I Build an Airplane on My Dining Room Table.

Yes, I did build an airplane right here at home. And now I will tell you all about it.

A little while ago I was continuing my search of local museums for online activities or classes. I also wanted to know which ones might be open for visiting. I have found museum visits to be a balm for my nerves and worries in these times.

I arrived at the website of The Delaware Contemporary, located in Wilmington, DE, about an hour from my house. I’ve visited here a couple of times in person before the pandemic and always enjoyed myself.

The Museum was founded in 1979 by a group of artists and collectors, according to its website. A non-collecting museum, it focuses on presenting exhibits, education and outreach for the community, supporting artist growth through exhibits and providing work spaces, and bringing the power of art to the community at large.

I will certainly be visiting here in person. But what I want to talk about here is something I noticed as I wandered through the site: the Art Takeout.

It’s simple: You sign up and for a small fee, each month you get an art project related to a current exhibit plus supporting materials. I’ll show you my first one and you’ll see how it works.


I received a package in the mail and when I opened it I saw this:

Already I liked it. The project is in a real takeout box.

There was some written information about the three aspects of the takeout box. Each month, these three aspects will be covered in the box.

Here is the visual: a print from the exhibit that’s the theme of the box.

The exhibit is called Ridem, by Gene Hracho. (Follow the link to read about the real-life art object at the museum site). And here is the written info I received about it.

So now I had a context for my art activity. I then turned to the pairing item. Each month, a sensory experience related to the exhibit is included. Imagine my surprise when I opened a little bag and found these:

And here is the information I read about these three little bells.

I’ve seen small bells like these before. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is a string of similar bells my grandmother had on a cord near the stairs to the lower level of the house. She didn’t like yelling up and down the stairs to get someone’s attention. Instead, we rang the bells. They were surprisingly loud and cut through conversation or TV noise. When it was time for dinner, we jingled the bells good and hard to get everyone to come to the table.

So I gave these bells a tryout. What a good sound they made to my ear!

The cat, though, was of another mind. At the first jingle, he came to alert, looking startled. When I shook them again…he leaped to the floor and slunk away very quickly. I was surprised – I had no idea he didn’t like the sound and I don’t know what it means to him. (Since that day I’ve rung the bells a couple more times and he reacts the same way. So…I will be only trying a jingle here or here when he’s not around, I think.)

All right. Now on to the art activity. I recieved this small kit to make a tiny airplane.

I was very excited about putting this model together. When I was a child I made a couple of model cars, but I haven’t done anything like this in decades.

I opened the box and put the pieces into containers to keep them from getting lost.

The museum had enclosed some additional embellishments. I decided to put the model together and then see if I wanted to use them. I do love the assortment, though – washi tape, wire, beads…

All right. Let’s get started. I pulled out the directions. On one side, the finished plane. OK, I see how it’s going to look.

I turned the paper over. Oh my goodness. The directions are tiny pictures.

Everyone, this project was right up my alley and I knew it as soon as I saw this page. Aside from the fact that my aging eyes do not see details as well as they once did, I love to put things together, and I love figuring out little diagrams like these. It’s a puzzle, rewarding patience and logic. A project like this is calming. There is an answer. The parts will go together and make a whole. I find that idea very satisfying.

I reviewed the parts list at top. Hint: always do this with a model. Often pieces look alike…and then you realize there is a detail that makes them different, and if you choose wrongly, that difference will stop progress.

Then I got to work. At each step I lined up the pieces I needed, like this.

I settled into a pleasantly meditative process. Sort the pieces, line them up, understand the sequence, and put them together. The kit even provided tools.

The process went pretty smoothly. I had to reverse course and take a section apart only one time. And in the course of time, I had created a tiny airplane. Look! Look!

I was so excited, I just can’t tell you. In this one afternoon, I had rediscovered something I had forgotten: I like putting things together like this little guy.

And, I felt calm and focused while I was working on it. I enjoyed the challenge of sorting out how to make the process work; the directions don’t do it for you, even if they are a guide – your hands and your eyes and your mind have to work together.

The plane was perfect just as it was, I decided, so I didn’t add any of the embellishments. I did keep them. Who knows, my next project may be perfect for them.

And now I have this cute little airplane!

Thank you to The Delaware Contemporary for their well-though-out project box that was so rewarding to me. I am really looking forward to the next one.

Now, here is the little plane taxiing before taking off for some adventures!

35 thoughts on “I Build an Airplane on My Dining Room Table.

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    What a fun idea for a subscription box and oh so clever of the museum to innovate its revenue stream at this time of much reduced museum footfall. I love that this project was a rediscovery of something you have enjoyed in the past.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      When I was in high school vocational testing showed me to have a high aptitude for mechanical pursuits. Naturally I went into office work. Girls did not put things together or build things back then. Not even so much now, too, I guess. It is a shame. Anyway, I wonder what my work life would have been if I had followed this path. Well, in today’s world, I am going to get some more models and put them together.

  2. agnesashe

    That is all brilliant. And, isn’t it uplifting to see that some museums who can’t have visitors have put on their thinking caps and come up with such a fab and innovative way of engaging. Plus, such a benefit for people all stuck at home and missing their cultural experiences. Loved your finished flying machine.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I follow several museums near us and have been doing art activities through their web sites (often the kids activities – surprising how much fun and how complex many of them can be). This one from the The Del Contemporary is great because it is like getting a little present inthe mail. I loved doing the model and have since bought two kits for more to do – some construction equipment and a little house. Kind of crazy but it is just right for now, and the cost is almost nothing in terms of money, just my time!

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