Podcast Episode 13 – Why We Craft

The Craft Room Podcast Episode 13, Why We Craft

Hello … welcome to The Craft Room Podcast, and if this is your first time listening, a special welcome to you. A few weeks ago I attended The Artful Business Conference in Adelaide here in Australia.  I love this conference … it is for people with creative businesses, and at any given time you can be sitting next to a writer, a jewellery maker, a yoga instructor, an accountant, a business coach, a graphic designer, a bridal accessory designer, a virtual assistant … it’s just amazing! While I was there, surrounded by so many incredibly creative people, I thought I’d ask a few of them three simple questions. I had an idea of how this episode would go, but the answers that these incredible women gave me were not at all what I was expecting.  In hindsight, I don’t know why I was expecting run-of-the-mill answers … I should know by now that creative people are going to give me creative answers.  They did not disappoint … they actually knocked me back on my heels, and this episode is going to be different, and so much deeper than I had intended!

Craft is seen to be this frivolous thing that women do, faffing about with fabric, yarn and thread.  But that’s far from true. First of all, craft is not exclusively for women, and what crafters do is so much more than making pretty things to pass the time. Absolutely we make tangible things.  We can give them as gifts, use them to keep warm, decorate our homes, sell them for some extra cash … and those are all fine reasons to engage in crafting activities.  But the real reason we craft goes so much deeper than that.

Today I want to introduce you to five wonderful ladies who were feeling game enough to answer my three quick questions.  You’ll hear me ask each of them …
1. What’s your day job?
2. What is your craft / creative pursuit of choice?
3. What do you get from this?
Some of them I have known for a few years, some for a few months, others I just met. Some are older than me, some younger, some about the same. Some enjoy the same crafts as me, others are into things that aren’t quite my scene, or that are still on my to-do list. All of them are amazing at what they do professionally, and having seen some of their work in person, it’s not surprising that they are great at what they do creatively as well.

There will be a little bit of background noise … it’s always buzzing with conversations during break times. I can honestly say that it was worth sacrificing my afternoon cup of tea to chat briefly to these wonderful ladies, and after each mini interview I’ll go deeper into my takeaways from these conversations.

Miranda
1. What is your day job?
I work in social media and marketing

2. What is your craft / creative pursuit of choice?
I do crochet, weaving and mixed media.

3. What do you get from this?
I’ve always been crafty, but especially in last couple of years it helps with my mental health.  It’s my relaxing time, and it’s just fun.  But it’s a creative way that when people look at you and think you’re one thing, and then you show them a quilt you’ve made or a crochet blanket, and they look at you differently … like OMG!  I like putting colours together.

Summary
I absolutely loved Miranda’s answer.  Yes … science is catching up and starting to prove that craft and creativity is excellent for our mental health.  We did talk about that in episode 8, which I’ll link to in the show notes. Sometimes we can cruise along and just craft to keep our hands busy, to create a quick gift, or try something new. But sometimes our creative pursuits do more than just keep us occupied … they can seriously support our mental health. It may be that we work diligently on a project to pass the time whilst under stress or going through an unpleasant life event.  It can help pass time quickly and serve as a great distraction to stop us obsessing over waiting for test results, to stop our mind wandering to dark thoughts or inject something beautiful into our lives when things may otherwise be bleak.  I understand what she means about people looking at you differently.  I used to work in a very corporate type job, and when my co-workers would catch me cross-stitching on the train, or would compliment me on my outfit and I would tell them that I made it … it absolutely changed the way they looked at me.  It helped them get to know me, see there was more to me than a great voice on the phone and fast typing fingers. You think you have a person pegged, you think you know what they’re like, then you find out they knit jumpers for penguins … whoah … your mind is blown! You question yourself … do I really know them at all?  Have I made assumptions? What else do they do that I don’t know about? It sparks conversations and deeper connections with people. And I’m not going to gloss over Miranda’s joy of putting colours together.  This is one of the most wonderful things about craft … colour.  It’s not just choosing colours, but considering the mood that they convey, the reactions that people will have to them, how they will suit an individual, and how the light will play off them at different times of day and in different seasons. There’s an element of challenge to colour choices, and absolutely it’s the colours that make craft fun.

