I received a free creation session to facilitate this post. My opinions are my own.
Last week I visited Kelly Gau Studio in Albert Lea, MN and discovered what true love is. True love is holding a nail and giving your 4-year-old a hammer.
When the North Iowa Bloggers were invited to Kelly Gau Studio to try out an activity for her upcoming summer creative kids sessions, I was super excited to be able to take the boys. I'd never been to the studio (and actually she's now at a new location just a block away from the old one), but had heard my blogger friends talk about it many times, so I knew it would be a fun trip. When we walked in there were beautiful lights and paintings covering the ceiling, walls, and even the floor! The vibe in the space is super fun and relaxed.
While a lot of people know about Kelly and her painting classes, she set up a different activity us that night. We were going to do some nail art. I don't know if that's the technical artist name, but that's what I call it! This activity is one of ten that she'll have set up during her ten-week summer kids program. I wasn't sure how the nail art would go with a 4-year-old, but he was anxious to try, so we rolled with it. Spoiler alert: He loved it and only required minimal help!
We started by picking a paint color and an apron. This is no small task, but the boys settled on black and orange, and found a red and a green apron. I opted for Gator blue paint and skipped the apron, although there were plenty for everyone. Once I realized Monks wasn't going to need as much help as I thought, I realized I could make my own while we were at it!
Step one was to sand the wood blocks to create a smooth surface. The boys did a pretty good job on their own, though I did help Monkey finish his up and just give it a once-over. Bug was able to do his own for the most part.
Step two was to paint! Of course both the boys enjoyed this part, and were able to complete the task on their own while I did my own. When they were finished painting we took their wood blocks over to the hair dryer and then the boys washed their hands at the kid-height friendly sink.
Step 3. After the blocks were dry, we traced hearts onto the wood using a stencil, and then it was time to pound nails. Bug was pretty well off on his own. With a few pointers from Kelly, he was able to space the nails and pound them in like a pro. Then there was Monks. He let me do the first two nails (the top and the bottom of the heart), but he wanted to do the rest. First I started the nails for him and then let him pound away. Sometimes they were crooked and I'd pound them back out. Then, and this is where the true love comes in, he wanted to do it himself. You heard me folks, I held the nails and handed my baby a hammer. Obviously it was completely supervised and he doesn't hit very hard, but anyone who has ever done any home repair or building project knows that a slight miss can lead to a very sore thumb! He actually blew me away with his hand/eye coordination - he didn't miss once! He even did one nail completely on his own! I guess all those chores with dad on the farm are paying off!
Next up, step 4, was to weave the yarn around the nails to create a design. Again, Bug took off on doing his own thing, while Monkey waited (mostly) patiently for the color he wanted. Kelly had various yarn balls available, but Monks had a very specific design in mind and only wanted red. When it was his turn I tied his starter knot (which I actually had to do for Bug as well) and tried to let him do his thing. This actually proved a little difficult as he didn't quite understand the concept. I started him out by wrapping the first several layers around the outside of the heart to give him a base and tried to let him go again. Kelly stepped in to help a couple times when he struggled. The biggest issue he had with this part was keeping the yarn pulled tight. I appreciated having her there to guide when we got stuck.
Our first creations were a success! After posing for a group photo Bug told me he knew that we definitely needed to bring his sister in sometime because this was the kind of place she would love - she's very into art and creating new things. I think she'd love the dreamcatcher session that Kelly was telling us about! To sign up for the kids' sessions you can purchase a punchcard, which guarantees you a spot each week, but for people like me with a crazy summer schedule, you can also do a drop in option (although it is recommended that you call ahead). To check out Kelly Gau studio, the summer kids club, and her other great sessions like "Paint with a Princess" you can visit her website or check out her Facebook page! I know we'll definitely be back with our princess!