Remy's Art to Remy Friends

My son, Remy, who is six, drew the flowers flanking my blog's title, Standing in the Shadows. He is very excited to be "famous" for his art. What does he think he'll be when he grows up? Answer: an artist. A famous artist. More famous than Grandpa. Now, given that his grandfather was Leonard Baskin, he's going to need plenty of skill and plenty of luck.

Sounding like proud mama bear, he's kind of got "it," by which I mean he's so willing to experiment with materials, color, shape; he doesn't need to make every picture pretty or perfect (although he does have a perfectionist streak). And he's loved making art for a very long time.

Recently, though, his six year-old confidence has been fueled. What's happened is that Kathryn Swanson, our friend, upstairs neighbor, babysitter extraordinaire, was so taken with his monster drawings that she wanted to translate one into soft sculpture. She's trying to make it sewing/creating/crafting. In our family lore, there was a first of the creatures that Remy wanted to make and that wasn't an actual Remy friend, so let's say the red guy–soft sculpture #2–inspired Kathryn's fabulous endeavor called Remy Friends.

The idea of the Remy Friends kit is very cool. You get: paper, markers, and an envelope in a cute little bag/backpack. Mail off your child's (or your own) drawing. Kathryn will send you a soft sculpture of your creation, your very own Remy Friend (or whatever-your-name-is Friend if you like). There are some great examples on her blog. At her Etsy shop you'll see pre-made soft sculptures, plus other Katrhyn creations. Not surprisingly, I'm quite fond of the dresses (duck-duck goose dress for sale modelled by Mar Mar and Saskia) she's been making (Saskia has an Olivia dress, that is, well, too cute).

This week, Kathryn took a modified version of the kid-inspired kit to Lindsay Fogg-Willits' Art Always studio in Florence. Kathryn's a guest artist/teacher at a few of this session's weekly classes. The kids made gorgeous creatures (the one here belongs to Claire). Kathryn said she couldn't believe how well they sewed–"I kept asking, 'How old are you?' to the kids and they were just five, six and seven–with speed and facility she imagined only older kids would possess (oh, our brilliant children).

Kathryn's brought sewing, embroidery and knitting to my kids (thank you, Kathtryn), stuff I don't know how to do. Beyond seeing what many craftier people know–that these are great activities for kids–I'm just in awe. And in the more locally based, anti-China import, greener, sweeter world, Remy Friends are happy reminders that we are not giving up; we are getting.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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