Crafty People - Why Do You Do It?

Last night I was working on a cross stitch project while chatting with friends, when one of them said the typical “I couldn’t do that, I don’t have the patience,” (man, if I had a nickle…) then followed it up with “So, what are you going to do with it?”

“Do with it?” I said, incredulously. “I don’t know. I’m just making it because it’s pretty.”

The project is just a little kit, butterflys on blue adia. I explained that it could be framed as a picture or made into a little pillow, but that I had no real plans for it. I have half a dozen little projects like that laying around, finished but unmounted or whatever. I cross stitch and bead for relaxation, and I make quilts for the challenge of design and construction. I almost never have a plan for the finished work. Whenever I start a new quilt project The Elf is always asking me who it’s for. Heck, it’s for nobody! Do I have to have a reason to want to create something pretty?

I find this line of questioning a bit annoying, but it made me curious. Why do you create the things you do? Do you always have a receipent in mind, even if it’s only for youself? Or do you just make it because it’s pretty, like I do, then figure out what to do with it later?

I cross-stitch a lot, yet I’ve only ever had one piece framed. I have dozens of finished pieces rolled up in a basket, but I don’t care to have them hanging around on my walls. Just not my taste in decorating, and I never get around to framing them and giving them away. Once I’m finished with one, I just move on to a new one, shove the finished one into the basket, and forget about it.

I find it soothing and relaxing to do something so methodical and pretty. It lets my mind wander while my hands are busy.

I used to embroider dresser scarves and pillow cases and aprons, but now I can’t seem to find those patterns in any of the craft stores. Those, I might give away as gifts.

I consider myself a maker, not an artist - my creativity stops at making things. I always like to be making things with my hands - usually for a specific purpose (embroidering a pair of jeans, sewing something, or knitting squares for my ongoing afghan), but rarely for gifts or anything like that. Mostly just because I like to keep my hands busy, especially while watching tv.

I guess I’m like you. I cross-stitch and quilt, and it’s mostly because I like what I’m doing.

Cross-stitching is largely something nice to do in the evenings while I veg with DangerDad, and I pick up patterns because I like them, not because I have plans for them most of the time. Some I frame, some sit around for a while, and some I give to people. Once I did choose a pattern and sew it specifically for my SIL’s nursery, and it wasn’t one I would have chosen normally. I think that was the only time.

Quilting is about half-and-half. I have had a lot of weddings and babies to sew gifts for lately, and usually try to make something that I think will fit the people I’m sewing for. At the same time, I buy a lot of fabric and patterns because I like them and have an idea of something neat to do. Some of these have wound up on my wall or a bed, or I save them until the right recipient comes along. Recently I made a quilt with bunny appliques on it, and at the end announced that it was the ‘sick kid’ quilt–but really I just needed an excuse to keep it around. :wink:

I’m another one with a huge bin filled with finished, unblocked, unmounted projects (I do needlepoint). I keep thinking I want to frame the mermaid picture, though.

I do mostly art and cartooning and stuff, but most people don’t know I also like to sew (I just learned to use a sewing machine) and do things like floral arranging, and cross-stitch/embroidery. I love baking. I love decorating. Hell, I’ve even started building my own computers because I like putting them together.

I guess it boils down to the fact that I just like making things. Damn near anything creative. I was crafty as a kid; besides drawing, I started doing embroidery probably when I was around 10 or 12. My mom tried to teach me to sew but as a young’un I could never quite get the hang of it. My dad is a big do-it-yourselfer and I used to always want to help him with whatever he was building/making/repairing when I was little. My boyfriend and I fight over who gets to do the assembly whenever we buy a new piece or furniture or something else that comes disassembled.

To answer your first question, I’ve had people ask me “why I bothered” plenty of times as well. Especially with the sewing/embroidery items, I suppose since it has less pratical application than baking or home improvement. Usually I just say it’s because I like it. I don’t think you need a reason to do something you enjoy. if you’re anything like me, I’m a total busybody, so even if I’m just watching TV I gotta be doing something with my hands at the same time.

To answer the second question, I used to embroider just for the relaxation and heck of it, but I am so busy and working on so many things lately, that usually I only do it now when I have a specific recipient for the project in mind, and I pick out the things I sew with that in mind.

One of these days I’m going to frame the three completed cross stitch pieces, but where to put them afterwards?? I thought about the dining room, or the living room, but I’m not sure where, and they are small enough they might be better in a corner or the bathroom. So hard to make a decision! Maybe when I figure out where I’m going to put them I will frame them. sigh

Just for fun, I:

Finish small wood things. I bought a cheap little three-drawer jewelry thing, finished it, lined it with felt, and use it for my costume jewelry.

