Monday, April 21, 2008

A peek into the future of crafting

I'm often asked where I got my craftiness. I imagine for most folks with crafty inclinations used to craft with their mother or another influential female (maybe male!) adult in their lives. Strangely, I didn't have any influence like that in my life. My mom never really crafted with me or my sister. She did sew clothes for us, but never around us. And it turns out that she was totally crafty in the 70s. She was obsessed with embroidery (a-ha! that's where I get it!) and macramé and decoupaged anything she could get her hands on. But as for doing those things with me ... that just never happened.

I'm not sure why mom and I weren't crafty together - we were (and still are) best pals and spent tons and tons of time together. I can't think of many other people who would have been crafty influences on me except for my friend, Lara's, mom. She was crazy crafty and brilliantly artistic. But because I wasn't in her Girl Scout Troop, I didn't get to do much crafting with her.

So where on earth did I get my crafty vibes? I have no clue. I have a feeling my mom's crafty ways were somehow genetically passed down to me. That can happen, right? I also think that most of us have that innate need to create and we just spend a lot of time repressing it. Fortunately, I've busted my need to create wide open. I think I repressed it so long, that now it's just gushing out like I'm a diet coke and someone shoved mentos down my throat. I spent most of my life proclaiming my "non-craftiness" and swore of crafting. Who knows why. I don't remember many opportunities to explore crafting, and until the DIY-resurrgance of the last 10 years or so, crafting seemed a little ... ok, I'll say it .... dorky.

Now here comes the irony: I've experienced this explosion of crafty goodness, but I haven't been very good about sharing it with my daughter. Part of what I love about crafting is that it provides a nice little break from the dredges of everyday life as a mother. Don't get me wrong, I adore my kids, but most of my day is taken up with the minutiae of just keeping us all alive and moving forward. Laundry for four. Cooking for four. Cleaning for four. Shopping for four. Heck, just driving my kids too and from school eats up a good hour and a half of my day.

So my crafting time is my creative time. My time to have fun and create ... by myself. Quite frankly, having my kids join me in my crafting time just kinda ... ruins it for me.

I know, I know! But really, it's just my thing.

But I also know how wonderful crafting can be for a child. I know how important it is to encourage their creativity, to give them opportunities to try new things and to make stuff. And I know that if crafting has made such a difference in my life, it can do the same for them. I can't deny them that chance.

Because my daughter sees me do embroidery all the time, it wasn't surprising that stitching drew her interest so grandly. Several months ago, a group of her friends were playing at our house. I think it was raining or too hot to play outside. Whatever the reason, we found ourselves stuck inside with nothing to do .... or almost nothing. I decided I'd whip out my embroidery hoops and some felt and floss and let the kids have a go at stitching. Even my son got in on the action. Most of the girls thought it was fun, but didn't stick with it very long. One of my daughter's friends, though, really took off with it and did an amazing job. She even went home with a handful of floss and transfers imprinted on felt so she could continue stitching at home.

The kids were stitching some simple designs from the Sublime Stitching book. I had a ton of felt squares, so that's what I stamped (even though stitching on felt is one of my least favorite things to do). They had a blast.

When I heard about Jenny's book signing this past weekend at Ginger's Needlearts shop (which was an amazing place - more about that later) I knew it would be fun to take my daughter and her friend to meet Jenny. I explained that she was the artist who designed and drew the projects they had stitched. Aside from the fun I have seeing Jenny (just getting crafty star struck and enjoying her warm and friendly personality) I really felt it was important for the girls to see a woman who was following a passion, who was creating and incorporating art in her career, and to see and support small businesses (Sublime Stitching and Ginger's).

They were excited to meet her, though they got a bit shy. Jenny was very sweet to them and examined their embroidery they brought with them, and sat for a picture of them. I know they may not have thought much of it at the moment, but I really believe it could have a profound affect on them in later years.

Ah, that I could have had some kind of great crafty community support and inspiration as a kid! Perhaps I would have started this fun crafting journey a long time ago.

Speaking of supporting future crafters, Kathie Sever of Ramonsterwear and Austin author, Bernadette Noll have started an awesome project called the Future Craft Collective.

From their web site:
The future craft collective is about inspiring children to get crafty, to create beauty, while simultaneously teaching them ways of minimizing our impact on this earth. It's about understanding ways of recycling, reducing, reusing, and at the same time, making some really cool stuff.

How fantastic is that? They have some great classes and projects going on for kids, and I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to join in. I highly recommend checking out their web site and classes and camps. Even if you aren't in Austin (and their site mentions that they hope to spread to other cities some day) they have great inspirational posts about what they are doing with the kids.

All of this serves as great reminders that as much as we enjoy our crafty time for ourselves, it's imperative that we share the gift of creative time with our kids, however we can.


  1. Five-star post, sister, amen! Your kids are just way too cute! I've been thinking about this same thing. As it turns out tonight I was planning to take my daughter to a mother/daughter art class. I thought of canceling because we have a big day tomorrow, but you have convinced me to GO and enjoy it. Life is too short! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Hurrah, Kathy! It's so hard balancing it all, and it certainly doesn't mean that we have to kill ourselves trying to accommodate all the creative opportunities for our kids. But when we can, we should, and I think that most of the time ... it's totally worth it. :)

    I hope your class is a blast! Or, if you just don't end up feeling up for the class, you can always stay home and paint with her!


  4. I know exactly what you mean about looking forward to craft time as personal time to relax. I look forward to it every evening.

    But I am also looking forward to when D is older and I can share this with her. Of course, I think it's all about balance, but I want her to know how good it feels to create something and have people gush about it.

  5. I know what you mean about keeping crafting to your self.. but also sharing it with the children. Its like a thing you get to escape to to be all alone, and to be your own person. WE are so much moms all the time Its also nice to call ourselves ARTIST! YOU kidos are adorable. I love it.

  6. hey I wrote the one above... what?? they deleted my name.. I am not anonymous! I am me!!

  7. ditto what everyone has said about finding a balance between sharing craft time while maintaining our own. i look at the two times as seperate beasts- crafting with my kids is a meditation on staying open and enjoying them and their experience, as opposed to my own time which is for introspection.
    thanks for the future craft shout out, by the way!!

  8. Thanks for posting what I've always tried to hide - I prefer crafting on my own! My daughter is now 17 and doing art at college and I have always encouraged and helped her to do craft but when time was limited (as it always is) it was always at the expense of my own time to create and I have to admit that I did begrudge that. Hope you're able to find the balance with your children.

  9. Kathie said it best: Doing something creative within your own mindspace is WAY different than teaching/imparting it to people on the outside. So never feel guilty for wanting to be inside your own groove sometimes! :)

    I am so impressed with Ben's new skillz! You are one brave mama setting a toddler loose with an embroidery needle! :p

  10. Hi,
    I came across your wonderful blog, through Amy 'early bird special' the armrest you made for her is fantastic! Your children are adorable, nice to see little ones stitching. Oh and I am adding Sublime stitching to my wishlist too :)
    I will be back to read more.


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