Friday, 31 August 2018

Our Summer tradition at Brushstrokes

Summer break is over and the kids are back at school, but today I wanted to share one of our Summer traditions. It's a fun indoor activity for any time of year and a great tradition to start.

With the long Summer break here in the US I'm always looking for fun things to do to keep the kids occupied. There are certain activities that are a Summer tradition - going to camp, heading to the beach, spending time at the pool, playing in the park... And then there are the activities that have become our very own Summer traditions. 

One such thing is our annual visit to Brushstrokes Studio here in Berkeley. Every Summer break the kids and I spend an afternoon at Brushstrokes painting a ceramic plate each. It started off as a one off, but when I realized how wonderful it would be for the kids to each have a collection of their own hand painted plates when they're older I decided that we'd make it an annual tradition. We've done it five Summers in a row so far, and even just in that short amount of time it's amazing looking back at how the kids' artistic skills have developed. It's also fun way to keep track of their interests at the time. 

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

This Summer break the girls couldn't wait to head to Brushstrokes and paint their plates. They had been coming up with ideas for quite some time and were eager to set paintbrush to plate. Here's a look at what they created this year.

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

This year Ava stuck with our regular theme of a self portrait. Every year she has painted a portrait of herself on her plate and it's fun seeing how her illustration style (and hair color) has changed over the years. She is somewhat of a perfectionist and likes to take her time to get every line just right. 

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

Lola is really into emojis at the moment (they're even the theme for her upcoming 8th birthday party) and decided that the round plate made the perfect base for an emoji face. She also really wanted to paint a poop emoji (her all time favorite) so ended up doing a double sided plate with a poop emoji on the back and a heart eye emoji on the front.

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

Mathilde painted a self portrait of sorts. You may remember that she has an alter ego called "Whisker, everybody's pet big girl coyote". This year Mathilde painted a portrait of Whisker the coyote. She added a flower behind Whisker and wanted everyone to know that despite how it looks, the coyote is not pooping on the flower! She added a rainbow across the top, her name at the bottom and two pink wiggly worms on the side.

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

Once the girls were done with their plates we left them to be fired in the kiln. A week later they were ready for us to pick up. I love seeing the transformation of the plates once they have been fired. The pastel matte paint becomes vibrant and glossy. Here's what the girls' plates looked like before firing...

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

And here's what they looked like after firing!

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

Such a transformation, right? Luckily Brushstrokes have sample chips on display so we never have to guess what the colors will look like after firing. The chips show the color after both one coat and two coats so the girls always know how much paint to apply to get the desired color.

Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley CA

Let's take a look at the girls' plates from over the years...

Decorated plates from Brushstrokes Studio

You'll see that there are only four plates here for each kid, but I mentioned that we have been painting plates for five Summers so far. Our second Summer, Brushstrokes was out of the plates and as I wanted to keep the plates all the same, we decided to paint espresso cups and saucers (perfect for babyccinos) instead of a different plate style. I then stocked up on the plain plates so we would always have a back up should Brushstrokes be out again. So far they've always had the plates in subsequent years, but it's good to know I have a back up, especially if we happen to move away from the area at some point.

Here's a look at Ava's collection. She has painted a self portrait each year and I love that she included her purple hair the Summer that it was purple. For her cup and saucer she decided to mix things up and painted Cookie Monster devouring cookies on the cup and herself enjoying a hot drink on the saucer.

Ava's Creations from Brushstrokes Studio

Lola also started out painting self portraits but then switched things up a bit the last few years with a flower and emojis. She painted a cute sun and rainbow for her cup and saucer. I love the simplicity of the rainbow striped cup.

Lola's Creations from Brushstrokes Studio

Mathilde was only a few months old the first time we visited Brushstrokes so I decorated a plate with her teeny tiny footprints stamped in the middle. Brushstrokes occasionally holds event for new parents to make these plates which make a fun keepsake. Mathilde's cup and saucer is decorated with splatters, but by the time she was two she was painting self portraits. I love the full body portrait with the crazy hair!

Mathilde's Creations from Brushstrokes Studio

I can't wait to see how the girls' collections develop over the years. I love the idea of them being able to use these plates when they move out of home (a long way) down the track. Or they can keep them as mementos of their childhood instead.

Do you have any fun traditions that you have started with your kids?

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