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...And didn't Die
I went to a Crafting Workshop and didn't Die
November, 2018 - Issue #170

Let's get this out of the way right now.

I realize that most women, and a fair number of men, would never consider attending a "make-something" workshop an outside-the-box activity worthy of a "... And didn't Die" column.

Those people are not me.

So, backstory. I'm an introvert. Small talk is my kryptonite. I'm a minimalist. I once told a friend, after she showed me her treasured finds, that "decor was for the weak." What does that even mean? I still don't know, but it felt right saying it.

Thus, the idea of being chit chatty while making something that serves no real purpose beyond being pretty... sounded like something 95 percent of the people in my circle would love to do. But as for me, yeah - mostly I'd rather die.

Thankfully, mom/daughter owners of AR Workshop Santa Clarita, Rhonda and Brianna, knew that I wasn't going to be a
quick convert. "Bring a friend!" they encouraged. Who did I know who'd be able to navigate the complexities of mostly-estrogen-fueled conversation with aplomb while also serving as a makery muse? My crafty 9 year old daughter Olive, of course.

We arrived to the impressively-sized, gorgeously appointed workshop on Seco on a Sunday afternoon. The day's formal workshop time had concluded and we had the space mostly to ourselves. Olive checked out the tools - drills, saws and hardware - while I scanned the hundreds of already-finished projects waiting for inspo to strike. At AR Workshop, you can choose from a massive selection of customizable designs for wood display signs, serving trays, purses, photo frames, ornaments and more - or, for a small upcharge, they'll help you create something completely new. I thought I'd be rebellious and go for Option 2 until I saw it - a stencil that said, "Olive You." It was the perfect fit for our mom/daughter date.

We settled on sizes, finishes, paint colors and stencil customization - I wanted "Mommy & Olive" on there somewhere so that when she hangs this in her dorm room in a decade she can remember when she liked me - and then set to work.

Brianna showed us how to sand the wood and apply paint for our base coat and then we set to work under her watchful, helpful eye as the stencil was prepared. While it dried, we began the relaxing practice of "plucking" bits of the stencil out with a tool that reminded me it was time for a dental cleaning. "This doesn't suck," I recall thinking. Olive, by this time, had already asked to have her birthday at AR Workshop, so she was good.

In quick order, Brianna showed us how to adhere our stencil and we were talking colors and applying paint. "I think it's actually going to look good, Mommy," said Olive, surprised that by now I hadn't just said, "We can just get one off Etsy!" and headed to the nearby Starbucks.

And that's when it really hit me. It actually was going to look good. This wasn't some "everyone's doing the same design" painting that I slopped together while I drank wine and gossiped. No shade to those experiences, but I never thought I'd be passing my Harvest Pumpkin painting down to the next generation. But this? Now I actually did think she'd take it with her to college, and not just ironically.

And there's the rub. I don't like "decor" - but I'm a sucker for sentimentality. All my favorite display pieces have a story but, up until this moment, they were other people's stories. This was my first and I was... proud. That's when I knew that I'd be back to AR Workshop - a lot. Because I had more stories to tell, more gifts to give, more memories to make.

When we pulled our stencil off for the "big reveal," Olive audibly gasped. It was probably my favorite moment of 2018, because I felt like a kid right then, too. It was exciting to see that we had created something that looked just as perfect as a product in a store - except this one was ours, made by hand. I was so smitten, I mentally noted to put it on the "grab in case of a fire" list - the Oscars of the Edwards household. I made something I didn't think I could make in a place I didn't think I'd socially fit in - and didn't die.
AR Workshop Santa Clarita 288-1903

Publisher's Note: I just turned 40! In honor of my big birthday, I've committed to trying things "outside my box" with only one caveat: It has to have little likelihood of killing me physically. (I do have three kids.). But for someone famous for shutting down to-do suggestions with, "I'd rather die!" these 12 activities are plenty of stretch for a gal who's spent four decades trying to get out of leaving the house.
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