THE WHOS AND WHATS OF CRAFTING
WHAT IS CRAFTING?
Crafting includes a whole host of activities associated with skillful attempts at making useful things with your hands and resulting in stocking stuffers, grab bag items, and painted rocks. Some crafts have been practiced for centuries. These crafts were created using skills passed down from generation to generation, and were motivated by necessity, such as baskets and pottery, or artistic expression, such as baskets and more pottery. Today, there is a much more leisurely attitude towards crafting, and virtually anyone without a job and access to pipe cleaners can join the elite society of crafters.
IS CRAFTING RIGHT FOR ME?
Anybody can craft! There are an exhausting amount of crafts requiring a wide array of skills, so that regardless of age or artistic ability there is a project that is perfect for you . . . if you possess the right natural tools. Unfortunately if you don't, all the desire, knowledge of cross-stitching, and yarn in the world will at best amount to hamster bedding. The following characteristics are essential for a successful crafter. Firstly, every crafter must possess an almost contortionist-like dexterity or monkey-hands, and strong agile fingers capable of bending thick wire into tiny intricate shapes, as well as a superhuman ability to clutch. Secondly, superior hand-eye coordination is critical. All crafters must excel at precise high-velocity hand movements not unlike the jaws of a snapping turtle or a lizard's tongue, if that lizard could decoupage with the same agility he uses to catch flies. Thirdly, it's important for all crafters to possess an inhuman tolerance for highly toxic chemicals. So, as you can see, crafting is an equal opportunity pastime; all are welcome as long as you fit the profile.
MOST POPULAR CRAFTS
1. Tuna Can Lid Baby's Sleep Chime
2. Mr. Wiggly Worm
3. Macramé Pinch Pots
4. Crab Claw Roach Clip
5. Toilet Paper Roll Pirate
6. Seaweed Lampshade
7. Googly-eyed Clamshells
WHO IN THE WORLD IS CRAFTING?
More than 8 out of 10 households have at least 4 out of 5 family members engaging in 2 out of 3 crafts 78% of the time. A staggering 98% of this group are homosexual men.
HOW ARE WE USING OUR CRAFTS?
1. Camper decorations
2. Old people presents
3. Chew toy
4. Dust accumulator
5. As evidence that we don't spend all our time doing absolutely nothing.
6. Salvaged for parts to make other crafts
IDEAS: WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Crafting is putting ideas into action and then holding them together with an inexpensive adhesive. But where do the ideas come from? Is it okay to wonder? Usually, the best ideas come from other people's good ideas, which then, after a short gestation period, become your ideas. But what if your friends are out of ideas? In that horrifying scenario you will be forced to think up your own ideas. It has been said that the more you use your imagination the more it will grow. Of course, that is much easier to say than to prove scientifically. I am often asked why I never run out of ideas and I always reply; "Do you think I'm pretty?" I may never know the answer to that question, but here are some things I do know: animals love snacks; clams don't have heads; never remove your own braces; and everything I see and hear gives me inspiration. Some people might walk by an old piece of furniture resting on the curb waiting for the trash men to haul away and all they see is a beat-up sofa. Do you know what I see? A couch, a place to sit or lounge, something to put cushions on, a settee, a couch, something that would go inside a living room. Imagination! My problem is that I have so many ideas, I never have enough time to use them all. Just the other day I thought up eleven things I could do with a flowerpot. Eleven! Three of those things didn't even involve plants. Imagination! Remember when the Cowardly Lion makes his crown out of a clay pot? That's one for me! Now it's your turn! Exercise your imagination muscle! How many uses can you come up with for a flowerpot? Write down your answers. But don't write them in this book. Grab a separate sheet of paper. I didn't spend two and a half weeks writing a book just so you could mark up the pages with your silly ideas for things you can do with a flowerpot. When it comes down to it, what's wrong with a flowerpot just being a flowerpot? Why is nothing ever good enough for you?!
There are hundreds of dozens of ways to stimulate your brain so that the creative juices flow. Rummage through a Dumpster. Look at old album covers. Spend time at a Renaissance fair. Find new friends who have better ideas than your old friends. Explore garage sales and swap meets. Go crabbing! Buy fruit and let it get old. What shapes does it turn into? What kind of bugs does it attract? If you have a notebook and pencil, head over to the shopping mall. Record the items that are on display. Think about how you might alter them. What would glitter look like in that fish tank? How would shells look glued to that toilet seat? Let your mind wander, awash in possibilities. Imagine that luggage covered in beads! What items attract your attention? What things do you find appealing? Once your mind is stimulated you might feel you are ready to begin crafting but not so fast. Where are you going to craft?
CREATING A CRAFT ROOM
Having an attractively organized craft room increases efficiency and quality in your crafting. You will find that not only is a well-ordered workroom a pleasure to craft in, but it is also a magnet for young children. What with the myriad colors and sparkly objects on display, don't be surprised if a child wants to spend all day in there, which is unfortunate, because a craft room is the most dangerous room in the house! Even the most experienced crafters are often overtaken by fumes or fall victim to any number of objects that can slice, prick, or adhere.
