We hadn’t meant to talk about the ethics of consumerism, but alas, the curiosity of a 5-year-old is rarely capable of stifling.
I told her much of it. That humans are predisposed to greed, to wanting more, to taking from this planet what we can never return – both the soil and the dignity of those who walk it. I told her that a human’s desire for newness is innate; there’s little wrong with it, but that much of this desire can be filled a hundredfold with a walk in the woods to encounter a thousand new things in a single acre: a trio of bluebells, the scamper of a squirrel, this morning’s young nest, the shadow of the sun.
I told her that it’s important to find satisfaction in the things that already exist all around us. That if we can learn to see it, there is far more beauty to be found in the backyard than the toy kiosk at the grocery. I told her she needn’t feel guilty if/when she finds this to be untrue for another thirty years.
And I told her this: when possible, we must know who makes our things. And when possible, that person can be ourselves.
Since then, there has been a sharp rise in the mess beneath the craft table, an accrual of paper scraps, shredded tape, foam sheets glued into oblivion. I have vacuumed four times this week alone, if only to keep masking tape out of the dog’s paws. When her grandmother visits, Bee introduces each new creation. This, a stuffed animal for Scout. Here, a floating hippo for the bath. You can have this one; it’s an airplane named Tipper.
Later, I hear Bee tell Ken over curry: Make what you want and want what you make.
He laughs, knows she’s been talking to her mother.
And so, in the spirit of making what we want, I offer 8 craft supplies we love (all are American-made). And in the spirit of wanting what we make? I’d suggest only the confidence of a 5-year-old.
Did you know Scotch was made in our own neck of the U.S. woods? (Me, neither.) We frequent through rolls of masking tape quicker than any other supply, and glory be, it’s compostable. Magic tape is a crowd-pleaser, too, but without-a-doubt harder on the environment, so I like to reserve it for special occasions (best road trip time occupant ever).
My kids are notepad-averse (give ’em loose leaf or give ’em death), so we’re forever stocking up on Wisconsin-made Neenah Paper. But, if your kids like the tidiness of a pad, I give highest praise to family-owned Eco-Kids’ Art Pad.
While I love beeswax crayons, they’ve never quite worked for us. For one, Bernie can’t stop eatin’ em, and for two, the colors seem less rich than its Crayola counterpart. But, if you’re firmly in the beeswax camp (I salute you!), these are pure, nontoxic and FSC-certified. For everyone else, Crayola is proudly made in Pennsylvania.
My grandfather tipped me off to the cedar pencil years ago as I watched him balance checkbooks and scrawl phone numbers in his bookish, leather-smelling study. I’ve never once been able to love another type, and General Pencil Co. makes my very favorite straight from California cedars.
We love air-dry clay in white for a blank, paintable canvas, and Crayola has a simple go-to option that works well enough. For something a bit more special (and nontoxic/gluten-free), Van Aken Factory in North Charleston makes the best of the best (I love their nod to business transparency practices here).
I’m disinclined to glitter on all accounts, and yet, I suppose there’s room for magic every now and then. These folks create their vegan, cruelty-free glitter with no GMO ingredients and a marine and waste water biodegradable formula. I’ll craft to that (sparingly).
Chalk is chalk, but alas, I’ve got a soft spot for Wee Can Too’s veggie sidewalk chalk. It’s non-toxic, wheat-and-dairy-free and made in the USA with natural, plant-based organic ingredients. Highly recommend.
For the budding painters, Grumbacher‘s an easy choice. With a fold-out lid and snap-out colors, this watercolor set is US-made and designed for longevity — each color is vibrant and perfectly saturated to last years, years and years.
Happy crafting, friends!