The craft resume of the poly-crafter

There is probably no craft in the world that is safe from me at this point.  It seems that I am destined to dabble in all of it eventually.  It seems to go in waves, partly depending on my free time and the nature of my responsibilities.  I work outside the home in a full-time job, and I have a kid.  But my workday ends, and my kid takes naps, and then sometimes I craft if I’m not playing board games or doing chores.  I never slow down until bedtime – and then I sleep like a rock!! It’s a very full, but very happy life.  My husband is wonderfully supportive of my crafting and art, and my friends and family are great enablers.

Sewing:  Sewing is probably the craft I have the longest history with.  I started hand-sewing costumes for my toy ponies as a kid.  Soon I moved up to designing my own halloween costumes.  In college, I worked in the Theater department’s costume shop, and later worked at a tailor’s shop.  I picked up patchwork quilting when I first got together with my husband, who I soon after married, as a way of making our home more cozy and beautiful.

Knitting and fiber arts:  I didn’t learn to knit or crochet until college, and then only because I had learned to spin and needed a project for all that yarn!  I also jumped into dyeing, and much later I have dabbled with weaving.  I have passed Master Knitter level I, but that program takes a lot of commitment and I haven’t carved out time to progress further in it yet.  It is self-paced, and I know I will finish eventually.  I have also lately joined a knitting guild where I enjoy chatting with knitters of all levels, skills and interests.

Graphic and paper arts:  I consider a lot of my paper crafting to be in the same category as my graphic design.  It’s all about the layout of premade elements.  I am not trained as a graphic designer, but at the large institution I work at, I have had the privilege to wear many hats.  I spent a few years with graphic design as 50% of my job description.  Stamping, cardmaking, and scrapbooking are, for me, a screen-less way to practice the same layout skills, but with the added bonus that I can bring in mixed-media techniques when I like.  This is not to say I dislike design on a computer, just that it’s nice to see it from a different angle, and my eyeballs get tired of screens after a long workday.

Fine arts:  To me, the only difference between fine art and craft is intention.  An item that I intend to have a purpose, such as a gift, a communication to a specific person (e.g. scrapbook for my little boy, card for a friend), or an article meant to be worn, is a craft.  An item that exists for its own sake, meant tangentially to communicate to any passerby but ultimately just self-expression, would be an item of fine art.  Obviously, there is a lot of grey area – what would I call a wall-hanging that I did for the purpose of beautifying my wall?  Probably craft, but it walks a very fine line.

Soap, jewelry, and all the rest:  Does the crafting stop at fabric and paper?  No, certainly not!  Some crafts have a specific time and place (e.g., I make soap every other year for holiday gifts).  Other crafts pop up as needed (e.g., I need a new necklace for some outfit).  And who knows what else I might dabble in along the way!

Learning:  First, I want to say that I feel strongly that it’s ok to make terrible-looking projects.  It’s ok if crafts don’t work out right the first time – or the first ten times!  People ask how I learned to do this and that, and I tell them that the most important thing is to be patient with yourself.  The road to mastery is paved with failures and so-so work.  Not that I’m a master yet at any craft!  But that is the journey.

I do have a bachelor’s degree in art (also one in biology, and a Master’s in Education for Adult Learners, for the record – this is the multiple-interest motif again!), which influences my work in drawing and printmaking.  But most of the other crafts I get into, I tend to learn from books, blogs, videos, or other self-paced experiences.  I rarely get to craft classes or group meetings.  I hate the term “self-taught” because it implies that one has discovered a technique in a vacuum.  I think the wonderful thing about the vibrant online craft community is that we are all learning and growing in one enormous craft collective, even if we aren’t meeting in-person.  Everyone’s work is influenced by the techniques of others, just like in a studio art class.  It’s a massive, world-wide dialogue.

I only hope that this blog can contribute a little to that dialogue.

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