Arts and Crafts

My mother is fond of saying that if something sits still around me for too long, I will paint it. I always wish to contradict her but darn it, she's right. (Well, I don’t actually paint doodles on things anymore...) But she’s right that I like to make things. And I believe it's genetic, this need to create objects with one's own hands—my father was a very talented model maker (among other things), and my mother has been known to crochet a fine coverlet and weave a pretty basket herself (among other things). Their mothers puttered, as well.

I find my creative outlet dividing into many (too many) channels, and I have a full walk-in closet to prove it! (I had always secretly scoffed at my mother and her ever-changing, fad craft projects. Yet now I have reached—alas, long-passed—the dreaded point in my life where I must admit that "I have become my mother"...) Writing long-winded webpages & emails and photography are only two of many pots I have on to boil at any given time. When I do paint things, I rely more on stencils or rubber stamps these days than freehand work. I like to build things too, although I have not the patience nor experience yet of my father. (But thanks to him, I have a good start on a nice selection of power tools.)

Thanks to my mother forwarding me an internet craft forum page about a copper trellis made out of copper plumbing pipe and connectors, my tool box now includes a propane torch, flux and solder. I'm still working on the finer points (like how to keep everything square while soldering), but I think these turned out rather well. The birdhouse has had copious amounts of morning glory on it every summer since I made it.

A natural extension of the copper pipe work is copper wire-work. This stuff is FUN.

Back before My Space and Facebook, when social media (and the founders of those companies) was still in its infancy, there were online forums. The few I started with are still there, including Garden Junk and Garden Accouterments. That’s how a whole bunch of us all around the country (and world, even then!) started gluing glass marbles onto objects—originally, on to old bowling balls. I didn’t ask for my parents’ old team equipment, so I used foam, whiffle and golf balls instead…

I can hook a small crochet project (cat toys!) but my productivity is nothing like dad's mom and my own mother used to do—afghans for everyone! I certainly don't knit. I tried. Once. Taught myself, even… Ouch. I did (finally) get the feel of it but I was too terribly slow to tolerate it for long. (I have the same attitude towards cross-stitch.) Yet there is one form of knitting I do enjoy. Remember making endless little tubes of yarn on a wooden thread spool (hah, remember those?!) that had four nails hammered into one end? I used to have slightly larger plastic version for knitting doll clothes. Nowadays they make even bigger rings, in all sorts of diameters, upon which you can knit tubes large enough for human hats... I can spin out a really neat, basic hat in two hours. (Time varies with the number and persistence of the cats I have to keep removing from the yarn.)

I'm not much into hand stitchery (I do own a sewing machine),  see above comment about knitting, but I enjoy a few kinds of needlework (such as small cross-stitch projects). Cute ornament kits I worked up a few years ago introduced me to 14 count plastic canvas (one of mom's craft fads decades ago was needlepoint on plastic canvas that must have been about 7 count), and I finally bought a kit that uses the tiny plastic canvas to make these nifty bracelets... The drafting of new designs is as much a creative outlet, if not more so, than the actual construction of the bracelets; I came up with the holly leaves and the checkered designs to the left all by myself. :) I even took the kit further and made "button hole" closures instead of fastening them with a bead and loop.

Once a biology major, always a biology major... (Guess why I took fly tying in college to fulfill a required Phys. Ed. course???) These are some of the pieces I’ve beaded:

I have even given book binding a shot. A friend had written a marvelous little fairy tale and shared it with me. It was far too good to remain locked on a computer disk, so I printed it out, borrowed a graphic off the internet and designed a cover from it, and viola! It was a lot of fun; I wish I had more short stories sent to me so I could give them back as keepsakes…

As a variation on the book theme, a crafty friend happened to mention a project whereby you cover those black marble composition books to make custom journals... So I took the idea and ran with it, throwing in a little rubber-stamping, some shrink plastic pieces, decoupage, and a few beaded ribbons to get these journals (fronts and backs):

I started weaving full-sized baskets some years ago, but in the summer of 2000, I tried to see how small I could go. Thanks to an expert basket maker's inspiration, I became addicted to weaving miniature baskets. (To give perspective on size, the reed with the stenciled heart design is an inch high.)

(I also wove the pack basket from which these minis are hanging. And I wove the checkered strap as well. You can just make out a watermelon-patterned strap to the upper right; I wove that one as well.)

A tisket, a tasket, a berry in a basket. As in "a single berry" basket, my first tiny basket. (I might be more thrilled with the way the photo turned out than the basket...)

Baskets aren't the only things I weave. I own a number of various textile-weaving looms as well, including a four-harness 48” loom and a floor inkle loom. Here are three:

All photos ©2000-2003 wren’s nest designs