Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Handmade: Trying New Things

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

My son is almost seven years old and hates to try new foods. He is terrified that he might not like it. On one hand, as long as one has a diet that is healthy and nourishing enough to sustain life, trying a large variety of foods might not be necessary. However, limiting oneself without ever at least giving things a try is very limiting to what could be a most positive experience. His point is that he might not like it, and my point is he might love it, but he’ll never know.

He is right though. He might not like something he tries. My son might not be good at everything he attempts to do. I am certainly not good at everything I have ever tried. Sports of any kind seem to have proven to be detrimental to both my health and everyone surrounding me. Nonetheless, I try new things when the opportunity strikes in order to better myself and achieve new goals.

For a quite a long time there were many different arts and crafts that I dabbled in.  For the most part they went well. Watercolor painting and portraiture were both successful. I proved capable behind a sewing machine, though I never felt the passion for it that my mother experiences. I am fairly satisfied with my computer graphic design abilities; however, there are other crafts that did not fair well at all.  Knitting proved to be a disaster, though my recent crocheting attempt faired slightly better. My attempt at oil painting in college was, in my opinion, grotesque, though my husband enjoys keeping one of them hanging on his office wall to mock me. However, if I had stopped at one of the skills that I was good at, I may never have found my passion.

The oil painting that mocks me - Prunella's Workshop
The idea of trying new skills brings me back to when I was in college. I majored in liberal arts with a focus in graphic design. The liberal arts portion required me to take a variety of classes, and my parents had the foresight to encourage me to take classes not because they were easy, but because they would be eye opening. I took their advice, and I took French for my language requirement and guitar lessons instead of music appreciation. I had never taken a language past Sesame Street Spanish nor had I ever played a musical instrument. To this day I still can do neither. I tried though. I listened to those French tapes though I was so confused I was trying to determine the gender of all the la tables around me. I caused my poor Monsieur Guitare Homme great pain as I strummed the cords on my guitar incorrectly. He made me promise I would never pick up a guitar again if he gave me a B for effort and promised I was better at drawing. I made the promise. These experiences made me a well-rounded person with a better appreciation for others’ skills.  I am astounded by those who speak multiple languages when I have only accomplished English, and I bow down to musicians. Not only that, I had a great deal of fun trying.

For fun, I opened up this discussion to my fellow Boston Handmade members, as I assumed I was not the only one who found there were certain crafts that just did not work for them. I found I was not alone in my issues with knitting and/or crocheting. Jessica admitted she has had no success when it comes to crocheting, and Kerrie of Cody’s Creations noted issues with knitting, including an allergy to wool, which can always damper the potential of a new craft. Still more, despite the number of people I have heard state they could never do anything artistic or creative because they cannot draw, Liz of Lush Beads, Bev of Linkouture, and Diane of Lady Dye Fiber Arts all confessed that they do not believe they can draw. My fellow members did not stop with their admissions there, however.  Sharon of Stray Notions shared she is unable to throw clay on a potter’s wheel or take a half decent photograph, and Lucie of Lucie Wicker Photography explained that she cannot stand screen printing as it reminds her of fingernails on a blackboard.

However, the point is not what these fine artisans cannot do. We are all human with our own limitations. Every one of them has tried their hand at several things and learned where they have found a true passion and talent and where they do not excel quite so much. I encourage you to check out their work. We have found our way by being open minded to trying and experience new things. We also can appreciate better those who do excel at these skills. So what new thing will you try today?
My first completed jewelry outside of a class.  There was great room for improvement, but it was much more enjoyable than oil painting had been for sure! - Prunella's Workshop

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