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Monday, February 20, 2006

Bad Business

After a short day at work (in late and out early due to road conditions), I was looking forward to a very nice evening at home with Heather Marie. I'd planned for use to have some childlike fun with fingerpaints making a poster similar to the ones the dorm dwellers used to make back in the day (a painted collage of random stuff), but I ran into two problems.

The first (and simpler) problem, was the dismal quality of the posterboard at Wal-Mart. Remember how posterboard is? Stiff, with a smooth side and a rough side? Wrong. Only rough now, on both sides. It was also pretty thin and limp. In fact, it was so flimsy that I really think it would have creased itself if it had simply been held wrong. I'm sure the cheap posterboard is probably several cents less than the good stuff, which is undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings every year. Good for them. And good luck with that, since Hobby Lobby still sells the good stuff, and that's where I'll go to get mine next time.

The second, worse problem was with the fingerpaints. They really don't make them anymore (or at least Wal-Mart doesn't carry them). Oh, sure, Crayola makes some silly paint system that is mess-free because it only works on their special paper (nice product lock-in there, by the way), and Elmer makes some in low-mess squeeze tubes, but they're obviously missing the point.

I'm sure parents hate it, but the mess is the whole point!!! Fingerpaints are all about breaking out of stuffy restrictions about brushes and neatness and lines. Why do they have to be mess-free?! Can't we turn kids loose and let them have at least some unfettered play? Non-toxic and water-soluble fingerpaints are obviously good things, of course, but special paper? Please. Here you go, kids, be creative...but only on the special paper! Get messy, go wild...but only with carefully-squeezed amounts.

I really can't fault Elmer's much, since the paints I got from them were pretty good, I just don't like their buying into the whole anti-mess idea. I'll also admit that the Crayola stuff is really pretty cool, but it's not really fingerpainting, although I could see the appeal when working with large groups of kids.

I really want to see some fingerpaint company that understands the attraction of their product, and honestly advertises them as being "Extra messy, extra fun!" Maybe Hobby Lobby has some of those, too.

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