Functional Art Endeavors with my Engineer


One of the things I love about my marriage is how Peter and I like to work together on projects.  I’m a theologian who likes to paint and craft, he’s an aerospace engineer who likes to build.  We have vastly different skills (and interests).  Instead of this being a source of conflict for us, we find that our differences compliment each other.

When we work on a project together, the results often exceed either of our expectations.  I now understand that this dynamic reflects what Stephen Covey talked about in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  “Habit 6: Synergy” is what happens with creative energy when people work so well together that the final product is greater than the sum of the parts (or individual efforts). Peter and I fondly refer to as being a “Super-Couple.”

Below are some of the projects we have worked on together:

Flower Box –  I casually mentioned that I would love a flower box outside of my kitchen window.  A few months later, my engineer built me one out of scrap wood in the garage, and I painted it in some of my favorite colors.

Play Kitchen Food – Shortly after we the boys got a play kitchen for Christmas, I saw the need for more and better play food.  Less plastic foods; more along the lines of the stuff the kids ate and saw in our own home.

Orange Juice Container: Engineer-Boy had a vision of creating a milk container, but since we don’t drink milk out of those half-gallon containers any more, it became an OJ container. Of course, I painted all the details… but I knew my boys would want to try to open and close it, so I was trying to think of a way to make that happen… In comes Peter with the idea to cut the whole plastic contraption off an actual, empty OJ container and glue it on to the wooden side.  Worked PERFECTLY!  One important lesson: although it’s easier to write with a Sharpie, if you polyurethane over it, the Sharpie will run. Use a paint-pen!

Bread: With his jigsaw, Peter cut, shaped, and sanded the bread pieces.  I did the detail paint.

Cookies:  Peter cut the circles out of plywood with a hole cutting drill bit… cutting these took a looooong time, but sanding was pretty straightforward.  I think if we were to do this again, I’d suggest buying wooden circles from a craft store and just painting them.   Important lesson from painting: When dotting the cookies with chocolate chips, avoid the temptation to think “more is better.” My first attempt looked like the cookies had some disease, like chip-pox.  Less is best.

Felt Food: I identified some of the foods we eat… ones that I could easily cut out of felt and glue together (no sewing needed):  fried eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, and lettuce.  I kept the list limited to the foods I knew would be easily recognizable in addition to easy to make.  Just cut and hot glue.  I did sketch lettuce leaf veins with a Sharpie.

“Drafting © Depositphotos.com/Garsya”

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Julie Dienno-Demarest Visit Website
Spiritual Director, Author, Educator
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