. 
 I had toyed around with the idea of making all the classes free and just leaving out the tip jar, but after that I knew that idea wouldn't work. Soon the envelope would be empty and we couldn't have classes at all because there wouldn't be anything to even pay the tiny rent for the room. So I thought maybe people are only coming to the free classes because they can't afford to pay $20 per child if they have multiple kids and I wouldn't ever want any sibling to be left out. Also, I hated the idea of any kid being left out ever. As long as I am having a class no kid will be excluded because of money, goshdarnit! So I told everyone that if you could honestly only afford to pay for one kid, then go ahead and pay for one and bring the rest! I also let the group know that if there are families who honestly can't afford $20 per month, but want to come, to just come and pay what they can. I know, I'm an optimist (and probably an idiot) for thinking the best of people, but I really do want it to be about the kids, and sharing my love of art, and NOT about money. Unfortunately, I just can't do one without the other. I hope the group realizes that there is not some big fund for this class. I started it with money out my pocket and the supplies from my own closet. I need to charge $20 per month per kid in order to keep this amazing class going. I know that might sound like a lot for an art class, but if you had any idea of what goes into it, you'd realize that's nothing.

Since people are already getting 2 classes per month free, some people may think that each artsy class costs $10. It doesn't. That $20 per month I collect goes into buying supplies for not only the artsy class, but also the crafts we do in the crafts class. It goes to paying awesome speakers to come share with us (I already had to cancel an amazing one because the envelope got too low). That's four classes per month, so it's down to $5 per class. You may say "yeah, but my kid isn't using up $5 worth of supplies every week" well, maybe, but do you see those kids at the table across from you who's kids aren't wearing as nice of clothes as yours are? They could only afford $8 for the month, so now it's down to a budget of about $3 per kid per class. Then I pay the church a small amount to make up for the enormous amount of water, electricity, and wear & tear that comes with a group as big as ours.

Art class people I seriously love you. Really, I do, because I have always wanted to teach art to kids, and to have such an enthusiastic and amazing group like ours is beyond what I ever could have imagined. I want to keep doing this for as long as I possibly can, but that's really all up to you. I don't WANT to charge $20 per month, but I NEED to in order to keep this class going. I'm not trying to get rich, I'm just trying to not go broke doing it. Please please please, if you are enjoying art classes, try to find $20 in your budget to pay for them so they can continue.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Art Class!

Hi Homeschoolers! Last week was AMAZING! I tried to take a head count of how many people were at my class last week but I stopped trying to keep track once I got to 100 people. I know a lot of people wanted to come, but couldn't so I thought I'd post a link to my pinterest board with some of the projects we've done so far.

Jackson Pollock Wrap Sheet

This is the third artist wrap sheet I made for the art class I teach for local homeschool kids. Each week we "time travel" back to learn about great artists in history, then make art in their style. I'm going to post the wrap sheets I make here from time to time.

Hello dear time travelers! If you're going to the 40's/50's make sure to check out Jackson Pollock at work!

I originally made this for my art for homeschoolers class, but it's free for personal use- just right click/save. Please use your own discretion when teaching young children about artists' lives, as some details may not be appropriate for all ages.

Andy Warhol Wrap Sheet

Hello time travelers! If you need to take a trip to the 60's/70's use my handy artist wrap sheet to learn about Andy Warhol!

I originally made this for my art for homeschoolers class, but it's free for personal use- just right click/save. Please use your own discretion when teaching young children about artists' lives, as some details may not be appropriate for all ages.

Keith Haring Worksheet

Hi Time Travelers! If you missed our trip back to the 80's to visit Keith Haring, here's the artist wrap sheet I made. Feel free to right click/save for your own personal use. Hope you can make it to our next class!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Best My Little Pony Cake Ever

Dr A wanted to get Elsie one of the huge fancy My Little Pony cakes like he'd seen online for her fourth birthday party.

I called all over town trying to get a feel for how much it would cost to make a cake like that for about 60 people. Turns out the going rate is well over $200 for a large, well decorated cake!

SO I went to my local supermarket where I got a three tiered cake with blue ombre icing (but no decorations) for less than half the price of every other baker in town.

Then I made a bunch of hearts, stars and clouds and stuck them into the cake, and topped the whole thing with Princess Twilight's hot air balloon. (Elsie already had the balloon I just had to wash it to make sure it was clean enough to use.)

The end result was pretty great!

My girl waiting impatiently to cut her cake.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Elsie's New Eye Glasses

20/70 vision is apparently really bad.
I took Elsie to the optometrist because she'd been having obvious depth perception issues; 
walking into walls, etc.
Sometimes she'd complain that her head hurt.
Sometimes her eyes would cross, 

so I made the appointment, 
and less than thirty seconds in was told, 
"Oh, wow, she definitely needs glasses."
I thought it'd be hard to get her to wear them- she's only three!
To encourage her to wear them I made her favorite toy monkey a little pair of glasses out of a purple pipe cleaner.

The morning that we went to pick up her glasses there were several elderly ladies also waiting.
Lillie provided plenty of entertainment for them, showing off her ballet moves from her recent Wizard of Oz performance. 
When the lady brought out Lillie's glasses and she put them on for the first time, there was a collective, audible "Awww!" as her eyes got big and her jaw literally dropped, seeing things clearly for the first time ever. 

I thought it would be hard to make her wear them, but she never wants to take them off. 
At night time I have to physically pull them off her face when it's time for bed!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

If I ever get a tattoo...

If I were going to get a tattoo, this is what I'd get:
That red "C" on my forearm is like the international symbol of motherhood- 
the perfect imprint of a baby's ear where he's slept in his mother's arms for hours.
It's an emblem which spans all cultures and races in our maternal commonality;
Mommies hold babies, 
babies sleep in their mother's arms;
That red "C" is the best expression of the purest form of happiness I know. 
I want to wear it on my arm for so so so many days, 
but I know he'll be running around independently before I barely blink.
Letting me rock him to sleep will be the furthest thing from his mind.
If I ever decide to get a tattoo, that "C" will become permanent.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Elsie's almost four!

Why am I making a big deal about my daughter's fourth birthday?
All year long Elsie goes to birthday parties and always asks, 
"Can it be my birthday soon, please???" 
as if I had some kind of control over what day it is. 
Every time she sees balloons, she asks, "Is it close? Can we have a happy birthday party?" 
Every time we walk past the cake display in the grocery store she oohhhs and ahhhs over the confections and declares her favorite saying, 
"THAT is going to be my birthday cake!" 
(Last year she was going through a dinosaur phase and really loved the dinosaur cake in the cake book, but also really wanted a princess cake. This particular cake was called "Princesses in the Garden" but mine was "princesses in the Garden with Dinosaurs." 

Because she loves throwing "parties" for her My Little Ponies 
(who seem to be aging at break neck speed.)
Because ultimately I know it's kind of a waste of money for just one day, but these little kid birthdays are so few and fleeting. I feel like every time I blink she gets a little bigger and before I know it she'll be all grown up and those 300 year old ponies won't be strewn across my living room floor. These sweet early years are finite and I want to make them the happiest I possibly can for her. Someday it will take more than cake and balloons to make her happy, but today, they are the stuff of her dreams, so, for just a little while, I get to make her dreams come true.

Elsie at her third birthday party- just family and two friends.
 This year we're going a little bigger since we're not having it at the house.