Stop pinning, Start making!

PINNING PIC

For most creative people, inspiration is everywhere! There is nothing bad about seeing a project and getting that spark to make it. Where it gets bad though, is when you have 1,000 pins on your “Crafts” board on Pinterest, and none of those have actually been made. The whole point of inspiration is to give you that ‘ZING’ moment where you go “this is awesome! Such a good idea! I should totally make this!”. What often happens though, is we get so carried away with so many amazing inspiring ideas, that we never get the chance to let our own creativity emerge by actually making something. It’s like “pinning paralysis”, where the more creative ideas we are exposed to, the less likely we are to feel confident about actually making anything. So the next time you run across that awesome candy buffet, or that great gift idea for a close friend, or a gorgeous decor project, keep the following in mind:

Supplies: do I already have what it takes to make this? How much would it cost for tools and ingredients? Is this a material I have never worked with before?

Time: How long would this take to make? Am I likely to finish it all in one go? Or will I start it and then forget abut it for a few months? Is now a good time for me to commit to a more serious project?

Necessity: Do I need this in my life? Am I going to thank myself later for making this? Or is this just going to add to the clutter in my life? If I am making this for someone else, will they appreciate it enough for it to be worth making? (more about craft-worthiness in a future post)

I know it seems harsh or limiting to think so critically about your sources of inspiration. The point of this is not to restrict creativity, but to make sure it is directed at the right things. Think about it: if you find a source of inspiration, then soon you act upon it and make something wonderful, you will feel even more motivated and excited about continuing your creativity. If, however, you continue to endlessly pin incredible ideas that linger and never come to fruition, you may end up feeling your creativity is stilted and blocked. (more on how to overcome that in a future post)

So go ahead, take on a project that has been sitting in one of your boards for a while, and make it your own! Take pride in fulfilling that original spark of inspiration and expressing your creativity.

Got an inspiring Pinterest project to share? Leave a link in the comments, and I might just feel inspired and make it!

Home Office Transformation

A home office may not be a requirement for everyone, but for those of us who prefer a designated space for studying, catching up on paperwork, or even taking work home, it is essential.

When putting together a home office, think about your specific needs. What is the space going to be used for? What are your must-haves for the space? How much time will you be spending in that space?

Here are a few more things to consider:

Lighting– if it is possible to have your work space near a window for natural light it is preferred. However, for some it is a distraction, or creates too much glare. Think about the optimal lighting you would need for the type of tasks done in the space. Is the general light in the room causing you to cast a shadow on the work-space? Consider adding a desk lamp for more focused task light.

Ergonomics– this may not be at the top of your priorities, but if you are planning to spend a few hours a day in your home office space, it would be nice not to be sore afterwards. Make sure when seated your knees are at a 90 degree angle, and that your shoulders and elbows are not strained to reach for things like the keyboard or mouse.

Storage– try and have your essentials within an arm’s reach. It is fine to store other items separately, but for increased productivity keep daily use items quickly accessible and frequently replenished as needed.

The home office I am featuring next is mainly used for studying and doing work tasks on the computer. It needed to be functional and sleek at the same time, as well as keeping it within budget!

office b+a

The cork board / white board combo, pen cup, and stacking paper shelf were all purchased at the thrift store, for under $10 altogether. I decided to give the board a quick coat of paint (which I already had from a previous project) to inject some color into the space, as it would be rather monochrome otherwise.

board b+a

Let me know what you think, and what your home office must-haves are in the comments!

Re-cycle, Re-use, Re-purpose: why buy new?

3 r's

One of the biggest issues I have faced as a crafter and maker is the constant temptation of buying new things. New supplies, new tools, new materials, anything that is new and shiny catches my eye like a magpie. Have you ever been to a craft store and felt like you could spend HOURS just browsing the aisles, touching everything, dreaming up all the wonderful projects you could accomplish if only you had that one thing…

I feel you. This is a challenge for me from a few aspects:

1) Budget– I simply cannot afford to splurge and go all out on craft supplies.
2) Space– I live in a small space so cannot afford the extra square footage to store all the STUFF.

So how do I satisfy that craft craving without breaking the bank and qualifying as a clinical hoarder?
I try to re-use, re-cycle, and re-purpose things I already have at home in new ways, spicing them up with a bit of imagination, and shuffle things around in an unexpected way. Here are a few examples:

Tea tins. I love tea and my family and friends know it so they always gift me tea, which usually comes in sturdy tins. A normal person might throw these out after their original purpose has been served, but I try and find ways to put this perfectly usable container to good use.

Gift wrap. Yes, I am THAT person that tries to open their gifts carefully so that the beautiful paper it came wrapped in can be used another time. Same goes for ribbon, bows, tissue paper, and gift bags. I don’t usually re-use the paper to wrap a present though, but more to create paper-crafts or decorate other items around the house.

