Last night, as I was pinning together the two halves of some toddler long johns I was sewing from the felted-wool sleeves an up-cycled Norwegian sweater I picked up at the thrift store, I thought three things.
One: “If someone described to me the action I am currently engaged in and used the term ‘up-cycled’ I would think this was the most obnoxious hipster-craft behavior ever.”
Two: “Oh my God, it’s working! These actually kinda look like pants! This is totally fun!”
Three: “There really should be some affirmations or something at this time of year for crafty people who tend to get in over their head.”
So, about that last one. Here’s what I have learned: I am a compulsively creative person. I paint, mural, cook, write, build stuff, garden, attempt to suck less at sewing, and, if left alone with a plate of mashed potatoes, will sculpt fabulous volcanoes complete with melting-butter lava. Somewhere in my house, at any given time, multiple projects are exploding. It’s a sickness.
I think almost everyone is born creative, and can continue to be, in one way or another. Even accountants can get creative, assuming they have a lawyer who is equally creative to defend them.
There is a certain type of creative that is often called crafty. Crafty stuff is always hands-on. It is not the high-art intellectual creativity of writing poems or composing music. Crafty is more Madison, WI than Madison Ave. Crafters get paper cuts on their thumbs and sawdust in their hair and hot glue gun blisters. They generally transform pretty mundane stuff – paper, fabric, driftwood, old tee-shirts – into new, fun, but not exactly museum-piece items like cards, skirts, candleholders or braided hippie rugs.
There are two problems with being crafty. The first is craft stores, which are like a land-mine strewn beach for the crafter’s wallet. Those of you who’ve never been in one of the Mega Craft Stores, it is exactly like walking into Pinterest except you sneeze more from the gawdawful fake floral section. There are possibilities….everywhere. In the craft store you realize that you can relive your greatest pre-school Play-Doh achievements…on a cake! With something called fondant! You can sew a Space Shuttle out of colored vinyl! You can buy 14 million beads for $2.95…hey, haven’t you always wanted to try jewelry-making?
The second problem with being crafty is that, after awhile, you don’t even need the craft store. The whole fucking world turns into a giant craft supply depot. You can’t walk down the street without thinking, “Hey look, those pinecones are in good shape. I could spray paint those for ornaments this year.” A week later you still have pine-cone chad in your purse. Your favorite long sleeve tee blows a hole in the elbow? You stash it with the pile of other old tee-shirts you’re saving because one day you will find time to start making all your son’s draw-string pants from old tee-shirts. At the beach you start looking for an intact crab shell because you have this idea of attempting a lost wax casting. A month later and you’re thinking that smell is never coming out of your car’s upholstery.
If you’ve really got a crafter-hoarder problem, you turn old Christmas cards into holiday prayer flags to decorate your mantle and people know to bring you chipped Fiesta-ware because one day you plan to tile a rustic mosaic birdbath with carefully-broken plates. Obviously old candle stubs go into their special “re-melt” box for when you get around to making more candles, and the ends of crayons get set aside for melting those cute toddler crayon disks.
I tease, my crafty friends, because I am one of you. I understand the logic of spending $40 on supplies to attempt a project that, if it works, will net you an item that you could buy new at Old Navy for $12.95. I understand that Etsy isn’t so much a shopping center as an idea center – a place where crafters go to glean inspiration from our betters (and sometimes not our betters), all while saying, “$50 for kids slippers? I can make those with that old felted wool sweater I’ve had in my closet for 6 years!”
It’s all good fun, as long as we do not get overwhelmed by the swirling vortex of crafty possibilities all around us. And since this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is primo craft inspiration time – the pinnacle moment for homey, creative feelings – it’s a good idea to occasionally repeat the Crafter’s Affirmations.
Holiday Affirmations for Crafters
I will not go to the Craft Store without a coupon.
I will not go to the Craft Store “just to look.”
I will never again attempt to make a fresh cranberry garland for the Christmas Tree. No popcorn garlands, either.
Martha Stewart has a huge staff. I am just me.
This event does not have to be scrapbooked now. Or maybe ever.
I can appreciate inspiration without acting on it.
I can recognize that I could do or make something without feeling compelled to do or make it.
It is okay to specialize. (“Oooh, look, is that air dry clay…? No! Focus!”)
It is okay to move on from old interests.
I can bless new knitters with my old yarn.
There is never an excuse for puffy paint.
It is okay to not sew (knit/crochet/paint/sculpt/etc.) something for people this year.
I will not craft any gifts which will stress me out so much that I start to resent the recipient of the gift.
I do not have to make my own holiday cards. But since I love making holiday cards, I promise to start in March next year.
Anything I make for children will get stained and/or broken. I own this fact before I spend 20 hours making it.
A homemade Christmas is a mood, not a competition.
Perfect things don’t have good stories.
If all else fails, I can give wine.
Did I miss any? What are your Crafter’s Affirmation?1