My brother once took our three oldest kids to paint pottery in downtown Boston years ago, and they had a blast -- but it took me weeks to face traffic and pick up the finished pieces. Working with plaster is much easier and faster, not to mention a lot less expensive. Which makes it a perfect family splurge during these leaner times.
I wrote about a recent visit to Plaster Fun Time in a "Bring the Family" column for The Boston Globe last weekend:
January 10, 2009
Bring the Family
Good, Clean, Artistic Fun
WHO: Globe Magazine staff member Lylah M. Alphonse and four of her five
kids, ages 4 to 15
WHAT: Painting plaster figures on a rainy day
WHERE: Plaster Fun Time, 113 Drum Hill Road, Chelmsford; 978-452-2700; for other locations, go to http://www.plasterfuntime.com/.
On a recent stormy afternoon, I left our 2-year-old at home with my husband and packed our other four kids into the car for a little artistic fun. Artistic fun that I didn't have to clean up myself which, as any parent knows, is the best kind.
Plaster Fun Time specializes in exactly this type of fun. "We pray for rain every day," president and cofounder Joe Selvaggi says. "It's good for our business." Walk-ins are welcome in all eight Boston-area locations, which are open seven days a week.
The cool thing about Plaster Fun Time is . . . well, there are several. The price is based on the size of the plaster figure your child chooses, and the smocks, work space, brushes, and unlimited paint are included. Unlike ceramics or clay, plaster is easy to work with - there's nothing to shape, the paint dries quickly, and the sprayed-on glossy finish means you can take your projects home right away instead of waiting for them to come out of the kiln. If you don't have time to paint things perfectly, you can bring your piece back and work on it later at no charge. Bonus: The staff snap a digital picture of each creation, so if your kids want to share their artwork with friends and family, you can direct them to the company's website, where they can find a photo online (just search by date and store location).
What my kids love: There are plenty of colors and no one "right" way to paint anything - witness my 10-year-old's entirely black Spiderman mask or my 4-year-old's mottled all-colors-mixed-together frog with silver sparkles - and there are hundreds of different plaster figures from which to choose. (According to Selvaggi, the most popular choices are a cupcake and an appealing little puppy, though older kids enjoy painting designs on large plaster letters to hang on their walls.)
What I love: It's inexpensive (prices start at $8.99), fun for everyone from my preschooler to my high-schooler, and I can sit there and listen while the kids, absorbed in painting, open up and talk about what's on their minds. Fun for everyone. [More]