Flour, baking powder, salt, and water may sound like necessary ingredients for homemade bread but at the Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center summer camp it’s a recipe for puffy paint. After adding drops of food coloring, eager young artists achieve a vibrant, batter-like substance that undergoes a surprising change when exposed to heat. Nine-year-old Livia Lipparini explained “We mixed it and put it into a bag. You can cut a little hole in that bag and squeeze it out on to your paper. Then you put it in the microwave and it puffs up. The baking powder makes things puffy.” Just like in a cake, a chemical reaction takes place that provides an almost magical leavening action.
A catalyst for creativity, the Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center has offered these kinds of exciting experiences for more than 50 years. Countless children and adults have gained skills in drawing, painting, pottery, stained glass, and much more. The center is managed by the City of Tallahassee’s Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Affairs Department and one of the main goals is to make programming accessible to as many local residents as possible.
During the summer, dozens of our community’s youngest artists have access to 10 weeks of exploration and experimentation. The popularity of the camps is undeniable and a lottery system was implemented years ago to ensure a fair enrollment process. That’s good news for Livia who shared “it’s fun to be here. I feel better when I’m making art because when you’re being creative you’re letting all of the ideas flow out of you.”
Sapphire Cooper knows the feeling. A recent high school graduate, she plans to attend Tallahassee Community College in the fall but not before she spends one more summer at Lafayette. Cooper has participated in the summer program for 10 years, first as a camper and later as a counselor. In that time, she’s learned a lot and is ready to take on adulthood. “Seeing different kids, experiencing different people, it prepares you for the realworld,” she said. Cooper takes her role as camp counselor seriously and understands that she serves as a model for the children she comes into contact with. “Some of these kids come from difficult backgrounds and seeing someone positive in their life and knowing they could be that person is everything to me. Hopefully, it helps to set them on the right track, to do better themselves and move on to affect others. It’s a domino effect.”
Kelly Lorraine Hendrickson is seeking an MFA in studio art at Florida State University. As oneof Lafayette’s camp instructors, she provides children with training in advanced art-making techniques, like linoleum block printing. Though some may shy away from presenting pre-teens with the sharp cutting tools necessary for carving the printing block, Hendrickson chooses to teach campers how to safely use them for the creation of high-quality artworks.
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