Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm Crafty!

I'd love to explore artistic expression, but I'm too cheap to buy the supplies required for such an obsession. Frugality aside, I do not consider myself particularly creative or even artistic. On top of that, I don't have a point of view that I just have to show the world. Even so, on occasion I can craft when given careful guidance and inspiration.

The Mollyanna Bowl
Some people, like my friend Anna, don't wait for "someday" to do something that strikes their fancy. I discovered this the pleasant way while lingering at her home. We were perusing books on how to use recycled objects to make crafts with your kids. We agreed that the majority of the materials used in one book in particular were not recycled nor even recyclable. This is a bit of a sticking point since I'm not sure I'd want to keep or give away some of the crap, uh, crafts. I don't like the idea of craft for craft's sake because then you wind up with a bunch of JUNK and a house that smells like an old lady's (that last part is purely conjecture on my part).

We did come across a braided rug technique used to make coasters. It seemed like something we might try this summer with the kids. Unfortunately, Anna had just given away her scraps to the best second grade teacher ever, Molly. We came up with the idea of using plarn (yarn made of plastic shopping bags). As I was still pondering, I realized Anna had already left the room, gathered supplies, and was cutting up shopping bags in strips. Plarn, we agreed, would make for a terrible coaster. We made bowls. This is my Mollyanna bowl full of CSA apricots.

I learned several things on this project.
* Plastic is a pisser to sew.
* Use clear thread and a thimble.
* Don't prejudge the outcome.
* It's okay to waste time like this. It has a name: experimentation.

The Art Teacher Utility Apron
Anna (again with the ANNA!) bought a bunch of oil cloth for use as a table cloth for her youngest child's birthday. I've been looking at this material for some time. It's colorful and functional and fantastic! Here Anna was buying it so casually and comfortably. Actually, what she bought was vinyl with a meshy backing, which is commonly called oilcloth though technically it's not. Later, I saw a utility apron my friend betts* made for an auction at the school (a mix of traditional and contemporary oilcloth she bought in Mexico). Then betts* announced plans to make another apron for Molly while Anna was securing a Vy and Elle bag. Suddenly, I'm all about aprons and working with oilcloth or vinyl.


One day while sealing tiles for the Borton Environmental Learning Lab's human sundial, the art teacher talked about how she identified with my son. She mentioned that she found it hard to take risks and get out of her comfort zone, but that she decided to do that this year with clay. Her clay work, well, I can't express my thoughts on what she and the children did. It was moving to say the least. Plus, that she "saw" my kid out of hundreds and cared about his well-being - again, I can't express my thoughts on that. After talking with her, I decided to take a risk and get out of my comfort zone. With the expert help of my pal betts* who made sure I didn't sew the multiple pockets upside down, inside out, and backwards, I sewed this "oilcloth" utility apron for the art teacher. Isn't it lovely? It took five hours minus buying time, but including the time it took to go home and get the foot pedal I'd left behind.

On this project, I learned:
* Make sure your foot pedal is stored with your sewing machine.
* Pay attention to the instructions, even when instinct tells you something else.
* Listen to betts* when she tells you three times, "don't do that!" before she begs "please don't do that." What she means is, "your pocket may be right side up, but your seams will show."
* I can top stitch!
* Slow and steady wins the race.
* Perfection isn't a requirement.

Father's Day Basket
Thanks to my mother-in-law I have cable (and high speed internet). One of our channels features networks that we don't get in order to entice us to upgrade. I've never been thusly tempted, however, I was temporarily sidetracked from reality shows and Fox News by DIY. I rushed to the computer to look up their projects. Father's Day was at hand and the kids wanted to make something for their dad. The DIY website provided several possibilities.


We made this basket out of old grocery sacks. You have to see it live on his mail table to fully appreciate it's beauty. It looks great and when he's tired of it, it's totally recyclable. Our plan was to paint it, but as it was this took us three days.

I learned much with this project too.
* You need more than three days to weave and paint a basket with your kids.
* Rotary cutters make quick strips.
* It's okay to BUY Dad a gift.

My future crafting goals are to make oilcloth lunch bags for my kids, sewing a shirt, and learning pottery from Mechelle and Anna. I'm giving myself years as a deadline for achieving any part of this as I still have an eight year quilt in the closet, a latch hook rug, and a cross stitch pillow turning to dust in the hall closet.

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