Friday, March 23, 2012

Skeletons of crafts past

I'll bet there is not a crafter in the world who has tried only one craft.  I would venture to suggest that we all have crafting closets crammed full of past relics.  Maybe not real closets, although I imagine there are plenty of us who have those, but certainly closets in our memories.  I personally have crammed tons of old crafts and their accompanying detritus into bins, boxes and storage areas until I reach that certain time when I come across them and think "why on earth did I ever want to make that"!  So I have been thinking a lot lately about why we craft and what we craft and why we stop crafting. 


Sometimes I have made things out of necessity.  When my kids had Cabbage Patch dolls, I made them clothes, quilts, bibs, a carrier and even matching clothes for my kids. Partly because it was fun, but mostly because I just couldn't afford the astronomical price of store bought accessories.  What I could afford was a variety of colorful fabrics so that my son and his doll had matching shorts and my daughter and her doll had matching dresses.  I even made my own patterns by ripping apart old shorts and dresses to follow the lines.  I tried my hand at making an actual doll with less than stellar results.  It was lumpy, fragile and completely unattractive.  I wasn't even upset when my dog took it outside where I found it weeks later in the dog house.  Apparently smoothly stuffed and pretty aren't canine requirements for a woobie.

Some crafts I have tried my hand at have been an attempt to make something prettier.  When my son was a baby and spent a lot of time on his tummy during naps, I found myself looking at the back of his shorts and thinking, wouldn't a little butterfly look cute there?  So I embroidered one and yes, it did look cute.  But it took a surprising amount of time and he outgrew the shorts, so that was the end of that.  I once did a labor intensive band of counted crosstitch for one of my daughter's Christmas dresses only to have her ask "do I have to wear that?" My crafter's spirit rose up in affront and my first thought was "YES, YOU HAVE TO WEAR IT!!! WHAT KIND OF A DAUGHTER DOESN'T TREASURE SOMETHING HER HARD WORKING MOTHER HAS CRAFTED HER FINGERS TO THE BONE OVER???"  Fortunately my rational, non-crafter's side asked "Don't you want to?".  To which she replied "Yes. I just wondered if I had to". 

Sometimes I tried crafting things just because everyone else was happily crafting away.  Take stamping.  I loathe stamping and all the ink that goes with it.  But, I went to a stamp party and soon had an array of stamps...holiday stamps, birthday stamps, stars, flowers, butterflies, leaves, basketballs (?), stamps with my kids' names, even stamps with my kids' faces! Red ink pads, black ink pads, emerald green, glittering silver, purple, pink ink pads. Even a glow in the dark ink pad that was supposed to be so amazing that your kids would enshrine you in their hearts forever.  By stamping, we were all supposed to save a ton of money in greeting cards alone.  No one factored in the cost of the card stock used as we tried to perfect the quick stamp and release.  And no one factored in what happened when you encouraged your kids to "stamp with mom".  Red meets black meets green meets purple.  The glow in the dark pad was collateral damage.

Some crafts seemed like a good idea at the time but turned out to be costly/messy/dangerous.  I once traded a sketch I had made of a deer for a big block of beeswax, with images of the amazing candles I would craft dancing in my head. I made one batch of tiny little candles in molds and almost burned the house down in the process.  Who knew wax was flammable?  Probably every other person who has tried to make candles on their kitchen stove. 

So here is a list of crafts I have tried in no particular order.  I am sure I am forgetting some.  Rug hooking, sewing, embroidery, candy making, doll making, stuffed animals, stamping, counted crosstitch, quilting, crocheting, knitting, decoupage, sketching, water colors, woodcrafting, leaded glass work, making pillows, Christmas ornaments, decorative painting, plaster casting, pottery, stencilling, macrame, collecting little pieces of driftwood and gluing on straw flowers, candle making, upholstery, refinishing furniture, beading, jewelry making, wood burning, tie dying, creating transfers for T-shirts, card making, making sachets/potpourri, making bowls out of partially melted LP records, canning, scrapbooking, shadow boxes, cake decorating and food crafts. 

Some I loved, some I hated, some I was just plain awful at and some have provided endless hours of enjoyment, both in the crafting and in the wearing/admiring/gift giving.  And nothing compares to the feeling that you have when someone picks up something you have crafted, whether it be a crocheted throw or a bottle of homemade Baileys and says "You made this?  Cool!" Of course, if they pick it up and say "You made this?  Yikes!", then calmly say "Of course not.  I bought it at the Elementary School Crafting Fair in (insert far away city here in case they want to attend next year's fair).  It's a wonderful event, held every year to raise money so that all the kids, bless their hearts,  can go on this great field trip....." 

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