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We’ve always got plenty of things to do around our house, from scrubbing the fireplace stones that have been gathering soot since 1949 or thereabouts, to pulling weeds in various flower beds around our yard plus a quarter acre or more of hillside that the thistle and blackberries are fond of. The mudroom walls really need repainting, it’s been 10 years since we said we were going to grout an exposed tile edge in the living room, and it’s high time for a purging session in both the boys’ rooms.
So, obviously, last weekend I decided that I really, really had to paint an old wooden wishing well that’s been fading in our yard for several years.
My 6-year-old Arlo heard the word paint and signed on immediately. This means that he played outside while I, the mom, set up the work space (tarps, a ladder, and a table), gathered the materials, washed the dirt and spider webs off the well, and sanded the flaking paint and splintery wood to a semi-smooth condition. The DH removed the bucket from the inside to reduce the temptation to swing it at wet, newly painted sides, and then the redheaded tyke was ready to help.

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I brought out a dozen or so cans of leftover paint from various projects over the years, and Arlo and I picked dark blue and yellow as the colors. My husband respectfully suggested that this was too reminiscent of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese packaging, so we added a muted green and a hot coral to the mix.

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The painting was surprisingly fun and mess-free! First, we painted the roof, which was very satisfying since it had completely faded. Then Arlo and I decided that the top and bottom borders of the body should also be blue, so we painted those next. I added the yellow paint to the triangle sides of the roof while Arlo looked on and shot at aliens lurking in the forest. Then I added the green to the support rails, and Arlo decided he was ready to help paint the sides with the coral. I followed closely behind him, smoothing out his paint strokes and wiping away his drips onto our freshly painted blue border. Throughout the project, he frequently proclaimed, “I love painting, and I’m good at it! And it’s hard work.”
I added a second coat to all surfaces the next day, and got a little crazy when I decided to paint the bar that the bucket hangs off of, as well as contrasting colors on the handle. My husband made me stop when I considered painting the bucket, each slat a different color.

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And happily, we’re all quite thrilled with the outcome. I’ve decided it looks very Lego-esque, which is appropriate in our yard since our basement has 3 cabinets full of Lego bricks and the monthly arrival of the latest Lego catalog becomes an hour-long page-by-page discussion over dinner.
In retrospect, I would have painted more of the inside of the well, probably first, and would have saved the dark blue trim until the very end. But since this particular art piece will be sitting in our yard and gazed upon from afar, the messy edges and meeting points between colors won’t be scrutinized very closely. Plus, I can always say my 6-year-old painted it, and it was hard to do!

shawnconna

Sometimes helpful editor and digital media director at MAKE and CRAFT.


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