Thursday, December 13, 2007

I make things

We've been together long enough now that I feel it's safe to reveal this very intimate and quirky aspect of my personality.

Ummm... I make things. I mean, I make things. Lots of them. Or to be precise (and I must), I try things.

I've been making things for a long time. I first recognized this might be a personality quirk as a young teen in the early 70s. I was rummaging around behind the garage looking for a nice piece of firewood upon which to Modge Podge a crude approximation of Holly Hobbie that I had drawn. Even at the time, I thought "How odd, that I feel compelled to do this." But do it, I did. And I was pleased.

Other projects from that era that come to mind are some avocado green melamine salad plates I painted (can't remember what though) and a carved Plaster-of-Paris plaque of the cover art from my copy of The Two Towers. That last one was pretty cool, actually. I poured the Plaster-of-Paris into a disposable aluminum pie tin, carved the image using my mom's manicure tools, and sealed it with nail polish.

I took a really cool class called Craft Design my freshman year in high school. We got to carve wood, hammer brass bowls, and other neat projects. Sheer heaven! I wish I still had some of those early efforts. But since I was a science geek at heart, I abandoned my crafting classes in favor of more science-y things.

I'd learned to knit and crochet as a young child at my Mema's knee and I gravitated back to it later in high school. Pushing past some horrible memories from junior high Home Ec*, I even took up sewing when my husband bought me a sewing machine the first Christmas we lived together**. I must've been all of 19.

Over the next two decades or so, things got quite out of hand. Cross stitch, crewel embroidery, needlepoint, calligraphy, knitting, pottery, ceramics, basketry, quilting, mathematics, grad school, breadmaking, knitting, piano, computers, weaving, and spinning. Knitting's in there a lot. I did a lot of knitting.

As you probably noticed, mixed in there are some things that don't actually produce things. That's when I started forming the notion that I might be trying things, ideas, concepts; not just making things.

Somewhere in there came the soapmaking. Which, of course, led to making other bath & body products. Which, of course, necessitated the launching of a small business*** to sell stuff to get $$ and free up space to make more. Unfortunately, the conceiving of and creating small businesses with the obligatory websites, brochures, and logos took on a life of its own. Another thing to try.

Took about a decade to burn that out of my system. Along the way I managed to try a few more things: Wood carving, running, family blogging, wire jewelry, keeping chickens, singing (choral and lessons), baking, chocolate work, and cake decorating.

Now as I approach what must be the 35-year-point in my career of trying things, I think I've run out of normal things to try because it's starting to get a little weird. My most recent projects include exploring the possibilities of plarn and making clocks out of old CDs. And writing this thing. I mean really! Can it get any more random than that?

For a long time I felt bad about confusing my spouse, spending bucks on books and supplies (half the fun, you know), and then not sticking with things. I thought that there must be something wrong with me. However, lately I've come to realize that while some interests do "stick", it's really the process of learning and understanding -- grokking, if you will -- that I thrive on. A meta-hobby, perhaps?

Mr. B calls it "collecting competencies", which I like even though I can't claim I've always achieved competency along the way. And even better, Mr. B shares my susceptibility to random and severe attacks of Shiny! As in "Ooooh, look! Shiny!". I find that very comforting. And yeah, I'll confess: It is kind of fun to watch someone else succumb.

As for future projects? Future blogfodder!

p.s. Free knitting patterns here!

*Orange and purple plaid pants. I shit you not. Hey, it was the 70's.

**Poor Ex. He thought that would domesticate me. I liked making things with it but never did catch the homemaking bug. Just the first in a long series of disappointments for him, I'm afraid.


  1. But you made such kick-ass soap!

  2. You don't have to BECOME competent, you just have get to the point where you can say 'Yeah, I could definitely get really good at this if I stuck with it." Then you can go looking for the next shiny undertaking.

  3. Or -- competence be damned -- decide "nope, not my bag, baby" and move on. I have no problem doing that. :)


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