Friday, April 12, 2013

Why Handmade: The Dreaded School Vacation

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

The main goal of this column is to discuss why we make handmade items, and why people buy them; however, I am going to stray just a bit. No worries, my intent will come back to the overall theme. I run my business from my home, with two children under foot. The youngest is with me all day every day, but the older child is in school for most of the day. This arrangement has its challenges, but they are consistent to the day to day routine. Then school vacation comes along and blows everything out of whack. Add to that mix grandparents coming for a visit, and it sounds impossible that any actual work will get done, right?


First, as a professional artist, I cannot afford to not be working at my craft in some way. Secondly, being an artist is so much a part of my identity, that taking time off is insanity. Most importantly, however, there is no reason to take time off.

How did artists become artists in the first place? We created as children. Our parents handed us crayons. They let us play with clay and finger paints, when other parents said no, it's too messy. We made necklaces out of macaroni and sewed little stuffed animals. Kids today only get an hour a week with an art teacher in school if they are lucky. A whole week off from school is an opportunity to maximize creative time.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Mohney, Prunella's Workshop
Kids do not need to be restricted to "kids' crafts." There are a lot of things kids can do that are "real" art. Personally, as a metal artist, there is much in my line of work that is not safe for a six or seven year old, as I work a great deal with an open flame. However, there is also a great deal I do which is perfectly safe for kid to try out, such as filing, sanding, and even playing a bit with a hammer. One just needs to think out of the box a bit.

Bringing kids into our crafts will help perpetuate our skills to the next generation. No one wants to see what they do become a dying art. It starts simple. We let them see us creating things and answer their questions to invoke curiosity. When they offer an idea, we run with it and create it. As they continue to watch what we do, we can hand them the reigns a little bit. It may slow down production temporarily, but your child will have more respect for what you do, more respect for what other people make, and may even become proficient in your craft. Better yet, they may become proficient in a completely different but equally admirable art. Meanwhile, you managed to continue to get some work done even during school vacation.
Floral Copper bracelet created by Lynn Mohney, inspired by idea suggested by 6 year old son; Photo courtesy of Duane Mohney.  Prunella's Workshop 

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