If you are looking for Miranda in her day job, you can FIND HER HERE.

Ashleigh
1. What’s your day job?
I am a VA and podcast manager

2. What is your craft / creative pursuit of choice?
I’m a doodler.

3. What do you get from this?
I’m a massive scatterbrain, and it helps me focus on everything and anything. It unleashes some creativity. It fills me up … a little spillage over of the cup.

Summary
I think my favourite thing that Ashleigh mentioned was that her favourite creative pastime fills her cup.  Wow … that is something we sometimes forget about.  We are so busy giving and giving to others, that we forget that we need to fill that cup!  I know that self-care is a buzz-phrase, but I don’t care … because it’s important. There is a saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup … in other words, you can’t help others when you’re running on empty.  Sure, sometimes others can fill your cup, but a lot of the time we need to remember to refill that things ourselves, because we know better than anyone what is going to do the job best. When you give and give and give, and don’t refill, that leads to burnout, and when you’re in burnout, that isn’t just an empty cup, you’re at risk of getting a crack in it.  Trust me … I know … I’ve experienced that bone dry burnout, and there is a lot more effort required to bounce back from that, because you need to repair the crack before you can refill the cup and be able to give again.  Best to find that thing which fills your cup and enjoy it regularly so you don’t burn out. I also know quite a few people who draw to help with focus. Doodling is one of those things I’m terrible at, and it does nothing for me … but that’s me.  I do other things to focus, which is why I say this to you … it’s not what you do, but what it does for you that is important.  A lot of times we think we have to become an expert at our craft or hobby, so we can make it into a job or a business, but that’s not necessarily true.  Sometimes we just need to be creative to fill a need, not make a buck.

If you’re looking for Ashleigh in her day job, you can FIND HER HERE

Doone
1. What’s your day job?
I’m a bookkeeper.

2. What is your craft / creative pursuit of choice?
I knit, crochet and sew, but I’m also a printmaker and a book-maker / bookbinder.

3. What do you get from this?
Being physically present.  I recently realised that I’m ADHD, and sitting, unless I’m really in the flow with bookkeeping, if I’m watching something or taking in new information, it’s not enough to keep my brain occupied. So, I need to be doing something physical to stay here, to not be off with the fairies.

Summary
I saw one of Doone’s gorgeous hand-bound books at Artful BizCon, and it was absolutely gorgeous! I have to admit, it’s not something I ever thought I would try, but seeing the gorgeous stitching and the beautiful papers she used, it’s now on my list. Again, here we have an instance of creativity and the act of using your hands to create something beautiful and practical that is giving more than that to the maker.  It’s no coincidence that many crafters are known to work in front of a movie, or whilst chatting with family or friends. For some it’s hard to sit still and let your hands be idle, for others it’s non-optional, and with ADHD it can absolutely help you focus on the task at hand, even if to the casual observer it looks like you aren’t paying attention. I’ve often said that crochet and cross-stitch are like meditation to me … the rhythm, the repetition. I can totally understand how these qualities assist those with ADD and ADHD to focus and be present.

If you are looking for Doone in her day job, you can FIND HER HERE

Shilpa
1. What’s your day job?
I’m a book writing and marketing mentor for coaches, consultants and experts who want to put their message out there.

2. What is your craft / creative pursuit of choice?
I really enjoy quilling, and punching (paper crafts). There’s a lot of beautiful stonework with acrylic sheets and making beautiful patterns.

3. What do you get from this?
I haven’t been able to decide, I’m a shiny object kind of person, and I can’t just be content with one craft.  I have need of a lot of colour in my life, and a lot of variety, so that’s how I’m meeting the need … through lots of craft.

