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.