Sunday, November 15, 2015

6 Things NOT to Do For a Saint Peg Doll Swap!

Guess what I, a creative-but-not-crafty one, signed myself up for recently? 

A saint peg doll swap!

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A Peg Doll Swap? 

You know, one of those fun swaps where you paint a certain number of wooden pegs and other folks do, too.  Then, you all swap what you painted, so each of you goes home with a beautiful, hand-painted set of dolls.  Simple, fun, and special... right?

Well, sort of...  

For me, the day of the swap was, indeed, simple, fun, and special.  Seven of the nine ladies involved in our swap were able to meet for tea, snacks, fellowship, and saint-doll swapping while our children enjoyed playing together.

The part that was not so "simple, fun, and special" was the actual painting and sealing of the wooden peg dolls. 
For me, that experience was fraught with "oops"es and "oh no"s (but, thankfully, lots of encouragement from my children and a bit of laughter, too.  For, yes, I can - and did- laugh at myself and my mistakes.)

Now, in case you are thinking of jumping into a peg doll swap yourself,  let me offer my examples of my errors to, hopefully, pave the way to your ease.  Avoid these potential pitfalls so you'll meet with success sooner than your actual swap day!

Pitfall One: Painting when the Kids Are Around (without extra pegs to share)


Oh, did my kids ever want in on painting these guys!  However, the swap I was in had guidelines that stated kids could not participate in the painting. 

Now, that would have been all well-and-good for me if my children actually slept like other children do, leaving me to paint in peace during personal wind-down times.  My kids, however, were not blessed with typical sleep cycles, which meant Mama always had to paint with the children about.  That, in turn, meant repeating all variations of "I'm sorry.  Not this time..." to my kiddoes, who, of course, took a keen interest in what I was doing and wanted to join in. 

Next time, to keep everyone happily engaged, I will buy plenty of extra pegs so my children can paint alongside me.

Pitfall Two:  Thinking the Painting Can Be Done in a Sitting or Two

Sure, some of the fabulously talented Moms in my group were able to bang out beautiful pegs in just one painting session or two.  Not me!  Between having to multiple layers of paint for coverage with some of the colors I chose (like the one for St. Joseph Yuen's head!), waiting for certain parts of each peg to dry so I could paint on details, and making myriad touch ups over mess ups, painting pegs ended up being a project that took me more crafting sessions than I care to admit.

During my next swap (because I am crazy enough to do this again despite my lack of craftiness), I plan to dedicate an out-of-the-way shelf in my home to keep pegs-in-process on.  That way, I can paint just one portion or details of the pegs a day. 
For, honestly, I think that dedicating five-to-ten minute painting spurts will likely offer me fuller focus, a steadier hand, and less collective time spent on damage control than doing it the way I did it this time did.

Pitfall Three:  Painting on Newspaper

Mom (or the kids) want to do a messy craft.  What goes on the table?  Newspaper, right?

Wrong, if you're painting saint dolls.  I quickly discovered that plastic bags work so much better.  Trust me on this.  If you are not are a developing crafter like me, damp paint will make it to the bottom of our pegs, causing the newspaper to stick when you pick the pegs up to paint again, and a gentle peel of a peg off plastic is so much easier than the tediousness of removing stuck paper bits.  So,yes, work on plastic. 

And have an egg carton nearby.  They are perfect for upending pegs in when letting the pegs' bottoms dry, so you do not even have to peel pegs off plastic.  
Pitfall Four:  Toting "All Touched Up" Pegs Without Wrapping or Sealing Them


After touch up after touch up on my peg dolls, I finally got to them to a point where I smiled in victory.  Almost done, I thought.  But before I seal them, I will bring them to show a friend whose completed hers so she can give me some final tips.

Wrong move!

For seeking advice from those who've gone before is wise, but neglecting to wrap painted peg dolls individually to travel is not.

Imagine my chagrin when I proudly pulled my painted peg dolls out of a bag at my friend's house only to notice dings in almost every one of them!  Many of my St. Joseph Yuens had freckles; my St. Martin de Porreses' black cloaks had new red and gold flecks in them and white undergarments on both saints were no longer just white.  In fact, every single doll beckoned for a new touch up due to my gaffe.

I could not believe it!  There I was thinking I was but a small suggested detail and some
Modge Podge layers away from being done, but, in actuality, I was many newly-needed touch ups away. 

Praise God that my friend lent me paint to begin touch ups as our children played and that I had left ample days for more work before the swap day was upon me.

Next time, I will most certainly wrap each doll in tissue or put it in a baggie when transporting them. 
In fact, since the day of this mishap, each peg doll I have transported - sealed or unsealed - has had its own tissue wrapping or baggie.

Pitfall Four:  Not Letting Modge Podge Dry Enough

Imagine, too, my friend's surprise when she pulled her "finished" peg dolls out to show me what the dolls look like when sealed with Modge Podge only to discover that her saints came out in clumps.  It appeared that, even though she had let her saint dolls dry for what seemed like plenty of time, the Modge Podge had still been just tacky enough for the dolls to seal themselves together.

My friend was quite good-natured about her clumped-together saints.  As she carefully pried them apart, she commented that they must love each other deeply since they wanted to hug so much.

I am all for saint-love, but not for even more touch ups necessitated by stuck-together saints, so I let my
Mod Podge layers dry good and long between layers and, especially, before wrapping my saints to bring to the swap.

Pitfall Six:  Being Unaware of Modge Podge's Attractive Quality

Before this project, I had never cracked open a canister of
Modge Podge in my life.  When I did, I was happy to see that the glue-like stuff was quick and easy to apply.  I was less enthused to realize that as the white goopy mummy-like texture it began as on the saints seemed to attract every little particle from the air as it dried into a clear hardcoat.  Seriously, I have no idea where the little bits of stuff that dried into the finished peg doll coats I painted came from.  Yet, there it was.

So, from now on, I will embrace imperfection and "texture".  Super smooth finishes just don't happen at my house.

It Was All Worth It

Thankfully, great finishes do happen elsewhere.  At least figurative ones do. 

As I said before, the actual day I swapped saints with others went wonderfully.  Moms and kids enjoyed time together and now our family is the proud owners of 14 fabulous hand-painted peg dolls (with four more coming from moms who couldn't make it to our get together.)  

Indeed, all pitfalls aside, the experience culminated in precious time and talent shared.  our new saint peg dolls collection is beautiful!  

Should you choose to paint peg dolls on your own or with a swap, may you learn from my experience and enjoy the end result just as much!


Miller Jennifer Gregory said...

Great tips from your experience. We have also noted in our atrium that ModPodge can become tacky again with high humidity levels, so we are moving away from that medium as an overcoat.

Martianne said...

Yes, I have been noticing that, too, and have begun experimenting with different finishes. What are you using these days?


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