For as long as I can remember, I have always had this undying love for making things. As a kid, I was always the one staying inside coloring in her new coloring book while the other kids chased each other. Now, don’t get me wrong. I spent my fair share of freeze tag, playing softball and such, but there was nothing so satisfying as quietly perfecting my shading and outlining techniques with a fresh box of Crayolas.
Obviously, just about any child loves drawing and coloring (which is evident from the one-of-a-kind masterpieces covering the walls around the house from my nieces), but for some, it becomes so much more. I very soon realized how fascinating it is to see an image completely unfold right before your eyes. To be able to create something from nothing…to create a tangible expression of the vision in your head is nothing short of exhilarating. For me, drawing was only the beginning of the creative outlets I would adopt. Although it still remains my most beloved hobby, I have long since put aside those childhood dreams of working as a Disney animation artist. Sometimes, life pulls you in directions you never saw and pretty soon, you’re a full-time college student, working nearly full-time at a lousy pizza joint with no time for the things you once loved. Unfortunately, all too often this is the reality for a lot of us. It’s okay though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every moment has led to wonderful memories and opportunities that have shaped who I am. I digress.
My first true experience with the handmade world began fairly early. I can remember watching my mom sit for hours surrounded by various colors of half-used yarn balls, and the clanking together of her aluminum crochet hooks. I remember all of the dainty little doilies and reusable dishcloths throughout the years. I’ll never forget how instantly I grew obsessed with practicing. The repetitive action of stitching, unraveling, stitching, unraveling, there’s something almost therapeutic and meditative in the process. Although this remained my mom’s preferred craft of choice, I craved to expand further. I figured, if I can crochet, why can’t I knit? I made a trip to the craft store and picked up my first set of knitting needles, 1 skein of cheap yarn, and a good ol’ copy of Knitting for Dummies. Jokes aside, the Dummies series are a great start up tool for those unable to attend any formal lessons/classes. I was also amazed at the incredible amount of online tutorials and guides that make learning a cinch!
The interest I would later develop for sewing sort of happened by accident. It wasn’t until some time later (in my mid-20’s) that I realized how cool and how possible it could be to learn. I think for most of us that aren’t raised learning a specific craft, or have no previous introduction, it appears much more intimidating than it actually is. I remember having a pair of jeans that were, like most are for us 5’2″ ladies, too long. Sure, I had previously attempted (successfully) to hem a pair by hand but I thought, “What if I had a machine, could I do it and nobody would tell the difference?” and “What else could I possibly make with it??” Combine that crafty impulse with an amazing almost 50% off Amazon discount and I became the proud owner of a Brother computerized sewing machine. Here I was, a brand new fancy-shmancy machine and no idea what I was doing. Sewing for Dummies to the rescue! After all, it worked for my knitting, right? Countless YouTube videos, craft blogs, hours of reading various techniques, project after project and I still have so much more to learn!
It would be impossible to bring this post to a close without touching on my most recent endeavor: paper crafting. I remember I had first been exposed to the awesomeness that is scrapbooking sometime around my freshman year in college. I made a few basic attempts but believe me, NOTHING to rave about and certainly should not pop up in a portfolio. Nevertheless, it sparked this feeling of joy and contentment and that’s when I knew I needed to continue to learn more. I couldn’t believe the endless possibilities that existed and the variety of ways people could manipulate paper!
Perhaps as equally thrilling as seeing your creation come to life, is the sense that you’re creating something that is one-of-a-kind. Even with some similarities, there will always be some subtle differences that make each item or piece unique. That is the beauty of handmade. It represents passion, sweat, love, drive, and a desire put one’s own individual twist into every project. Each item carries a small piece of the crafter, a small story that is expressed in every color, every stitch, every aspect.