“Oh, I’m not very creative,” is the complaint of many individuals when approached about starting up a craft. The truth is that everyone is creative. Some of us just got the notion in third grade that since we weren’t the best artist in the class that we weren’t “the creative type.” The Creative Type: a mysterious individual with messy hair and outrageous attire who frequents museums and the theatre and mutters tirelessly to him/ herself when in public. As legendary as Santa Claus—and just as fictional. Real creativity manifests itself in a myriad of different ways. Creativity is that urge that makes you want to move the furniture around, for the third time this week. Creativity is the calm that comes over you as you chop vegetables for tonight’s dinner. Creativity is the tickle of excitement you get when you find a new scenic route to work. As humans, we have a basic need to express ourselves, and how we express ourselves is creativity.
A Short History of Crafts
Crafting has gone in and out of fashion over the last few decades. In the 1940s crafting was done out of necessity. Because of WWII, making do and using up what you had was a respected form of patriotism. Middle class women made quilts from their family’s old clothes, and their children used catalogues or ads to make paper valentines or Christmas cards. Worn out sheets were made into pillowcases, then into handkerchiefs, and eventually used as rags. There were not the malls open in the evening as there are today, nor were there the myriad forms of entertainment to be had, so people stayed home and worked needlecraft or baked.
This mentality continued throughout the forties and fifties, but as the war generation aged crafting changed. Crafts were something you made in your leisure time. Since crafting was traditionally a women’s activity, it was tied to domesticity and subordination. As the women’s liberation movement entered the scene, crafting was looked down on as anti-progressive. Mass produced clothing and other articles made sewing virtually obsolete.
Today is a new movement, present even among the very educated, wealthy, and politically progressive. Betsy Greer coined the term craftivism, a call to shrug off the plague of mass produced goods available, in turn for an appreciation of all things unique and handmade.
Many still ask why, when it is cheaper, faster, and more convenient to pick up this or that dust catcher at your neighborhood Wal-Mart, why would anyone pick up a needle? The answer is manifold.
Some craft because the activity creates satisfaction and gratification in a way that few other forms of entertainment today do. They enjoy both the process of creating as well as the finished product. There is a certain amount of pride and confidence felt when using something made with one’s own hands—whether it is a bookshelf or a crocheted dishcloth. And then there are the crafters who do what they do for no other reason than that crafts are fun.
Perhaps others craft for their health—although they may not realize it. Crafting has a very positive impact on one’s mental health, as it engages the mind in creative and imaginative problem solving, as well as the hands. Psychologists and therapists have taken note, and many nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals offer craft classes as a potent form of recreational therapy.
Crafting has also created its own community, which is a huge draw in our isolated society. Whether you scrapbook or throw pots, there is likely an association in your city where you can join with other like-minded individuals to craft regularly. This feeling of community extends even within one’s own family. Many parents now schedule a regular arts and crafts time with their children. This is time well spent—crafting with children builds important practical skills as well as interpersonal bonds.
Emma Snow is a creator at for Ornament Shop http://www.ornament-shop.net and Craft Kits http://www.craft-kits.net leading portals for crafts and ornaments.