Saturday, November 09, 2013


So this is what my kitchen table looks like as I'm typing--a papier-mache rhino head drying out its first coat of paint, and a sunburst mirror behind it, also drying in its clamps.  I put away my sewing machine earlier after I used it to make a pair of curtains for my living room, which I hung up on rods that I also made (and Neil hung).

I walked around my house a few minutes ago and counted 42 unique decor projects that I have completed since Nathan was born.  I didn't include painting the kitchen cabinets, walls, and trim, the bathroom walls, cabinets, and trim, the living room and foyer walls and trim, the hall, etc.  You get the idea.

Point is, I've been on a project whirlwind lately.

I was grading papers earlier this week and one of my student groups had written a paper about psychological disorders.  After discussing talk therapy and medication, they started writing about the research that's been done on alternative art therapy, and how it's very effective for some people.  It was a lightbulb moment for me.

I don't think I've managed to work through any deep-seated psychological issues while I've been painting  and drawing and sewing and dipping my hands into papier-mache.  But I do know that it has been incredibly calming for me.  Embroidering silver flowers onto a blue velvet pillow, positioning paste-soaked newspaper strips, sketching my children's favorite book characters...this is what, in large part, has gotten me through the summer and fall.  It's given me something to look forward to, it's made the days different from one another, and it's given me something that at the end of the day stays permanently done.

When I was younger I sort of had a prejudice against crafts--for some reason I pictured it as women who weren't very smart or talented and sat around painting kitschy wooden figurines--I suppose my thought was that you would only do crafts if you couldn't do anything else.  My mom tended to spend more of her creative energies gardening or cooking (at least this is how I remember things...she may differ on this!  I do remember that she valiantly sewed my first formal dress, something which I appreciated WAY more once I started sewing myself!).  I did do some cross-stitching and I made a few projects in school, but basically I was a terrible artist and always viewed "making stuff" as something that I couldn't do well.

I still don't think I'm the most talented artist in the world, but I really, really, really enjoy it.  I love making things.  I love creating something beautiful(ish) out of a bunch of random materials that I glean from around my house.  I love changing the way my home looks or a room feels with simple additions.  And I love spending time creating things with my children.  Isaac and I spent a happy afternoon building the frame for that rhino, and he was so delighted.  Jules asked me to teach her to knit last year, and we spent many happy interludes snuggled up together trying to figure out what we were doing! Abigail has sewn stuffed animals for all her siblings, and she has a real knack for hand embroidery that is so fun to see. And Luke and Isaac, of course, are my permanent table-top audience as I'm sewing.  Isaac's preschool teacher mentioned to me the other day that he is an incredibly talented artist, and I was so thrilled because I felt like I was helping him to develop that facet of his own personality.

I waited so long to join Pinterest because I worried  that it would make me spend even more time online when I was already trying to cut back.  When Nathan was born, I began allowing myself to look at Pinterest only when I was nursing, and it has been so fun to see the wealth of creative ideas and beautiful handiwork that people around the world are creating.  Even if I worry that my house looks like a Pinterest Fail.  :-)

I don't really know where this post is going--I suppose I just wanted to say that I love making things.  And I resonate so much with this:


Mary Beth said...

Ok, that rhino is turning out AMAZING. I hope you and Isaac are proud.

And I'm glad you've found a creative outlet and a hobby that lets you look with pride at your successes. You are amazingly artistic and I'm so impressed by all you're doing!

Jen said...

1) I immediately thought of that talk from President Uchtdorf as I read this. One of my favorites for sure.

2) I'm so glad you're finding joy in making things. I often forget how satisfying it is, so thank you for the reminder.

Related Posts with Thumbnails