My maker story is not one of huge light bulb moments, pivots in my career, or drastic life altering events that made me realise my creative potential. It has been more of a slow evolution, like how water gently shapes the course of a river over time. Making has always been a part of me and my life.
So, when LoveCrafts asked the question “Why I Make”, I really had to think hard. Why DO I make? I have wrestled with the question for weeks and the one thing that I keep coming back to is connection. Perhaps because of this time of pandemic and social distance, I’ve appreciated just how important these connections are. And, how intertwined they are with my maker story.
Historical connection: Making connects me to my past
I grew up in a creative home. My grandmother was an English woman who married during World War II. She raised her children all over the African continent and was a very resourceful lady. Regardless of whether the years were lean or plentiful, she would make. She made pickles and jam (traditions that still hold firm in our family), grew her own vegetables and sewed clothes from old bed linen (like the von Trapp family from the Sound of Music!)
She was also a knitter and her needles were always clacking away. One of my fondest memories was when I was overdue on a knitting project for school (do kids still learn knitting in school these days?). I decided to knit a little rag doll style dog in yellow overalls. It had taken me weeks and weeks to make just one side and I was far from finished. The project was due the next day and she quickly knitted up the second side, much neater than I ever could, and helped me to stitch it up.
One of my grandfathers was an engineer who was often squirreled away in his workshop making something. While my gran’s knitting needles clacked, he could be heard clinking in his workshop, welding something together or carefully hewing a piece of wood. I still have a bookshelf that he made which houses all my crafty books.
My mum is an amazing crafter and dabbles in everything creative, from embroidery and sewing, to woodwork and jewellery design. She isn’t afraid to give any craft a go and has taught me so many of the skills I use to run my business today. As you can see, making is part of my heritage!
Environmental connection: Making connects me to the world around me
So many of us are disconnected from the world around us and we go on our merry way without a second thought. Food, clothes and home decor are just things we buy from the store. When we make something ourselves, we have a much deeper appreciation for the effort and skill it takes to create that thing. We are also much more aware of our materials. How much they cost, where they come from, what they are made of, have they been ethically sourced?
As a designer, I’m constantly on the look out for inspiration. Whether it is the unique color combination on a butterfly wing or the shapes of flowers I see while out for a walk. I am connected to the environment by the mere fact that it inspires me to create.
Human connection: Making connects me to other people
Making connects me to other people. I don’t know about you, but I find giving a handmade gift pretty nerve wracking. Firstly, will I finish it in time? Will the receiver like it? Will they appreciate the effort it took to make it? Will they “get” what I was going for? As creatives, it’s a vulnerable thing to gift one of our makes. We’ve taken time over the design, matching the item to the receiver. Carefully pouring a piece of ourselves into our creations and offering it up to someone else. By giving something we have made, we are connecting ourselves to them.
Making also connects me to other makers. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It has the power to inspire and encourage, but it also has the power to discourage, lay down comparisons and quite simply, steal away productive time. However, one of the things I treasure from social media, is the friendships I have made online with other makers. Realising that there are people all over the world who are just as quirky and awkward as me is just wonderful! This global network has afforded me the opportunity to collaborate, to learn about other countries and cultures, and to share in other makers’ journeys. What wonderful camaraderie! Connection.
Personal connection: Making connects me to me
Making connects me to, well, me. Engaging my creative side and expressing myself through the things I have made both stimulates and forces me to slow down.
Making has the power to evoke all kinds of emotions. Gratitude when receiving something that has been handmade. Calm as my crochet hook works through the repetitive motion of stitches. Joy when opening a parcel of new yarn! Frustration when a design doesn’t go as planned. For years, makers have have harnessed this emotional connection to making, and use their creations to make statements and speak words into places where words just aren’t enough. That is very powerful.
Making things from scratch is also tremendously rewarding! I am strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, and believe there is huge value in how things are made, not just what is being made. With just my hands and a few tools and materials, I can make something useful. How amazing is that?!
Why I make?
So why do I make? Making connects my hands, to my thoughts, to my heart and to the things I believe in. Then further outwards to others, my heritage and my environment. It stretches me, challenges me, draws me into the world around me as well as provides respite from it. And if at the end of all that, I end up with a pretty kick ass granny square (like these ones!), then why not make?
Yours in craft,