You've probably done plenty of crafts with your kids (or if you're like me, with your kid sisters). From sand sculptures to finger painting to macaroni art, I've attempted to keep my younger siblings busy on long afternoons with every messy and colorful kit I could get my hands on at the craft store, but you know what they always liked the best? Drawing. So I thought to myself, why not funnel their love of scribbles into something valuable (instead of an entire legal pad with one wavy line on each page)? And thus was born our family's local card-manufacturing business.

Now, I don't want to fool you. We aren't anywhere near Hallmark as output and production quality go. We use recycled paper and our mediums are crayons, colored pencils, and if I'm feeling especially kind, watercolors. But we do have a lot of fun. Although one sister is now 23 and well into her own adult life (she has given up cards and moved on to cartoon blogging), my youngest sibling is only ten and still adores the printed medium. She's the one who has really made it into a profitable business (she's quite the go-getter). She designs all the cards and has a wide array of subject matter. Her favorite seems to be depictions of little girls with long, blond braids (suspiciously similar to her own) engaged in various activities from dancing to soccer to flying. But she also does animals, landscapes, and the occasional musical instrument (forget dogs playing cards, one of her best sellers was a large black dog playing violin!).

Now, many kids will create cards for special occasions like Valentine's Day, birthdays, or the winter holidays. But my sister prides herself on making blank cards that could work for any occasion (although some have a definite "celebratory" theme). And what she has done with them is really something special. We help her scan the images onto the computer and print out copies. She then mixes them into boxes of ten, which she sells for five dollars to friends, family, and members of our church. But you'll be really amazed by what she does with the money. Half of it gets donated to a charity of her choice (we thought the Red Cross would be a good idea) and the other half she puts into a savings account at the local credit union. I don't suppose a 10-year-old has much call for cash in her pocket, but I am still surprised that she doesn't hold any back to spend immediately.

Although I am proud of her for starting this enterprise (with very little prodding) and I marvel at the money management skills she has adopted (I didn't learn to budget until I was over twenty), I think the best part of introducing a child to crafts of any sort is that they are constantly surprising us with their creative spirit and ingenuity. In many ways, she has taught me a lot about what it means to be an artist, and how to appreciate what I create. You'll never hear her say that her art is "not good enough". In her eyes, it's always perfect.

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