Thursday, March 8, 2012

Prepping the Dragons (Babble)

We’re having our first meeting of Mona’s book club this weekend.  I hope it goes well.
We read the three book collection of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.  It was a book dear to my Great Aunt Dorothy’s heart and she passed it down to my mom and uncles and last summer one of my uncles passed it down to me and my children.  It’s a charming trilogy and my kids loved it.

From a hosting book club point of view, choosing snacks was easy because in the story they eat a lot of tangerines, pink lollipops, and Fig Newtons.  Much easier to pick up at the store than prairie food for pioneers.

The sticking point was coming up with a craft.  The problem is that Mona is too crafty.  She had elaborate ideas for her friends to construct their own dragons, and I had to explain that most people aren’t like her.  I told her that she can see things in her mind and make them real, but that many adults I know can’t even do that.  We didn’t want to make anyone feel inadequate or come up with something that would take days to do.  We had to keep it simple.  I suggested we give everyone a copy of the map of Wild Island from the book and let kids draw what they think might be on the blank end of the island where nothing was filled in.  Mona liked that, but still wanted a more elaborate craft to go with it.

So I started giving it some thought, which is dangerous.  Because Mona’s instinct to make elaborate projects comes straight out of my DNA. I love to build things.  So I’m over the top, too, but at least I know to put the burden of the work onto myself and not expect other people to follow my lead.

I decided what might be cute are little flapping dragon mobiles, like those hanging birds with the counterweight underneath that you pull to make the wings move.  I puzzled out a prototype with my husband and then started the assembly line.  I figured if I made a basic dragon the kids could paint them and tie on the strings and the weight themselves.

Want to see?

Here’s a not so great shot of the prototype:
And here are most of the parts:
The basic pieces of the dragon are cut out of pine, then a piece of felt for the hinge, string, perler beads to knot the string with, hot glue, and a rubber ball cut in half and with a hole drilled in it for the counterweight.  The whole thing will be strung onto a popsicle stick.
My design was probably not the most conventional, but it seems to work.  When I looked up similar things online most people used fishing line or wire for the hinge, but tying up the fishing line got annoying and the wings didn’t flap as well.  I sawed a notch in each wing and glued the felt in there, then glued the felt to the back of the body.
I figure the kids can paint their dragons however they want (I even have a bag of jewels they can glue on if they feel like it), and at the end of book club when everything is dry I can show them how to string their dragons up.  I’m really looking forward to it.
Not that I really had time for any of this.  Today was supposed to be a work at home on violins day, but what’s the fun of having a band saw and a drill press if I can’t use them for something non-work related once in a while?

Besides, I’ve been making real progress lately.  I’ve had to stay up past midnight every night for weeks to get anywhere on my violins so I earned a little dragon prep time.  Proof!  Here’s my finished top plate with the bass bar installed, and this is what a violin with a gabillion lining clamps on it looks like while glue is drying:

Anyway, I think I’m ready for book club.  I just have to make sure the other parents understand that I don’t believe for a second that anyone else has to do a project like this when they host.  Because that’s crazy.  But prepping all those little flapping dragons was fun for me and I loved having an excuse to do it.  I can’t wait to see how the kids decorate them!

I don’t know yet if this little book club will take hold, but I hope so, because we’re already looking forward to the next book.

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