Handmade Conversations — Dad Crafts with Mike Adamick

Posted by on May 07, 2013

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Dad crafts, projects that dads can make with their kids, aren't really all that different from crafts that moms and other guardians might offer young ones. For example, dad crafts are just as interesting and loved by the kids who make them, yet perhaps the only exception between dad crafts and other crafts is the emphasis on resourcefulness rather than polish. Mike Adamick, dad blogger of Cry It Out and author of the just-released "Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects,"  shares a few insights in how dads can tackle crafting with their kids, including how to avoid commandeering the craft from the little ones as well as favorite dad crafts he and his daughter like to make.

dad projects
How does a book about dad crafts differ from traditional craft books for kids?

If I can make a small distinction, I'd say these aren't "dad crafts" but crafts that just happen to be from a dad. Now, of course, they have my personal stay-at-home dad spin on them, and my personal spin would be this: crafts are freaking awesome. And they're for everyone. Every craft. We should absolutely not put limits on the sort of crafts kids (or dads!) are interested in, so I urge parents and kids to try absolutely everything, from baking to sewing to woodworking to whittling. There are a wide variety of crafts, so whether you want to get started in crafting or just find something new to work on, these projects for are every parent, every child, every occasion.

Is crafting with dad different than crafting with mom? If yes, then how so?

The projects I write about are for everyone, although to be perfectly honest, I do see some differences in how my wife and I craft. We're both avid sewers, but I like to let my daughter wield the tools more, work the machine. When we're putting together something that requires a saw or a drill, I let her take the lead as much as possible, whereas my wife shies away from that a bit. But otherwise, I don't think there's much of a difference when it comes to crafting, although I do curse more while she's a yeller.
dad crafts
All of these dad crafts use materials from around the house, instead of expensive or difficult-to-find materials. Why is this important when crafting with kids?

I'd absolutely love if all these crafts were entirely repurposed, but there are a few things people might have to buy. Still, as much as possible, I urge parents to think outside the box when it comes to coming up with crafting materials, instead of going out and buying that expensive doohickey or whatever. I just can't stand the notion that all of life's fun should start at the store. It seems like a bad message to send kids: "Want something fun? Start at the store." Please. So look around for a moment and see what materials you might already have on hand. You save some money, sure, but you also turn something that otherwise would just be junk into something fun and useful for the family.

What are some common mistakes a parent might make when just beginning to craft or woodwork with their kids? Any tips for overcoming?

The biggest mistake I make, day after day, is starting a project with my daughter and trying to wield too much influence on the outcome. Who CARES if your bird house is sideways or your ice cream isn't just right? These are projects for parents and kids — not just parents, with kids on the sidelines. I also see a lot of intervention when the going gets tough — parents who swoop in with a well-placed swab of glue or who help something fit just right. Phew! You really saved that macaroni portrait! I'm urging parents to let go a little bit, to let kids get their hands dirty or call the shots.

What are your daughter's favorite dad crafts? And what about you? Which crafts do you like to make the most with her?

Emme loves to make anything out of anything — I don't mean that in the "Oh, she just likes everything!" sense of the phrase. She really likes to come up with projects from ... anything. Junk. Trash. Found string. Old cartons. Used tires. You name it. She cobbles together some of the best projects from things that catch her eye, and I just stand back and enjoy watching the process. Plus, it gives me time to read, so there's that. As for me, I love to sew clothes and costumes for her. I love trying to find new ways to turn my clothes into cute outfits — T-shirts or button downs into dresses is my favorite. I also love a good woodworking project. Just yesterday, I made a stand for a taxidermy bat and then we made a kitchen sink volcano. Crafts, and life, should always be that awesome.
cover of "Dad
Mike Adamick is the author of "Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects," published by F+W Media, Inc. Images by Mike Adamick and 123RF.com.

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