Crafters Are Happier People

If you think about it, crafting is just another form of creating, and creating gives us purpose.

Why is purpose important? Because it’s one of the keys to being happy, the state of being that all people strive to get to.

With that being said, how can crafters not be happier people?

I have observed, and experienced, this phenomena myself. A group of women, of all ages, who didn’t even know each other, got together recently to learn how to do a certain project. In just a few minutes, we were talking and laughing like old friends.

I have seen it in my own grandchildren, who are rambunctious and full of life, as most children are. But as soon as we sit down to do a craft, they are so focused on what they are doing, they don’t have time to complain or fight, and we all have a great time. Plus, they get to take their creation home for their parents to ooh and aah over, which helps build self-esteem.

I have heard teachers say crafting time is their favorite time. Not only does it calm the students down, but it gives them a chance away from the usual structure of the school day and lets them think freely. The students are more relaxed and they can let the creative juices flow much easier.

My youngest daughter has in a funk lately. The stress of life is taking a toll on her. Kids, work, a demanding husband, and the burden of running the house and paying bills is overwhelming. I’ve been there. I know what that feels like; you’re stuck and can’t really do anything about it. Or can you?

When you’re stuck, you have to get “un-stuck,” and one way to do that is do something you have never done.

So I asked her, “Do you have a hobby? Is there something new you’d like to try?”

She gave me a funny look, shook her head, and laughed. “Nothing. I don’t have time.”

“You have to make time,” I told her. “This is the part where you turn off your phone, tell your kids you need some alone time, and lock your bedroom door.  It’s important to take care of yourself, which includes doing something for you, something you enjoy doing.”

The more we talked, I discovered she saw a craft project she wanted to try involving string art.

“But I don’t know how.”

I grabbed my computer and googled string art. We looked up different varieties and got some ideas for a project of our own. We bought some nails, grabbed a hammer, a piece of finished wood, took out my embroidery string, and went to work.

We haven’t quite finished the project and I want to wait to unveil it, but something happened to Lori as we were working on the project. Her mood changed from one of depression to light-hearted. She was genuinely excited about what we were doing. And she smiled, a lot.

It was nice to see my happy-go-lucky little girl again.

I know achieving happiness is not as easy as that. It’s a complicated. We have happy moments, but most people can’t maintain that peaceful and content feeling very long. Life is stressful and we tend to get lost in the day-to-day struggles.

True happiness is a state of mind. Not only does it involve having a purpose; you have to decide that you aren’t going to let anyone or anything disturb your peace. You have to let go of those things you have no control over. And you have to be grateful for where you are at any given moment, something that requires more than a few hours of crafting.

But it’s a great start.

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Paper Mache Harder Than It Looks

According to Wikipedia, paper mache, or papier-mâché, (French for chewed paper), is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste.

Paper Mache

Paper Mache

I learned how to paper mache when I was little, around 5 years old, when my oldest sister showed us how to make puppets. She took a balloon, strips of newspaper, and a flour and water mixtures.

She saturated the strips and wrapped them around a balloon she had blown up. SHe let them dry and reapplied the paper mache until the blob was thick enough to stand alone when she deflated the balloon.IMG_9190

She then went to work cutting out fabric and sewing the two sides together, while us kids painted the faces on the paper mache. She added yarn for hair and viola! We had puppets!

I don’t remember if we ever had a puppet show, but as a 5-year-old, I thought the idea was pretty awesome.

I brought the idea up to my 10-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle, who agreed to help me. First, we asked the rest of the grandkids what character they would like to be. The answers ranged from a ninja, to a princess, to a baby elephant (a challenge in itself).

Then we made a list of things we’d need. We bought bits of fabric and googly eyes from Create Exchange and went to work on the paper mache. We found step-by-step instructions  to make paper mache online. sewing2

The process was slow and the paper strips might have been too long and wide, and maybe the balloons were too big (lesson learned), but we got the first layer on. We let it dry for a few days and applied another layer.

While the heads dried, we found a pattern online for the bodies and cut out the fabric. I showed Isabelle how to pin the two pieces together so they would be easier to sew. (She ended up putting a lot of pins in, so it took her longer to prepare the fabric than actually sew it.) She finished one set and decided that was enough for her.

The day came when it was finally time to decorate the puppets. I glued the heads to the fabric bodies with a glue gun, and used Elmer’s glue for the yarn/hair, smearing it around the head exactly where we wanted it.

After the hair dried a little, I let the kids put on the eyes and the mouths and whatever else they wanted, using Elmer’s glue. The elephant took a little more time, with the pink felt floppy ears Natalie wanted. Lennox’s ninja required a headband and mask, and Gianna’s princess needed a tiara.

After we were finished, we had to think of a story we could tell with our puppets; short and sweet,  and easy to remember. All the puppets had a part, even the baby elephant, who carried the ninja to the tower where the princess was held captive by the evil “other-mother” (according to Natalie).puppets

Everyone had a lot of fun, and though it was a lot of work, the memories we made will last a lifetime.

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Getting Crafty

I’m not a fan of Pinterest. I think it’s a great resource, but I don’t really participate. lilyEvery once in a while I’ll venture onto a certain page and see what’s there.

But I do use Facebook every day, and that’s where I get a lot of ideas for recipes and crafts. I love doing crafts with my grandkids. Not only does it bring out their creative side, but it seems to calm them down.  The other day, seated around a group of ladies I barely knew, I noticed the positive upbeat vibes that surrounded us, as we worked together on a window display for Create Exchange in Czech Village. We talked and laughed and eveyone had a great time, even though I normally have social anxiety in situations like that.

Though it was the first time I noticed the effect crafting had on people, I delightfully surmised from that point on that people who craft are happier people.

But I wasn’t always crafty. I was in First Grade when it became apparent that I was not a natural talent when it came to cutting and pasting. I held my scissors upside-down and made a mess of my paste, smearing it all over the paper instead of where it was supposed to go.

And when my kids were growing up, coloring with them was about the extent of my craftiness. BUT ….

People change and I discovered that I love getting crafty. Just like my recipes, I love taking something and making it my own.

A recent project with my granddaughters developed into a great way to bond and share ideas for future projects. “Wishful Thinking” boards are fairly simple and inexpensive to make, too. (The name comes from making a wish and then creating it on your board to hang in your room or wherever you want.)

I started with boards from a discarded wooden pallet. I used a Sawzall to cut out the planks between the nails, sanded the boards to get rid of the rouch edges, drilled holes for the cords, and stained the boards (which can also be painted).

After we let them dry, we took a board and made it into whatever we wanted. The girls all wanted their boards to be personalized, so instead of messing around with stencils, which I am not very good at, I took wooden letters, painted them, and then hot-glued them to the boards.

We used a variety of different media (purchased from Create Exchange and other inexpensive stores) to decorate the boards including embroidered patches, paper, stickers, wooden shapes, and even buttons.

The boards were a hit! The boards are simple to make and so much fun, too! We talked about what other things we can use to create new boards, and they are already planning gifts for Christmas.

I guess I know what I will be getting them this year. 🙂