MOST COMMON CRAFTING ACCIDENTS
1. Sawdust fires
2. Pinecone lodged in throat
3. Decoupage fatigue blackout
4. Dried flower fungal infections
5. Seed sensitivity
6. Hanged from a yarn noose
7. Feather asphyxia
8. Vaginal bleeding
When creating your craft room, the most important consideration is good ventilation. It's a shame that the most attractive crafts almost always raise the most hazardous dust or emit toxic fumes while being constructed. Anyone breathing this air, or being breathed on by someone who has been breathing this air, risks serious injury to his or her, but mostly her, health. What is meant by "ventilation"? Do you have a window in your workroom? If so, can you open it? Will it stay open by itself, or do you need to wedge a soup can in the opening? Do you get a cross breeze? Even with an open door and an operable window, this may not be adequate ventilation. Make a quick analysis of the room. Do you need all these walls? If so, how would one wall look with a three-by-four-foot hole torn in it?
Easy accessibility to materials is also key when putting together a craft room. All the items you need should be within reach. Do you have easy access to the scissors and the thread? Are the buttons at arm's length? How about the fire extinguisher and the respirator mask?
Nothing ruins a lazy afternoon of crafting quite like being struck by a cottonmouth snake. Be sure to line the baseboards of your craft room with professional grade snake snares.
Stocking your craft room with a variety of supplies is important for a fulfilling crafting experience. It is always helpful to have the right tool for the right job. For example, one might be attempting to adhere a fuzzy doodad to a frilly whatsit or a ruffled gewgaw to a tasseled thingy. Using the incorrect glue in this situation can have tragic consequences. You will want to have a wide assortment of glues to choose from. But which is the correct glue to use in what situation?
SIMPLE GLUE GUIDE
Use Tacky with Furry, Gummy with Gritty, Paste with Prickly, and always Gloppy with Sandy. When working with Silky go Sticky, Smooth with Treacly and for everything else use a heavy-duty, industrial-strength epoxy.
Putting materials in either clear glass or well-labeled storage jars is a helpful idea. With just a glance you can immediately identify your materials so that the next time you need a pixie straw, you will not inadvertently reach up for the can of utility knives, causing a lifelong facial disfiguration that haunts your crafting circle for years to come.
I personally find that having a bulky rug in a craft room is a mistake. It will become a haven for dropped pins, needles, and blades, turning the once comforting deep pile into a Viet Cong- style booby trap.
To sum up, when designing your craft room, plan an organized, well-ventilated area properly outfitted to protect from poisonous snake attacks.
CRAFTING FOR PROFIT OR TURNING YOUR POMPON RINGWORM INTO A CASH COW
Crafting for joy is its own reward, but unfortunately not a reward that pays the bills. It is only natural to behave as if your hobby is solely an act of passion, but on a deeper level, secretly hope that you could attain real power from it. This is also true for those who practice martial arts or act in community theater productions. If you want to create a craft that is a guaranteed moneymaker, here are a couple of simple, surefire ways to achieve it:
1. Make something that doesn't exist and nobody has ever thought of or even dared to dream about. An object so exceptional that it cannot be described by words because there is nothing of this earth to compare it to.
2. Start a fad or a trend. Create a craft item that immediately causes, on at least six of the seven continents, an unchecked fanaticism, especially connecting with the youth crowd.
But even if your ambitions are more moderate, there are a few simple characteristics your crafty handiworks should possess in order for them to create a subtle profit margin:
A. Suggestion of Durability
Does your project appear to the untrained eye to be of high quality? Will your project hold together on the shelf until it sells? Will it withstand the rigors of the shopper's scrutiny? Can it be bagged by an apathetic teenager with long curly fingernails or an ex-convict on work release without coming apart? Remember, when you are applying the coffee bean to the pumpkin seed to the gourd, are you using enough glue for it to sustain the bumpy ride in the cart through the parking lot on its way to the trunk?
Does your project have that certain special something? What makes baby chicks and bunnies so adorable? Is it a magical quality? No. These adorable elements can be quantified and, more importantly, reproduced into a craft that can then be put up for sale.
Let's break down the elements:
1. Convenient size: Chicks and bunnies are small enough to fit in your pocket or underpants drawer. People enjoy small things because they make them feel powerful and in control. It feels good to understand that in terms of the bunnies stuffed into your jeans, you are judge, jury, and executioner.
2. Texture: Chicks and bunnies are soft and furry, and people generally like soft, warm, and furry things. That is another reason it is so tempting to stuff them in your pockets.
3. Eyes: Humans are drawn to eyes. We find comfort there. Traditionally we don't have warm feelings for things that can't look back at us. When was the last time you cared for a rock or a log? Nobody has a special relationship with a stop sign, but stick a couple of eyes on it and suddenly it's a pleasure to yield. Peanut shells are often thought of as the barrier to the tasty nutmeat, and are commonly discarded. But once you can look that peanut shell in the eye, you will quickly realize you've found a nutty new friend: Hello Sheldon, welcome to our home.
C. Usefulness: Don't worry about this one.
Doing what we love should be motivation enough for doing it, but there is nothing wrong with trying to make a fast buck off something that takes so little time and effort to achieve.
Copyright 2010 Amy Sedaris All rights reserved.