Summary
As I was talking to Shilpa I could see some beautiful jewellery that she had made, and I cannot go without saying that her chai tea is absolutely amazing! I have been forever spoiled after tasting the real deal. Shilpa and I have a lot in common … a need for colour and variety, and craft is such a wonderful place to meet that need.  There is always a new craft to try, and a new challenge to conquer. Sure, some people pick up one craft and stick with it forever or at least for a very long time. I am not one of those people, and I am obviously not alone.  Years ago I read a wonderful book by the author Barbara Sher called ‘Refuse to Choose’, subtitled ‘What do I do when I want to do everything?’ If you are like myself and Shilpa … craving variety and not sure what to settle on, this book is an excellent read.  I knew I wasn’t a specialist, and I found myself in this book. I also meet my need for variety and challenge and colour through craft. I will link to the book in the show notes for my fellow crafty bowerbirds.

If you are looking for Shilpa in her day job, you can FIND HER HERE.

Kate
1. What’s your day job?
I’m a writing entrepreneur. All things to do with writing, selling courses, teaching, etc.

2. What is your craft / creative pursuit of choice?
At the moment it’s mosaic. I’ve always liked mosaic and I make them at home. I make little signs and little flower pots and art for the garden.

3. What do you get from this?
I’m quite a right brained person, but my old craft of choice was crafting words, but now that’s become my day job.  I like that my brain has slipped sideways and it’s not intellectual, it’s purely visual, and I’m doing something with my hands. I find that really relaxing. It destresses me.

Summary
Crafting as an escape from your day job, to slip out of your logical, analytical, sensible mind and slip into something more fun as you play with colour and texture … it’s yin and yang really. Kate is incredibly creative with words … far more emotive and descriptive than I could ever hope to be … seriously, I would read her shopping list for fun, and her Instagram posts are often a highlight of my day.  She raises a valid point here, and I almost blinked and missed it.  When your hobby becomes your job … you need to find a new hobby. I’ve head that said many times, and there’s a reason it’s repeated … why I’m repeating it now … because it’s true!  If you write stories or poetry or lark about with words for fun, there’s a lot of joy and escape in that.  But when it becomes your day job, writing clever words for clients, and to promote your own business, it might still be joyful, but it’s also work … and traditionally we do need an escape from work.  The saying ‘Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’ … I feel like it’s kind of misleading.  I absolutely love what I do, but in those moments when you need to meet deadlines, and you find yourself embroidering your 3,487th backstitch in a verigated yarn unicorn head at 4:30am … that very much feels like work, and you do need a break from it. That is why I have reserved quilting just for me, as my hobby … my escape. It’s why I enjoy singing in the car … because I work with my hands and talk all day long … sometimes it’s nice to escape from that and sing along to the Wicked soundtrack as I drive along the motorway.  I absolutely understand the appeal of mosaic … you can make it neat and orderly if that’s what you’re feeling, or you can take some crockery you found at the op shop, or tiles you found in the bargain bin at the tiling store, by donning some goggles and gloves, and  letting out your frustrations with a hammer! You can create order from chaos, a thing of beauty from tiny pieces, and each time you see it, it’s a reminder of those peaceful moments of escape and the fun you had in the making process.

If you are looking for Kate in her day job, you can FIND HER HERE

So … now it’s over to you.  I would love to ask you the same three questions.
What is your day job?
What is your craft of choice?
What do you get out of it?

If you’re up to it, I would love to know your answers.  You can comment on the blog at dawnlewis.com.au/podcast13, or maybe you’d prefer to email me or send me a message via Facebook or Instagram. If not, well, that’s ok too … but have a think?  What does craft do for you? I love that we can contribute to our craft, but it is also giving so much to us … sometimes it’s deep and meaningful, sometimes it’s light and fluffy, usually it’s exactly what we need.

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