Thursday, August 1, 2013

Getting Crafty

I have never considered myself a crafty person. Actually, I actively avoided anything craft-like for a very, very long time. I would rather someone else craft something for me or buy something rather than embark on the painful, frustrating process of crafting something.

However, last Christmas I was dating someone who valued handmade gifts above anything else. I decided to embark on a project for her because I knew it would be meaningful, not only because it was handmade, but because it would be the first crafted thing I'd done in about a century. Through talking with Jen I realized the root cause of my craft aversion...

Growing up with a fantastically talented artist mother I saw examples of stunning art all around me. Our house was mostly filled with her artwork and the woman is talented beyond measure (take a peek here). In addition to being an artist she's also the most talented handiworker, crafter, DIYer, project creator ever. Check out her blog. As someone not at all confident in her artistic or crafting skills and as a ruthless perfectionist who was raised to excel in all things attempted, I long ago decided that I was never going to be anywhere close to as good as her at doing any sort of handiwork so I decided why bother? In my mind I'd have an image of what my finished project should look like (something my mom could easily do) and when I got done it would look like a blind orangutan had completed it and the defeat was always crushing. So crafting became my enemy, and like all enemies of mine it ceased to exist in my mind.

While talking with Jen about this she pointed out that really the only person this was impairing was me, and maybe I ought to try DIY-ing some stuff for myself and with low expectations. I was skeptical but decided I would try it.

I decided to tackle home made snow globes in Vos water bottles. I saw the idea in a book at Barnes & Noble (can't remember which one...some photography DIY book). I also can't find any pics of my finished projects and rather than delay this post I found this person posted a blog post about them and a couple pictures. Mine were a bit different though. I decided to put pictures inside rather than random snowflakes or some other winter scene. I gave myself several weeks of time to complete the project because I knew there would be bumps and snafus along the way and I know myself well enough to know that I would get frustrated and pissed off plenty along the way and adding a time crunch would only serve to be defeating. I ended up working on the project nearly every day for 2-3 weeks! I had to make several revisions along the way as my idea translated into reality and I realized certain things wouldn't work. What I ended up doing was creating 6 snow globes. Five for my closest friends in Chico and one for Jen. I wanted to practice on my friends' globes before I attempted the most important one. The final product consisted of three pictures of the friend and I which I digitally stitched together into a long strip and some sort of friendship quote/image that I glued to the back of the strip of pictures. They turned out really nice and even though they weren't the original idea I had pictured, I was very pleased with the projects AND the experience. I got a little boost of confidence back in my skills...

But naturally, life gets busy. I didn't craft anything all spring as I was just trying to work and manage a chaotic personal life. But this summer I decided to try something new! My good friend Nandi is an amazing tie-dyer. I asked her to teach me how to tie-dye. I can vaguely remember tie-dying a shirt or two as a kid, but hadn't attempted anything else since then. For the past month I have been working on improving my skills and loving EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. of it. I found something I could enjoy and am pretty good at it. I think one of the things I like best is that tie-dying leaves a lot of room for errors. You never exactly know what something is going to look like when it's done; it's just the nature of working withe tie-dye. I still get annoyed if I accidentally drip a dark color spot on some place it wasn't supposed to go, but I'm working on not being all fatalistic about it. It's life; move on.

This past week my mom came to visit and wanted to learn how to tie-dye. I was really nervous about teaching her. If Picasso asked you to teach him something crafty you might also feel a bit of pressure ;) To my relief it went not only well, but it was a lot of fun! She was a great student who was very attentive and asked a lot of questions and made me feel like I knew what I was doing! Whew! I'm not ready to be all gung-ho Martha Stewart, but I also don't feel like I want to slap small children when someone asks me if I want to craft something! Progress!

Some of my lovely tie-dying:

My very first tie-dye piece completed!

A onesie I made for my nephew!

Some groovy capri yoga pants I made for my sister