Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why I create

So about a week ago, I found a new to me blogger, and she wrote a post that got me thinking - why DO I create? She's hosting a link up thing, and I flipped through several of my recent posts, thinking that I have to have addressed this, but I really haven't! So here it is - get ready for a potentially disorganized pile of thoughts.

So why do I make things? A very short version is probably that I've always been a creative sort, and I like having meaningful things.

For the longer version, well here we go. I can't remember a time when I WASN'T making something. I have this memory of when I was probably about 6 years old, trying to make my Barbies clothes on a little knitting loom. If memory serves, I believe it was this one:

I don't remember if I ever finished that beautiful sparkly ball gown, but I remember enjoying the knitting. Though come to think of it, I'm not sure I even knew that it really WAS knitting, since it's not on needles like you imagine, but I thought it was pretty cool. I may have also had a sweatshirt like the one pictured on the box, so maybe my opinion of "cool" is somewhat suspect. What can I say, it was the 80's. We rented the lower apartment of a duplex for a few years when I was little, and our upstairs neighbor was an occupational therapist for kids, and I remember that she had an entire ROOM full of craft supplies. Even now, on the cusp of getting my own craft space, that seemed like such a luxury! I definitely remember making one of those puffy paint applique sweatshirts at her house!

While my neighbor was definitely a crafty influence in my life, of course the larger influence were my parents. My mom taught me to sew in high school, and tried teaching me to knit then as well. Knitting wasn't something she did frequently, so I'm not sure where I got the desire to learn. In any case, I think I sort of learned the basic stitches, but it didn't really stick. A few years later, I decided to take up yarn again, but decided to crochet, as one stick seemed easier to manage than two. I didn't know anyone who could teach me, so I taught myself from books, and everyone got an itchy acrylic scarf for Christmas that year! A few years after that I decided to try knitting again, and thankfully YouTube had come around by then. It was so much easier to watch a video than to decipher those drawings in books! While my dad isn't much for sewing (though he CAN patch all the clothes my mom would rather he toss!), he has done a lot of creating himself. My parents still have a dresser and a few other furniture pieces he's made - things I didn't even know were handmade until years later. I helped him a little with building a deck at one house, and he built a pool house himself at another. Truth be told, it was supposed to be a shed for the heater, but it ended up having a bathroom, bar and a loft. I'm not sure if this was an expression of creativity....or a good reason to get out of a house with three teenage girls.....

My mom always made our Halloween costumes herself. I'm not sure I can remember wearing anything storebought....well ever, actually. (I take that back - I did buy a Dorothy costume when I was working at a daycare in college because I didn't have a place for my sewing machine at the time.) While I do remember a few rather stressful fittings on October 29th or 30th, I always loved that she made our outfits. They were totally different than anything anyone else had, and we could be anything we wanted. I mean...one year (possibly several) I was a purple unicorn with a pink mane and tail. You just don't find that at Target. A lot of kids probably had similar experiences, as I'm not sure pre-made costumes were SUPER common 20-30 years ago, like they are now. But for me, it really resonated. When you take the time to make it yourself, you get something totally unique, just for you, and made with love (and maybe some swear words and tears, but it's all part of the process). I'm absolutely thrilled to carry on the tradition of handmade Halloween costumes.

I love that I can have things in my home that are totally unique and made with my own hands.  It makes me really proud when people ask where I got that, and I get to say, oh that? Yeah, I made that.

(The chair....not the dog....obviously)

While just buying something to suit my needs is OBVIOUSLY much faster and more convenient, I love the rhythm of the making. It's fun to remember the time in my life when I made that thing. For example, that chair came to be reupholstered over a full month in the winter time and I found myself indulging in many hours of the Kardashians. (Canceling out something productive with something decidedly not?) Or the years before we insulated our house, and my feet were cold, which resulted in these:

Or the polar vortex of last winter, which had me gravitating toward the warmest, fastest things I could think of!

Making things is so a part of my core identity that it's even what I do for a living. (While my Etsy shop is a lovely hobby, it's not my day to day!) As is probably somewhat obvious, I loved my art classes as a child. I never had an opportunity to tell her, and I suspect she's passed by now, but my decision to become an architect all goes back to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Waldenberger. I believe it was part of a parent-teacher conference, and she commented to my parents that I was good at art, and something to the effect that you can't make much of a career as an artist, so I should be an architect. Done. Isn't it crazy, how something like that can shape your ENTIRE life? While it was never my path to be one, teachers really can make such an impact on young lives, and I was so lucky to have so many good ones. After that, I was the token girl (sometimes there were two....even three of us!) in the drafting classes in high school, and I went right on to a four year degree in architecture, followed up with a two year masters program, without even so much as a waver. It feels sort of destined. I shape space during the day, and I turn bits of string and cloth into useful, beautiful things at night. I write here, continuing a long history of hidden diaries as a child, and giving a bit of life to that fantasy of being Carrie Bradshaw, typing out stories at a coffee shop. I create because that's what I know. While I've sometimes envied the money that comes along with the finance or medical careers of some of my friends, I've never regretted my choice to land on the creative side of life. Yes, more money would always be nice, but I find that I'm pretty satisfied most days with how I've spent my time. And I suppose that's a pretty good reason to create.


  1. Loved reading this! I also enjoy telling people I made something - it is satisfying, no? And that glittery Barbie kit is too much!

    1. It took me a few days to find the right kit! Apparently it wasn't the most popular one. I can't imagine why!