It’s 7:30. Dinner is done; the kitchen cleaned. You’ve put on your ancient college sweats. You’ve just poured a glass of wine/mug of tea when your Little Darling hands you a blank drawing of a turkey with the instructions, “Use at least four different craft media to decorate.”
Sammamish has three high schools, three middle schools, and 10 public elementary schools. About 1/3 of the city’s 45,000 people are under 18. Kids in school do projects: turkeys, dioramas, poster-board presentations, wax-museum dress-up.
And how many craft stores are in Sammamish? Zero. Office supply stores? Zip.
When your Little Darling has a last minute craft project, you better hope you’re prepared or you may find yourself out in the dark, cold, rainy and blustery night on your way to Redmond or Issaquah to find the closest craft store.
Or maybe not.
Use what you have in the pantry. Sure, this may seem obvious, but the brain can get all wonky when you’re tired and all you want to do is catch up on the latest episode of Glee. If you have some school glue, you can use all those dried beans, pastas, and grains as decorations. Quinoa or couscous looks an awful lot like sand for those desert dioramas. Lentils can become cobblestones. Powdered sugar makes a nice snow.
Use your gift wrap. Gift wrap and tissue paper make perfect craft supplies. Cut that tissue paper into small squares, wrap the squares around the ends of a pencil, dip the ends in glue, and smack those twisty curly tissue paper bits onto your background. In grade school, we did this for apples on apple trees and flowers in meadows. Tissue paper can also be turned into tissue paper flowers. Paper and diluted glue (or flour and water) can be formed into papier-mâché bowls. Gift wrap can become dresses for paper doll people or fancy bookmarks. And don’t forget origami art.
Use the Internet. Many craft sites, including Disney’s Family Fun, allow you to search on craft projects based on materials. Scope the house for what you have on hand, type it into the search engine, and you may come up with the perfect project for your child (we’ve used Family Fun for paper bowls, bookmarks, trinket boxes, and boogie monsters).
Send out an SOS. With approximately 26 other kids in your Little Darling’s class, chances are good someone in your neighborhood has what you need and is itching to get rid of it. Seriously. I needed one—ONE—googly eye, but you can’t just buy one googly eye so I bought an ENTIRE BAG of googly eyes and now I have an ENTIRE BAG—minus one—of googly eyes spilling around the floor of my craft cabinet. Want one? Or 10?
Call, send an e-mail, use Facebook (to target those parents with kids older than yours who did the same project last year and still have the extra supplies). The best part of the SOS is the chance that your child can run up to the neighbor’s house to collect the supplies. The second best part of the SOS is the chance that your neighbor will just leave the supplies for you on her porch; you can sneak out without having to change out of your sweats.
Go shopping. If you have exhausted your creativity with your existing supplies and your safety net failed you, then it’s time to get in the car. But before you do, make a list of exactly what you need and figure out the best place to go; no need to hit more than one store if you can help it.
To that end, I did a little research. The grocery stores on the plateau have only the very basics. Some glue, maybe a box of crayons. Lots of tape. Don’t bother going there. If you don’t want to leave the plateau, Bartell’s and Rite Aid are your best bets.
Rite Aid. Rite Aid is open till 10 every night. They have a good selection of poster board, including tri-fold boards. They have poster paints (primary colors plus black and white), big poster brushes, BIG stickers for labeling posters and BIG stickers for decorating posters. Rite Aid also has big fatty poster board markers. Rite Aid also offers a good selection of Crayola products, including water colors, colored pencils, crayons, and markers. They also carry the colored Sharpie marker collection and general office supplies (glue, tape, rulers, pens, pencils). (And, just in case you need it, you can remove Sharpie from wood by rubbing it gently with alcohol… not that I recently spent an afternoon doing this or anything…)
Bartell’s. Bartell’s closes at 10 on weeknights and at 8 on Sundays. They have a better art supplies than Rite Aid, but fewer poster options. Bartell’s has colored construction paper, water color paper, and heavy-weight sketching paper. They do carry poster board and foam board (but not tri-fold poster board). They have a huge selection of Crayola products and Sharpie colored markers. If you are working with a poster display, Rite Aid is your store, but if you have a diorama, you must go to Bartell’s for the toys. The toy section offers plastic animals (dinosaurs, snakes, insects, lizards, frogs, puppies), plastic men (army, knights, pirates), and plastic trees. I also found super balls colored and sized to represent the planets, glow-in-the-dark stars, and Lincoln Logs and TinkerToys. Modeling clay and craft sticks are also available in the Bartell’s toy department. (The Rite Aid toy half-aisle had an extremely limited selection and nothing I saw worthy of a diorama.)
And if all that fails, well, Dear Reader, it’s time to head further afield. And maybe have a talk with your Little Darling about planning ahead…
Val Serdy is a wife, mother, and editor living on the plateau. She has googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and colored cotton balls if you need any.