Kari Marotta, the mom behind Raleigh's new Mess Makers, isn't afraid.
She isn't afraid of spilled paint, balls of play dough rolling around, sticky fingers, smears of glue sticks and any other manner of mess that comes from doing crafts with kids.
The Raleigh mom of two also is a long-time kindergarten teacher and former preschool teacher. So she's seen it all before ... and more. But that mess and the creative work that comes with it are important for young children as they prepare for life, she said.
In other words, it's worth the mess.
When they're cutting, gluing, smearing and painting, kids aren't just creating something. They're developing the skills that will help them succeed in life, she said.
"I'm a firm believe in artful experiences, artful play," Marotta said. "The things that happen are building on developmental skill sets that lead to self-help skills and academic success."
Experts back Marotta up. Studies show that mastery of fine motor skills in kindergarten are a "predictor for reading and math achievement during elementary school," according to the American Psychological Association.
Marotta started Mess Makers this year. There is no permanent space for the pop-art art studio for kids. Right now, she's appearing at local festivals, events and farmers' markets. She also is available for birthday parties and corporate family events.
She was kind enough to spend the morning with Go Ask Mom earlier this month when we took over the commons area during North Hills' Midtown Farmers' Market.
There, she spread out across several tables, lining it with brown paper for any spills and let the kids go crazy with paints, scissors, glue and other craft items. By the end of the four hours, the tables were an explosion of cut paper, projects, markers and more. But Marotta didn't care.
"It's an opportunity to learn how to clean up for kids," she said of messes like this. "We don't get nervous about messes at our house."
She hopes to eventually open a drop-in studios where kids and parents can make a mess and make something.
"I get a lot of moms who say I would never do this in my house," she said.
Marotta would love to offer a permanent place where that mess can happen.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.