Monday, April 16, 2012


Almost everyone in the world has a hobby. There are those who painstakingly build miniature worlds just the right scale for a tiny train to travel through. Others carefully assemble and paint small replicas of soldiers to place on a tabletop battlefield in order to mock fight the replicas put together and painted by their opponents. Some people spend hours working on skills, such as juggling or dancing, in order to entertain others. Hobbies are things we work at in our spare time in order to enjoy the outcome.

Most hobbies, especially arts and crafts, require more than just yourself. One can’t knit without needles. The worst part about a hobby is that you often don’t get paid for it. On top of that, the materials required to do it are usually expensive. When you’re finally finished with a project, there’s the problem of what to do with it. One can only have so many cross stitched pillows before they have to be gotten rid of somehow.

Many of my hobbies have fallen into the “crafting” category. I enjoy the process of creating things, and as a kid, my Aunt Andrea made sure I had plenty of opportunities. She was a frequent customer of Klutz Press, and it seemed like for every Christmas and every birthday I got craft kits. The great thing about stuff from Klutz is that not only do you get an instruction book, but you also get materials so that you can start immediately.

I got a kit to make things out of polymer clay in elementary school. I made miniature food, tons of beads, and a paperweight shaped like a truck for my dad. (I wanted to put “DATSUN” on the tailgate, a nickname I had for him, but it ended up being too small; I barely fit the word “DAD” on it.)

In junior high I got a book on how to make hemp necklaces. They were very popular at the time, but since I didn’t use it immediately, by the time I got the book out and started making them, no one wanted to buy them from me (they were very willing to accept them as gifts, however). The nice part about the necklaces was that I could use all of the clay beads I had made when I was younger. I even got out my clay kit and made more. I spent less time doing that than I spent in the bead aisles of the local craft stores, though.

Later in high school I recieved a beaded ring kit, complete with a rainbow assortment of tiny translucent plastic beads and a spool of wire. I immediately started on the ideas presented by the instruction book, but my friends were no more eager to pay for these trinkets than they were to pony up the cash for the necklaces. At some point a friend and I had started using embroidery floss to make necklaces, and I was able to use the same beads for these more delicate necklaces as I was for the beaded rings.

When my husband and I graduated from college, I didn’t order graduation announcements. Instead I bought some cards with the university crest on them from the university bookstore and some nice pens and wrote every single one of the graduation announcements out by hand. I enjoyed it, and I doubt I could have found a printer that wouldn’t have charged me tons to print my BA in History information alongside my husband’s BEE in Electrical Engineering information.

I fell in with some cardmaking types after we moved to Colorado (far less dangerous than falling in with a biker gang, but possibly more expensive). Card making is Scrapbooking’s little sister; both hobbies use a lot of the same materials, but a card project is finished more quickly than a scrapbooking project. The awesome thing about card making is that you don’t have to agonize over what to do with the finished product, since you usually begin the project with the knowledge of who is going to receive it. I used these newly acquired skills and ideas to make birth announcements for myself and for a friend. My encouraging Aunt Andrea had given me a paper making kit in while I was in college, but I haven’t used it yet. Now that I’ve unearthed it from the various moving boxes, I’ll be able to use it to make card paper instead of buying paper at the craft store.

My mother has taken up crocheting recently, and so my sister-in-law and I did, too. We go “yarning” together, walking up and down the craft store aisles bursting with yarn, choosing the prettiest colors, the most interesting yarn. My sister-in-law has also taught herself to knit, and she is not often seen without her crafting bag and some interesting project coming to life in her hands.

I have several boxes full of leftover crafting products. Old clay beads, bags full of hemp cord and embroidery floss, tupperware stuffed with glass and plastic beads, and spools of wire. Another box is full of yarn leftover from a recent project in addition to a small box with cardmaking materials in it. There is one box dedicated to finished hemp and embroidery floss necklaces, made by me and my friend Elizabeth. I’m not sure how much we spent on the materials to make them in the first place, but if I could get them sold, she and I would be splitting quite a large amount of money.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s a market for them anymore. Elizabeth and I took them to a couple of different craft fairs, but barely made up the amount it had cost us to set up a table in the first place. Today, smart crafters use etsy. You can find just about anything there; it’s “your place to buy and sell all things handmade, vintage, and supplies."

I enjoy all my crafting hobbies. I love the process of creating something, whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a huge, thick blanket. While I have spent far more money on the materials to make things than I have made money on them, I still like to craft. And someday, I’ll give away or sell the things I’ve made.

Anybody want to buy a necklace?

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