PAPIER MACHE

THIRTY DAYS OF THANKS AND GIVING

DAY 1: PAPIER MACHE

Yesterday I subbed in Art Class. My sweet friend, the Art teacher, trusted me to lead her sweet students through the much anticipated introduction to papier mache. Blow up a balloon, tape some aluminum foil ears and eyebrows to it, and cover it with “plastercraft” modeling material. Voila! You now have an astounding piece of 3-D artwork.

Voila… NOT! 

Student number one, who happens to also be my son, couldn’t tie his balloon. I had to announce to the class that they must master tying a balloon. Nobody else is going to twist their spit covered balloon into a knot. I tied my son’s balloon and moved on to the discussion about the “plaster strips”.

When we were in school, we tore mountains of newspaper into strips, dipped them into what we called “goop”, and wrapped them so thickly around the balloon that we feared the awesome artwork would not dry before we graduated.

Today, I gave students long strips of mesh material covered in plaster powder. Please God, bring back the goop. The plaster powder goes on quite a journey from box to balloon and it leaves its mark. It was on the desks, the floors, the scissors, the faucet handles, my shoes… Both wet and dry versions adhered to student one (my son’s) clothing. I don’t want to be the teacher that sends a note home saying “never put these clothes in your washer”, but I’m throwing student one (son’s) clothes away… just sayin’. I’m also throwing my dear friend, the Art teacher, all the way under the bus for today’s assignment. She’s fine with that. Of course she is. She dodged what I’m sure was presented as plaster paradise and left me in a three dimensional hell.

You know what I’ve heard this school year? Sad sounds. Muffled voices speaking beneath masks. Social distance shuffling in the hallways. Teachers literally sobbing because they aren’t able to give what used to be their best. Far too often, the response to roll call is, “She’s in quarantine” or “he switched to virtual.”

Today, as students muddled through the messy powdered plaster, I heard:

“This mask I’m making is going to be epic!”

“I’m keeping my balloon small and making a spider.”

“Look at my pumpkin’s unibrow!”

“What do you think, is it goooorgeous?”

Yes, it’s gorgeous. This messy invasive powder. This icky sticky goo. The laundry challenging clumps. The crooked eyebrows on your mask. Your excitement and chatter. Gorgeous. 

I’m thankful for this papier mache project because it reminds me that my gorgeous started out really, really messy. I have sadly shuffled, mumbled, and sobbed in my journey to redemption. Trying to build this thing called life out of crude materials has been challenging, and it’s been epic. I’m so thankful for my journey. I’m so thankful for my Savior. I’m so thankful for his gorgeous redemption.

What’s messy in your life? What are you building out of that mess? I give you this challenge… Keep going. Cut the strips of plaster, dip them in the water, let the Savior work through your hands. Your shuffle will become a skip. Your mumbling will become clear chatter. Your sobbing will become tears of victory. Your redemption will be gorgeous.

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

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