Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Crafting or Yoga?

I read an article in a beading newsletter recently in which the author said that, for her, beading was as good as yoga. If the purpose of yoga is to focus the mind and relax, then I have to say she is spot on.  Of course in addition to being relaxing, crafting is also irritating, time consuming, invigorating, inspiring and a bunch of other "ings" including isolating.  I have to admit that I am not a good multitasker when it comes to crafting.  I either want to concentrate on what I am making or do something else.  I just get too involved with the design and complexities of my projects to want to split my focus between what my hands are doing and what my ears are hearing. Sort of like turning down the car radio when you are lost. While I am making jewelry I don't want to watch TV or listen to music or talk.  I especially don't want to talk about what I am doing.  I don't want to explain what it will look like when it is done or why I chose that bead. I don't want to be asked where I got that idea and am I making earrings to go with it.  I certainly don't want any stage of it to be admired...mostly because it might not look like that when it is done.  I break down bracelets all the time and what looks completed right now might be in pieces 10 minutes from now.  OK, so clearly I am a cranky crafter.  At some point I must have been more chatty while doing crafts since my kids have (relatively) fond memories of working with me so I must have talked to them if only to say don't glue your hand to the table.  Those crafts were focused on them, though, and the ones I do now are all about me.  Crafting is my escape, my therapy, my selfish "me" time, and yes, my yoga.  And really, would you be expected to chit chat in the middle of downward facing dog?  Of course not.   That doesn't mean I have to craft in a closet, in the dead of night, when the world is quiet and settled.  I am not waking up at 4 in the morning to string beads by flashlight.  I can craft in the middle of chaos, but my crafting insulates me from it.  So, watch TV, talk amongst yourselves, watch a playoff basketball game.  Just don't expect me to respond when you ask me "Did you see that!!!"  Because, no, I did not...I am doing yoga.

Monday, April 9, 2012

It's a fine line

There is a fine line between enjoying crafting and being obsessed by it.  I know I crossed it several times when my kids were growing up, and they always let  me know when I did.  I vividly recall one Halloween when I was tearing up white sheets in preparation for us to make little ghosts.  I envisioned them poking out of plants, from behind pictures, gazing down from the top of my bookcases.  I was assembling all the stuff at the kitchen markers for the faces, stuffing for the ghost heads, shish kabob sticks to mount them on and orange yarn to tie them up.  My daughter came in, took one look at the table and said "What do we have to make now?" "We don't have to make anything," I replied smugly, "but your brother and I are going to make ghost heads."  That'll show her!  "I don't have to help?" "Nope." "Cool," she said leaving the room.  A little deflated, my son and I made about a dozen of them before he ran out to play.

As I was putting the little ghostly heads around the house, a few things occurred to me. 

1.  It's ok if one or both of the kids chooses not to craft.  Just because I like making things in no way means that they will also like doing so.  Crafting should be something you want to do, not something you have to do. 
2.  Maybe making Halloween ghosts and Halloween candy and Halloween cookies and Halloween costumes and carving jack-o-lanterns was one too many Halloween themed crafts. 
3.  And maybe I should go outside and play with my kids.  Crafts will always be won't.

A couple of days later I passed through the living room and saw my daughter looking at the little ghost head peeking out from behind the mirror on the wall.  She looked over at me and said "Cool ghosts, Mom." Yes, indeed...and a very cool kid, too.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reuse, repurpose, refurbish

When I was growing up in the  50's, we recycled.  We didn't call it that, but that is what it was.  We didn't have paper towels, we had kitchen towels from old flour sacks. We dusted with old cloth diapers.  Clothes were handed down from one child to the next and  when they reached the last child, if there was any life left in the shirts and dresses and pants and skirts, they were given to another family.  If they weren't wearable, they went into the rag bin where they were either cut into strips to tie on the orange tree (apparently my mom thought birds were frightened by worn out T-shirts) or used when my dad washed our car.  When someone moved into a new house, you didn't go out and buy them a dust collecting crystal vase.  You went thru your pantry for food stuffs, your closets for linens and your garden for flowers.  Just because you wore out the knees of your jeans, didn't mean you got new ones.  You got your old ones patched.  If you are my age or older, you have at least one photo of yourself in jeans with huge rectangular patches 5 shades darker covering the knees.  My mom ironed them on even before the knees were shredded.  Don't even get me started on all the things we used old newspapers for.  We weren't the weird family on the block, everyone lived pretty much the same way, with dollar saving practices passed down from their parents. 

As we moved into the 60's, my family stopped doing a lot of the ecnomical things that we had previously done.  There are dozens of reasons why that happened to not only us but the families around us, and an analysis of those reasons has filled shelves of books.  This blog is not about that.  It is about me, my one woman campaign to change the way I live.

Last Christmas for the first time in a long while, I made a lot of my gifts.  Vanilla infused vodka, home made Irish cream, vanilla sugar, home made sweet hot mustard.  Since I had not yet begun to reuse bottles and jars, I had to buy containers.  However, as I was filling up the bottles with the vodka, I was one bottle short.  It was Christmas Eve and World Market was closed.  What to do, what to do?  Then I remembered that only that morning I had finished off the last of the maple syrup and a great star shaped bottle was in the recycle bin.  I pulled it out, washed it up and filled it with vodka for my brother.  An Epiphany!  How much better would it be if all the gifts were in recycled bottles?  It was too late for these gifts, but I vowed then and there that next Christmas I would be prepared.  I now have a shelf in the garage filled with a rapidly growing collection of cool bottles and jars.  And not just to give as gifts.  My beads are in little glass jam jars.  My chains and clasps are in larger jars (hint: don't use old Ragu jars unless you don't mind the spaghetti smell).  There is a cute brown bottle that used to have vanilla extract in it sitting on my desk, filled with hand lotion that now has a nice vanilla-y fragrance.  I have 6 blue beer bottles just waiting for Spring flower cuttings (thank you Bud Light Platinum).

Yes, I know, these are little steps...tiny even.  But we all have to start somewhere and I am starting with bottles and jars.