Arts & Crafts on Fort Huachuca

As living in a COVID world becomes more and more like the new normal, we are slowly trying to branch out and try new things around Fort Huachuca and the surrounding area, of course, all while implementing our mitigation strategies. Last week as I was posting the weekly announcements for my unit, I saw an advertisement on the Fort Huachuca Facebook page about an event at the Fort Huachuca Arts & Crafts Center called Pick-It-and-Paint Ceramics. It sounded like a fun, cheap activity for the girls and I, so as we headed back home from our Saturday errands, we decided to stop in to see what all the excitement was about.

At age five, Gabriella is already a better painter than her Dad will ever be

The girls are happy any time they get to paint, but the responsibility of cleaning up always seems to fall on me (go figure). It seemed like a nice change to not have to clean up after a painting session. I was not thinking that at the time, as I usually do not like to leave any messes, but in hindsight, it was another great reason to partake in this activity.

Birthday parties, eh?

First, we were not prepared for the sheer number of ceramics that were available to paint. I will freely admit that even I was a little overwhelmed. They have about six bookshelves full of ceramics of all shapes, sizes, and prices. So yeah, they have a pretty good selection. Since it was our first time, I relegated the girls to the $10 or less section.

Three guesses on which one is for Dad, who is, and I quote, an “Old Man Dad that likes coffee.”

After thoroughly washing our hands, we got to pick out our ceramics to paint. At eye level on the first shelf was a mermaid, so you know that is what Gabriella chose. Elaina took her time before settling on a gift-wrapped jewelry box. I ended up choosing a coffee mug, as the picture of the hands and feet on the flyer definitely tugged at the heart strings.

And surprisingly, they were still intact when we left as well

After choosing our projects, we got to pick out what color paints we planned to use; the prices are different for unpainted or painted, but once you pay for the latter, there is no limit to how much paint you can use. We got our areas ready and the clerk brought the paints and water bowls to our table. I filled the girls’ palettes and they wasted no time getting started on their masterpieces.

Palettes? This is way too fancy for the Calkins family of painters!

The clerk told us at the beginning that we had to paint an area three times before that would be the color after it came out of the kiln. This meant that any mistake could be easily remedied, which was great for the girls, even though it took them a while to understand this.

Elaina making a present… yep, terrible Dad joke

What surprised me the most is that the girls really took their time. They were in absolutely no rush and they took full advantage of it. There was only a few meltdowns in the beginning, before I was able to show them how easily they could fix mistakes on their own. This was partially my rationale for choosing something easy, as I spent a lot of my time teaching them how fix mistakes and paint the more difficult details on their sculptures.

John Singleton Copley, eat your heart out!

They were having so much fun that two hours flew by pretty quickly. Elaina even finished early and had time to paint a gingerbread house Christmas ornament (we will all be back to do that again, I assure you). And they had a great time helping me, as I had to paint one of their hands to place on my coffee mug.

Gabriella’s mermaid came out much better that she expected = Crisis averted

After washing up, paying, and attempting to clean up, we were told to come back in a week and pick up our masterpieces. I grabbed them early in the day and presented them to the girls after picking them up from after-school care. They could not have been happier with the results.

Elaina was just shocked (in a good way) to find out this was a jewelry box

We were already planning to go back in a week and seeing the finished products only further cemented this desire. The girls had a great time and got something beautiful and tangible out of it. Talk about a win-win.

There is literally only one way this mug could be any more awesome…

And because it came out so great, my coffee mug never actually made it home, as I started using it that day at work. If you have not figured this out yet, I am that very proud Dad who loves to talk about his kids, so no one in the office even blinked an eye at my “non-standard” coffee mug. This was a great experience and all three of us are excited to go back and do it again… because that Tyrannosaurus ceramic is calling my name.


Thanks for checking in on us.


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