By day, Scott Bedford is the U.K.-based creative director of a mobile marketing company. But when he leaves the office, he’s a craft project genius. Since 2010, he’s been blogging about kid-friendly projects at WhatIMade.com, his Webby award-winning site.
Always a creative person, Bedford began offering tips and instructions to others through the blog when he began making projects with his two sons, now aged five and nine. And he’s sharing them with other dads (and moms) in his new book Made By Dad: 67 Blueprints For Making Cool Stuff. There’s a bunk bed communicator made from cardboard tubes, and a rubber-band rocket car.
Some projects will take only a few minutes, while others could eat up hours. In the lead up to Father’s Day, The Globe’s Dave McGinn spoke to Bedford about dad crafts.
Why should dads do crafts with their kids instead of playing video games or kicking a ball around in the backyard?
If you’re doing these projects with kids, you really are able to step back and enjoy their sense of humour. The fun is really in that you have an opportunity to let the imagination run wild. And it’s an opportunity to sit with your kids, undistracted. You can’t do one of these things and be on your phone. You come out of it and realize you’ve spent some great time with your kids.
How good at crafting does a dad need to be to do this stuff?
I really wanted the book to have an inclusive feel. Anyone can pick it up and give it a go. There are some projects that are really easy and can be done in a few minutes, and some that could take an afternoon or longer.
Do you see the book as geared more toward boys than girls?
I have two boys, and inevitably that’s played a part in the projects that I’ve gone for. But it’s not for just boys. What I’ve found from my blog is that there are quite a lot of moms who get really excited about seeing stuff that doesn’t cater in a sort of obvious pinky-princess way to girls.
As far as materials go, how much stuff do you need to do these projects? Is this the excuse dads need to get a new tool belt?
I really, really didn’t want to use specialized equipment. There are one or two projects where you need a drill and a screwdriver. And you might need to buy a craft knife. But most of the materials are salvaged from around the house. For example, I use cardboard tubes on a few projects.
Where do you suggest a dad start with the book?
If on Father’s Day you’re lucky enough to be taken out for a cup of coffee, you could grab some of the wooden stir sticks and a few cups and start with the Frankenstein Fling. You just force the stick through the cup and that becomes the bolt in Frankenstein’s neck.
You play by balancing a coin on the stick and try to flick it in to the cup.
What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when you are doing these projects with kids?
I really, really hope that dads look at the projects and a smile goes on their face and their mind goes back to when they were kids. And just have some fun. But the main thing is that the fun is in the making. It’s great to have the thing at the end, I think dads need to work toward that, but the quality time is the time you spent building it with your kids. That’s what you need to focus on.