I've been working hard to try and include my kids when I work down in the shop. I get all of the dangerous stuff out of the way and sometimes they'll look over my shoulder or maybe I'll have them help me mix plaster or mache. I have also set them up with finger paints or set up an easel and let them play with the watercolor paints.
I would like to know from all of you veteran Dad's out there, what kinds of things do you or did you have your kids do with you in the shop?
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My son is 11 and I include him in alot of things. He started out with sculpting (playing) with clay, helped with mache on the skull caps, things like that. Now I have him ruff forms and he helping to cape as well. Had a bear come in Sun and then another cust came in, by the time I got back to the bear he had it almost skinned out with no holes. With him playing with the clay I would give him a repo bird head and tell him to scuplt it. Then I gave him his own mounting stand, give him an old form and eyes, give him reference photos and have him go at it. Now he is scuplting all my ear butts for me and doing a great job. Last year he took Masters of his division at our state show with a whitetail. I find it is a good time to bond with him and give him something to do instead of running around town. Keep them busy and interested in something and it keeps them out of trouble.
My kids have always been around my shop except for when they were in elementary school. Since Junior High we have homeschooled them in my shop and they are 14 and 17 years old.
I think what you guys are doing is good, too. Anytime we can spend time with our kids is gotta be good. I chose to single out my job as AWAY from the kids, like any other job. I didnt want the kids mixing mache or plaster, or sanding foam, as I personally feel those are the hazards of our industry. (Guys, please dont take offense to this, just an opinion) But I do enjoy the occasional visit from them, and when we are in a "clean stage" in the shop, they like to just hang out for a bit and ask questions. I cant say that during certain procedures Im doing, they havent had their own form they used to screw drywalls screws into, or draw things on with a marker, and pound nails. In fact to this day, most of the scrap wood I grab from the scrap box is the reminants of one of the kids planes, aircraft carrier, barn, etc. They do enjoy skinning, and Im anxious to turn them loose on stuff soon, like you guys have. One thing I HAVE learned though, and hopefully before its too late. I do stop at some point in the shop and get out and do things with them. I didnt always do that before. I can always run back out after they hit the sack.
What I do is give them a pair of gloves a popsicle stick and a old pair of craft deer antlers and I let them act like they are removing unneeded things from the skull plate. My boy thinks he is doing something and my daughter usually will get a tool for me if I need something. They mostly watch. I won't let them in the same room with me when I paint or prep forms. My boy will even start up the shop vac and clean the floor for me once in a while. Most of the time I find myself throwing down the tools and going outside to jump on the trampoline with them, play soccer, or wiffle ball. I figure I have killed an hour talking to someone that has stopped by before, why not spend one with the kids! LOL
I see your point Bill but that brings up an important learning process to. When my son mixes mache or preps a forms he goes straight for the dust mask without being told. Just like when he mows the lawn he know to get ear protection or when we shoot he asks me if we have our eye and ear protection before we leave. To me not only is he learning to work with his hands he is also learning to thinks for himself and asking can this be harmful to my health and using nessary precautions to protect himself. In the world we live in today that is a valuable tool to have.
I used to cut out play houses, castles & jails from the oversized boxes that the mannikins were shipped in. My girls would play in them all day. Sometimes they would decorate them with the airbrush. Whenever they got bored with them I flattened them and put them in the dumpster. When I first started making jawsets my oldest daughter made them with por-a-cast, painted them and shipped them all over the country. At the time she was only in the 4th grade.
Great idea, and good thinking. Like I said, I didnt want my opinion in any way to undermine any of yours and others. I simply wanted to illustrate a different perspective. I didnt go to work with my Dad, but I did get to visit and understand what he did. Thats the angle Ive decided to go with, thats all. Ill be willing to bet Ill have 4 young taxidermists someday, but hopefully, with bigger aspirations too!
This is only my opinion and the way I run my shop, I mean no offense to anyone else on this forum.
My shop is my full time job. My boys (5&10 yrs old) do not work with me in the shop. Personally, I feel that it is very unprofessional to have children in the shop especially when client are there. I need to be in a "place" when I am working and I cannot concentrate with them there. Also I do not like the boys there when work is coming in, going out or I am dealing with clients. I want to give my undivided attention to the client and his work. He is paying me alot of money for my services and deserves my best effort. I would not want to take my car to a garage to have work done and see his kids tightening my lug nuts, checking my oil or jacking up my truck. That is what I am paying the mechanic the big bucks for.
With that said, both of my boys do spend time with me in the shop. They occaisionally "work" with me on the weekends. Usually on one of their projects, squirrel,chipmunk or something. They are very interested in what comes in and what I will be doing next and I am glad to teach them. I hope they both learn and love taxidermy as I do,but also hope their career goals are higher.