Cross-stitch.

Knit.

Paint things.

Etc., etc. The fun is in the doing, not the using.

I try to draw sometimes.

But more successfully, I paint pewter miniatures. It’s a side-hobby of the whole roleplaying game thing. People marvel at my patience in doing so - but I find it very relaxing.

Oh, I do too! I love this. I have a whole bunch painted, sitting on a curio shelf.

I don’t know how successful mine are, though.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as “crafty,” as it has nothing to do with sewing or traditional arts and crafts, but it’s the same principle: spending way too much time making something look nice for no practical reason.

I do a bit of modding, especially on the Xbox. This is cosmetic modding, not to be confused with the other kind of Xbox modding, which allows you to play pirated games (among other, slightly more legal uses).

For example, I’ll Dremel out a large hole in the Xbox case, and replace it with a small sheet of lightly sanded clear plastic. Then I rig up a bunch of incredibly bright LEDs on the inside of the case, pointed at the edges of the plastic. The imperfections from the sanding “catch” the light, and give my Xbox the appearance of having a bright blue (or green or red or whatever) glowing square on top. If my explanation is hard to understand, check out a picture of an Xbox I did here. (The edges are actually perfectly smooth and straight, but the brightness of the light makes it look uneven.)

You can even put LEDs in the controller ports and change the light in the eject switch.

What I’ve done is pretty standard fare for Xbox modding. If you dig around on the web you can find some really amazing stuff that people spent months on.

Uh, but I guess the question was why do I do it, wasn’t it? Well, I guess it’s a relaxing hobby when I’m not screwing it up and pissing myself off. Also, it just looks cool. Sometimes that’s all the reason you need.

I was, at one point, going to take pictures of my minis and post them on my website, starting with the bad ones I did first, and onto the better ones I do now - but my digital camera really doesn’t like to focus that close, and then adjusting the pictures once I get them is a major hassle.

Oh, that’s too bad. Right now the only means of comparison I have is my own boyfriend, and he’s very good. So no matter what mine look shoddy next to his.

It would have been nice to see someone else’s level of improvement, so I could compare my own.

Well, maybe I’ll put them up eventually. I do pretty good - I don’t end up with the truly awesome results that I’ve seen some people get, but I’m veyr happy with what I can achieve. Happy to trade tips anytime.

Ok, any tips you have on doing faces would be awesome. I find those itty bitty little faces very difficult.

I am very crafty and I always get those questions from my DH. But it’s always for me, unless someone speficially asks me to do something for them.

I . . .

paint
draw
scrapbook

I did my flowers, veil, programs, centerpieces, and favors for my wedding. All of which turned out beautiful.

Sometimes I have a purpose, most times not. I’m a professional artist and I also do a LOT at home as far as creating stuff. I don’t think I could be happy if I didn’t have stuff to do. It’s meditation for me as I’m sure it is for most creative types.

Next time they ask, return it with a question: what do you do to meditate and unwind?

I get that attitude from folks too, particulary The Elf. I made a necklace for my mom for Christmas (which she loved) and when I showed it to The Elf he said “it’s pretty. Will she wear it?” and then wondered why I walked away in a huff. It would be like me asking him “The new piece of music is nice. Do you think your fans will listen to it?” He is endlessly fascinated with my craft projects and that I seem to need something to do with my hands while just sitting around with the tube on, but he doesn’t seem to understand the why’s of just making things for the sake of making things. Oh, and his other favorite comment is “Where are you going to put that when it’s done? It doesn’t go with anything.” I just give him the raised eyebrow on that one. :dubious:

And so far you all have answered the question quite nicely. Even modifying the XBox case is crafty for the sake of making something cool.

I used to paint minatures too. [cranky old lady] but in my day they were made of lead! And we liked it! And I ate food without washing my hands first while handling them and nothing horrible happened to me… what was I talking about again?[/cranky old lady]. I still have some of them floating around in a box somewhere. I really enjoyed making them look like my character did in my head.

Am I the only one who opened this thread thinking you were asking people why they were devious?

Of course we are devious, that’s why we are talking in code. Do you really think this thread is about needlework?

Actually I thought about that when I was writing the title. :slight_smile: Thanks for noticing.

I too am a painter of figurines. A pretty damn good one. One reason is that I was a model-builder as a kid and switched to something smaller to do as a dorm-dweller. But now I have friends who are RPGers and wargamers and will actually pay for nice minis. That is nice for covering some of the cost but I still like to do minis just for the fun of it. Many of the ones I do for myself end up on eBay. That isn’t just for the money. It’s also an ego boost when people bid competitively for my stuff. Another thing is that I can do it while listening to TV or a DVD.