vague thoughts about making stuff

Praire Poppins had just an inspiring post up yesterday with lists of ideas for handmade gifts for the holidays. I love reading her blog and often wish I could be that relaxed about making things on a regular basis. I’m still in a mode where I feel like that is a “hobby” for my “spare time”. This is nuts, I know. But I’m working on it slowly.

Charlie also had a good post up about the nature of creativity the other day.  He’s addressing a different audience but I think his stages of the creative process make a lot of sense. And they really help those of us who struggle with the “I’m not creative” issue to see what it really looks like and how to nurture it. And yes, I struggle with that, too. I have long thought that I wasn’t creative. Quilting and knitting have really brought me a long way with the creativity but it still feels quite dangerous when I step outside certain frameworks. Designing quilts felt safe because I didn’t have to draw anything but straight sided geometric figures. I’m good at math. I can do that. And I think that gave me the confidence to play with colours and things.

Anyway, the following have been incubating for various lengths of time. Some I just need to go and put into action. Others I need some help with because I don’t actually know what to do next.

Make canvas tote bags. This needs action. Many years ago I did a textile arts class (which is where I met Emily, I think) and I have some heavy canvas that I screen printed for dining room chair seat covers in the basement. Those chairs are long gone and the colours aren’t going to go with my kitchen but I bet they would make good shopping bags.

Make cards with some of my photographs. Yeah, that sounds funny doesn’t it. Me and photographs. But I do have some I took quite a while ago that are interesting close-ups of nature — ice formations, tree bark, etc. I’ve messed around with them a bit in iPhoto and I really like them and they look good printed out. I’ve done a couple of one-off cards but the problem is the size of paper.  This one needs help. Is is possible to get square cards made with digital photos for a reasonable price? And how? Or can you buy supplies and print them (probably not ideal)? I don’t even know what to ask at a printers to get a decent price. Some look best cropped square but there are others that would be best as rectangles. I’ve even wondered about the viability of printing enough to sell.

When I go down to the basement to find that canvas I suspect I will also find any number of other bits of batik, screen printing and whatnot from that class (we did it for several terms; it was fun). I should really think of something to do with that stuff, too. That will really need some incubation though. I think I’ve always worried they wouldn’t wash well but I have used a couple of the batik pieces either as patches for Freya’s pants (when she was smaller) or as coasters and they seem to hold up just fine. So maybe some creative appliqué is in order.

I also know that there is an only-just-started baby quilt in a basket somewhere (the baby it was originally intended for is now 2.5 years old). Also a Mariners Compass quilt square (probably cushion sized, but I’m not sure) that I started before I  moved to Canada (so that would be 2002).

And I must knit baby hats. Friends are having babies in December. And toddler hats. That 2.5 year old likes my hats.

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7 thoughts on “vague thoughts about making stuff

  1. Yup, that was where we met. And I found it a very freeing experience, in terms of being able to recognise myself as creative (something I struggle with, too).
    In fact, Lisa (aka Horrible Lisa) was also very good at that – she was an Artist in my mind, a Graphic Designer – but she said: No, you are the artist at the moment because YOU are making things and I am not. Quite good, I thought.

    I too have a pile of heavy canvas that I screen-printed (in orange and green). Shall have to think of something to do with it when I get home! I’d be interested to see your photos. We got cards printed through Flickr by Mooch; they were based in the UK, but I am CERTAIN there must be some North American versions. Having said that, I think you can get stuff printed in camera shops and some big box places, at different sizes and on different stock. Good luck!

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  2. I print out a lot of my garden pictures, and then glue them onto that card stock Michaels sells in 50 sheet packs. Yes, you do have to crop the paper, which can be tedious if you’re making a lot of them, but I only do this for birthday cards and thank-you cards.I’m wondering though if my printer churns out prints that will last as long as something from a professional printer.

    By the way, thanks for the tip on roasting the tomatoes. Don’t know why it never occurred to me, because I too think that one can never have too much olive oil. I puréed it after roasting and OMG it was so good we spooned it over everything: risotto, toast, fingers. It was like warm tomato aioli.

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  3. Andrea applies her making stuff gene to making practical things that we will use regularly (like the cloth shopping bags) which helps her get to the craft room. Once there though and sees all of her other materials she sometimes finishes the *practical* thing and moves on to things which are more about being creative and less about practical.

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  4. I wish I could be that way as well. Let me know when you figure out the trick! When I do it, I have ot block out a weekend and craft like a banshee, and it certainly loses a great deal of the relaxing, pleasurable feel I ideally would wish for handmade gifts.

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  5. I appreciate the link and the recognition that it resonated with you. I wonder, though, about the audience I’m addressing: I find it interesting that you don’t include yourself in the broad category of “creative people” or “creatives”. Then again, sometimes I don’t include myself in that same category, but I think that points to how we conflate “art” and “creativity”.

    Sure, writers, designers, entrepreneurs, and musicians may clearly be creatives, but so are scientists, quilters, and knitters. Or, as Merlin Mann would say, it has nothing to do with wearing a black beret and everything to do with channeling the creative process into tangible stuff.

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