I’ve always had a crafty bent. I started off life as a fiction writer–I wrote my “first book” at the tender age of 5. It was a short book about rainbows, written, illustrated, and “published” by me. I don’t remember how I did it, but I created a hard back cover for my book and displayed it in my room for a long time.
Writing has remained, and will always be, my first craft love. My first real published piece was in high school. It was a short story I wrote for English class. My teacher encouraged me to submit it. Shortly after that, life happened, then MS happened, through it all I continued to write.
I have two books published with big name publishing companies, and over the years I’m had several hundred articles published in print magazines, e-zines, electronic and print newsletters. Plus I worked as a copywriter and ghost writer for about 10 years, as such I’ve had hundreds more pieces published.
But, I’ve always gone through periods of time when I become inspired to create “art, ” such as it is. In my mid 20’s I decided to attend school to become a graphic designer. I had to take a drawing test in order to get in, and I was lousy at drawing. The project I chose for the test was to create a three-foot tall game of “Pin the Tail on the Eeyore” for my very young daughter’s upcoming birthday. It turned out well, and for some reason the test reviewers were impressed that I blew up the picture of Eeyore by hand, and by eye. I still don’t understand the fuss they made. Taking an existing image and enlarging it by hand is easy— drawing the images from my head, is next to impossible. A few months after I started graphic design school my then-husband and I split. Overnight I was a single mom of two. I suppose I could have (maybe even should have) finished the two-year program, but working full-time and going to school full-time while being mom to one toddler and one infant was too much. My kids saw more of the babysitter than they did of me, and that was not the kind of mother I wanted to be. I had to work to support my kids, so I quit graphic design school. In doing so I put away all things “arts and crafts” for a very long time.
It’s just been a couple of years since I took up fiber arts again. Things like knitting, crocheting and weaving. Then I started playing with the sewing machine which had been sitting unused in my closet for 20 years. The return to the fiber arts my grandmother taught me, along with learning to sew was brought about by my family joining the SCA–Society for Creative Anachronism.
Since then I’ve started playing with practical crafts again. I’m designing and knitting socks, scarves and sweaters for my family, and designing and knitting tank tops for me. Currently, I’m designing and making a series of custom men’s ties that I intend to donate to the non-profit were my husband works. I’ve made several pieces of clothing for my pre-teen daughter using recycled woman’s clothes and accessories. Her favorite is a lace skirt I made from a woman’s top. A few months ago I took apart a really long, wide scarf she loved, and turned it into a dressy tank top for her. She loves it, and it looks awesome with a pair of jeans.
My husband is taking the carpet out of our house for me, and replacing it with laminate and wood flooring, and we’ve discovered that our elderly dogs are having trouble walking on the laminate floor. So, I’m designing “runner rugs” for the hallways and areas the dogs walk through the most. The designs are finished in my head, but before I can transfer them to paper and start creating, I need to decide on the method of creation. I’m either going to knit or weave them. I’m more confident about my abilities to create the design through knitting– in fact, I could sit down and knit them from the plans in my head without any kind of written pattern. Weaving, not so much. I’ve only completed two weaving projects, ever. But, I think weaving will be faster than knitting and might hold up better. I have a big floor loom that I picked up at a thrift store for a really good price about a year ago.
I like useful crafts. Things that make everyday life more interesting and that bring a bit of personality… soul.. if you will, to the mundane.
Yesterday, I realized that my planning notebook needs replaced. It’s a standard sized 3 ring binder and the cover is ripping off from a lot of hard use. I keep the notebook in my purse. I started looking at the books I have set aside and it occurred to me that a hardcover book would make a perfect 3 ring binder for me. So, I started playing with ways to put it together. This morning I experimented with an idea. It worked beautifully. The binder I made is too big for my purse, so I’ll have to keep looking. The one I made is perfect most uses, though. I’ll post instructions and pictures once the glue sets.
I’ve figured out that my writing has stalled because I’ve been neglecting other, just as important, creative aspects. Over the last few days I’ve had a lot of practical craft ideas that are demanding my attention, and giving those ideas room to breathe, I’m more productive at the keyboard. For the last 20 years of so I’ve been writing non-fiction in many different forms while neglecting fiction and most other creative pursuits. I think that might be why my writing has stalled– too much focus on facts and information sharing, and not enough time to be creative.
I’m going to try to do a better job of balancing the two.