artsy fartsy,  crafts gone wrong

The Flashlight Flop


My idea was to paint flashlights in patriotic stars and stripes. Then we’d attach red or blue cellophane and one some wiggly chenille stems in front of the lenses and it would be sparkly and cool. What better way to wait for fireworks than a fun flashlight to play with right?

stripe painting Rapunzel painting

SuperChic painting mauve is totally patriotic

If crafting success is rated by how many daylight hours were spent happily painting, then this was a smashing success. The kids had a blast painting. If success is rated on magazine-quality photos then it was a disastrous flop. The paint did not stick to the smooth plastic of the flashlights.

It’s not really shown in these photos but when I pulled off the masking tape that I had so carefully taped on there to create stripes, it pulled the paint off with it! The foam stars didn’t work either. Paint seeped in around the star edges and when they were removed the blank space was a sloppy smudged blob instead.

sloppy paint job

star idea

Painting a star on the lens didn’t really work out either.

attaching the chenile stems

But you know what did work? The chenille stems. They were totally funky and cool.

twinkle twinkle

They make neat wiggly shadows in the dark.

I think this craft could be rescued by either painting with some special made-for-plastic spray paint or maybe roughing up the plastic of the flashlights with sandpaper before painting. We probably should have used painters tape instead of masking tape too but… we used what we had on hand and it was fun.

making spooky faces

Sometimes the process is more important than the end result anyway.


  • Madge

    At least you were able to keep everyone entertained for an entire day. Isn’t that the measurement of success for crafts with kids? :)

  • a chris

    What a great idea. A flashlight holds a certain amount of magic all by itself when you’re a kid – or maybe it’s just me? The important part worked — the cellophane and pipe cleaners.

    Love seeing those cousins having fun together.

    I’m guessing you’re right — probably sanding and using whatever paint they use on plastic model cars and rockets would have kept the paint on the flashlights. Makes it a more expensive craft though, and maybe a bit toxic for small kids to be handling. Bethany’s tape idea sounds like an efficient way to nice-looking stripes.

    I keep thinking “masking fluid”…wonder if strips of paper and stars could be stuck on with rubber cement and the cement rubbed off when the paint’s dry.

  • Sonja

    I like Bethany’s idea. You could also stick foam stars on as decorations. Of course, the downside is that it won’t take half as long to make.

  • Ninabi

    I think this is a cute craft idea. What about having an adult spray the flashlights with primer (such as Kilz, low odor version) a day prior to the kids’ craft time? (My father in law renovates houses for “fun” and swears by Kilz when stuck with a slick surface that needs to be painted).

  • Lady in a Smalltown

    You could use electric which often comes in colors. Also, I think duct/duck tape comes in lots of colors now. You could also cut or punch stars out of the tape.

    This is a cute idea though.

  • OMSH

    Jeff always tells me the journey is important. I TRY VERY HARD TO REMEMBER THAT – especially when driving to places 8 or more hours away.

    HOWEVER…crafts? I need aesthetics at the end for it to be worthwhile for me. Maybe spray paint would have done better? Oh wait, there’s overspray. Geez louise, I have no solution, but kudos to the idea – it SOUNDS excellent, and when the lights go out, it’s all good anyway, right?

  • Leesa

    you are right- it’s not the product, it’s the process that counts with kids. You can bet the kids will remember the day fondly even if to you it was a disappointment. The cello and chenille stems look super, and the happy absorbed faces tell it all.
    keep enjoying time together, it’s all good!

  • BeachMama

    I think if you had fun doing it and they still shone some light at the end of the day it was a true success. At least you keep thinking of these awesome ideas. I just borrow ideas from others.

  • Kelly

    I love this post!
    Sometimes it’s intimidating to see all the super-mom crafts and think to yourself “yeah right, so won’t work at my house”. But so what :) Get out there and try it with the kids anyway. Some times it won’t work out but that shouldn’t stop you from getting your and your kids’ hands dirty!

  • Uncle George

    Spray paint’s no fun for those kids (er, it would be, but what a mess). Fine sandpaper and now the model stores have the same paint Brion and I used to paint WWII airplanes in water-based formulas.

  • Kuky

    I bet Isabelle would love doing this. She doesn’t care how it turns out much. She just loves crafting. And a flashlight? That’s awesome all by itself. :)