Photo by Markus Spiske
One of the signs of Christmas is the proliferation of craft sales. I have an ongoing love/hate affair with crafts, more captivated by traditional ones than modern kit or glue gun creations. To be fair, the latter may have something to do with all my burn scars.
I started young, caught up in the tacky fabrications of my generation. My grade school suffered from spooling fever. Even a few boys were caught up in the competition. We carried empty thread spools with four nails on the top, a nail, knitting needle or crochet hook, and a wad of scrap wool. By spool knitting, we created woollen tubes the thickness of our thumbs.
Over sticky lunch tables, we compared our multicoloured cords. One student, whose work was as long as the gymnasium floor, drew gasps of envious admiration. It wasn’t because these cords could be used to make something useful, like clothing or blankets. Though, the more ambitious of us actually sewed these into potholders, tea cozies and Max. More often than not, every item turned out looking like a woollen bowl. Most of them made their way to the landfill as we moved on to bottle caps.
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti
Before the age of canned pop, everyone had a wall-mounted bottle opener. Some had a container below to catch the caps. We washed the sticky caps, checked the liners for prize-winning words, and then nailed these caps in rows onto a piece of plywood. This was to be left outside the door as a boot scraper. I wondered what people could walk in the required such drastic wiping. I preferred stringing pop caps as arms and legs for marionettes. Either way, rust soon caused the extinction of bottle Crafts. Nature does know best.
The absolute worst item to collect had to be foil wrappers from cigarette packages. The boys peeled the foil off the paper backing and pressed it into a huge ball. Rumor had it that pure foil could be sold for a bundle of money if you collected enough. Not enough, though, to pay for new lungs.
The girls, more interested in tangible results, smoothed out paper-backed foil. It was rolled over a knitting needle from the widest side to the middle. Another knitting needle was rolled from the other side to the middle. The tinfoil was crunched up the needle to form an attractive crinkle. The needles were carefully removed and the paper was then curved into a loop, looking like a “silver flower petal.” It didn’t smell like one.
These petals were sewn singly on an oval of fabric, from the outside inward, in decreasing circles. This was set in the back of the automobile as a durable doily. The stench of cigarette wrappers still brings back memories of long car drives.
As I matured, I discovered the beauty of traditional crafts. There was a time when I crocheted everything, toys, clothes, handbags, Afghans, ornaments and dolls.
Sad to say, from there, I went onto macramé. Although I made more plant hangers than I ever had plants, I finally cured myself when I finished the obligatory owl perched on Driftwood. Those dead wooden bead eyes spoke volumes.
I have tried various other crafts, but always come back to needlework. I guess I feel a special kinship with my ancestors who sowed by firelight, creating their own interpretations of still life, landscape and home. There is something intrinsically rewarding about creating a picture without mechanization, no sewing machine, glue gun, drill or staple gun. There is also a special satisfaction in deviating from the pattern, altering the colors, picture or lettering to suit oneself. Best of all, is starting from scratch, designing an original pattern, knowing nowhere else on the planet is there a similar piece of work. There is nothing more fulfilling than creation.
Those of us who can’t walk by a scrap box, be it would, wall or junk, without examining the potential within our kindred spirits. You may feel you have your own “craft compulsion” well under control, having long ago abandoned spooling and bottle caps. If so, I dare you to answer yes or no to the following checklist. Tell me what your score was in the comments.
Are You a Craft Junkie? Quiz
Craft junkies constantly guess what percentage of an item is handmade, including body casts.
Craft junkies have more than one project on the go and seldom abandon one they have started, even if the oldest dates from Trudeaumania.
Craft junkies create from scratch when it would be cheaper to buy factory-mate.
Craft junkies judge their work by sale value, by resale value, by exchange value, but mostly by REAL value.
Craft junkies have difficulty throwing anything away, including old bras, paper cups, and used tinfoil.
Craft junkies take their wool very seriously.
Craft junkies have difficulty with advanced technology.
Craft junkies overreact to changes in color numbers or labels be it wool, embroidery floss, or thread.
Craft junkies constantly seek new patterns for items they have no time to make.
Craft junkies usually feel they are different than other artists/creators.
What was your score? Share in the comments below.