Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Passing on the Varnish Brush

photos by Cassandra Mohr
Most fathers hope to one day pass on wisdom and skills to their children.
And while I won't claim to have much of either, I do know a thing or two about varnishing.
I also have an eleven-year-old daughter who is quite a little artist,
and has been amazing the family with her talents. 
She especially likes painting, and anything that involves a brush. 
When I announced today that I'd be doing some varnishing,
Isabella made it very clear to me that she'd like to help.

This was nothing new. Bella has pestered me for years about "helping me" with various paint and varnish tasks. I've let her paint a few times,
but today she was working with varnish.
I gave her a quick tutorial on what to do and how to do it.
We started with the smaller pieces first, and she picked it right up.

A few pointers here and there were given, but it became obvious to me that she was a lot more comfortable with a brush in her hand than most kids her age.

The more she brushed, the better she got. We talked about the mix of varnish and thinner. I explained how the whole process works, and about how the two products work together to leave a nice, shiny, and protective surface on the wood.
Different brushing techniques were described and demonstrated. 
I explained how the brush needs to be dunked and purged now and then, and how the varnish in the bucket needs to be given more thinner to keep it brushable.

I got a kick out of watching my daughter brushing on that beautiful golden coating, and visions of the future came floating in to my mind.
I saw my little artist slowly taking over some of my paint and varnish projects, and as the need arose, she would step in as my "chief painter."

I beamed with pride.

Right about then, my precious girl informed me that she was getting bored with the whole varnishing thing.


Ah, but of course "she's an artist", I thought.
I quickly explained that what we were varnishing was a thing of beauty.
My daughter said:
"Yeah, but it's not like we're going to frame it and hang it on a wall."

"Better than that", I said, "hundreds of people will see it and admire it. 
It will be a part of some of the greatest memories, and folks will step into the boat and talk about how beautiful it is".

She kept dipping and brushing the varnish onto the wood, thinking about what I'd said.
We graduated to longer pieces, which required more thought and technique.  Bella did her best to listen to my coaching - even though she was sure that she knew more about varnishing than I did.

As is common around my house, the phone rang with a call that I had to take, so I asked her if she thought she could finish the job without me.
She said "yeah, I can do it."

I smiled with amusement as I walked into the house.
Twenty minutes later I was off the phone and looking over the work. 

It was all perfect.
She did a great job.
Now if I can just convince her that what she was doing today was worth doing, I'll have my "chief painter" one day.


Sean Jamieson said...

Ah good. I could use her down here in San Diego.

I really love the double meaning here, intended or not. I'll "Pass" on the varnish.

staff said...

I understood Bella is an artist since 2007 in Rome when, during a lunch, she drew in colored pencil a place mat of paper. Great job!! btw: I still have that drawing.