Jars. This is an obvious one, as that is a pretty common item to re-use. Depending on the size, I use old food jars to store pens, hair accessories, homemade dry shampoo, and q-tips. These also make the perfect container / shaker for homemade salad dressing!

In some cases, it is not enough to just use the things you have, and a little something extra is needed. For budget reasons, I try to purchase most of my additional project materials and supplies from either the dollar store, or a thrift store. You will be pleasantly surprised at the stuff you’ll find!

You will notice that the majority of the projects and DIY ideas features on this site are either re-used, re-cycled, or re-purposed in some way. That is because those types of projects inspire me the most: the challenge of creating something beautiful out of something ordinary. I hope my projects inspire you to re-think your space and the items within it, and make something awesome!

Why craft?

background

To me, crafting is a lot more then just going to a craft store and loading up on expensive supplies that will only be used for one project. To me, crafting is the ultimate form of creativity: looking around you, recognizing a need, and figuring out how to make something to meet that need.

When I was little I would stay in my room all day and make stuff. My parents refused to buy me a dollhouse so I made one. I felt like putting on a puppet show so I made a stage and puppets to match. I was going through a Harry Potter phase and made my own wands and ‘potions’. This trained my brain to look at the world through a creative lens, and when possible- make instead of buy.

Many crafters latch on to one type of craft, for example: knitting, or card making. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the case for me. I never pigeon-holed myself into one type of material, or one technique. Instead, I set out to passionately experience and learn as much as possible about EVERYTHING. I love making things out of paper, I know how to use a sewing machine, I can knit, I have some basic woodworking skills, I love painting, and a bunch of other things. The only downfall to being a multi-crafter is the size of the supply stash that comes with the territory! So finding creative ways to store and organize became a necessary skill too.

I am not a selfish crafter either- I love making things for others who I know will appreciate it, and enjoy teaching others how to make stuff too. Many people have convinced themselves over time that they are not “artistic” or “creative”, but that’s not true! I believe that with enough encouragement and the right instruction anyone can become a confident crafter and maker.

The best feeling for me is to start a project that requires very few supplies, finish it in a short time, and get to display it proudly. My favorite thing to hear is “you made that?!”- such an ego boost, I know! But it reaffirms why I craft- not only does it brings me joy, it also inspires those around me. That is why I am currently exploring ways to bring that joy and inspiration to my community, through creative classes and workshops. Stay tuned to hear more in future posts!

Why do you craft? I would love to hear your stories in the comments!

Re-thinking hand-me-downs: The ugly sofa conundrum

Ugly Sofa collage

Let me just start by saying: furniture is expensive! And there is no shame in using hand-me-down or previously owned furniture in your home when you are starting out. BUT- one thing you should ask yourself is- does it work? The answer to that question is entirely dependent on what you are looking to get out of your space.

For now, lets have a look at The Ugly Sofa. Its probably made of worn leather or patterned fabric, maybe you got it for $20 on Craigslist, maybe it was your dead great-aunt’s, or maybe you picked it up from the curb, or worse, maybe its a futon **shudder**.

The good news is- you have something to sit on! The bad news is- it looks like crap.
Consider yourself lucky if it has no rips, doesn’t smell like cat pee, and can stand multiple people sitting on it without caving in.

There are a few strategies to make an Ugly Sofa work for you. Which option, or combination of options, you choose is entirely up to your preference and personal taste.

1. Cover it up
Don’t get an actual slipcover those are pretty expensive. Think of things you may already have, or that you can get used/cheap: blanket, throw, large scarf, bed sheet, curtain, bedspread, etc. Make sure it is big enough to actually cover the monster and hang almost to the ground.
Patterns look best, as well as darker colors and textured materials, which take the focus off bumps and unevenness. Don’t have any of these options laying around? Visit your local thrift store to pick up something for a few dollars.
Try and tuck in the edges and contour it around individual cushions for the most flattering end result.
Now- its not going to look like all of a sudden your Ugly Sofa is a whole different color. But- for a quick fix, it cant be beat!

2. Fluff it up
Lets say your Ugly Sofa is not actually that bad, and is actually in ok condition. Lucky you! In this case, a few ‘fluff’ pieces can bring it back from the dead. Think: cushions, pillows, throws, etc. Now- don’t go out and splurge on expensive throw-cushions that might not even work with your next sofa. Instead, look for cushions in a standard size, that way covers can be changed with your mood. This part is fun- think about colors, patterns, and textures that you would never consider on a big scale, but that work in a small scale. My rule of thumb is no more than 2 pillows per sofa. Please see the following comfy-graph to illustrate the relationship between number of cushions and comfiness of sofa.

comfi-graph

3. Rock it
Now, this option only applies if your Ugly Sofa is more on the “ironically vintage” side of style. It could be a groovy 70’s floral print, a tweed that actually works with your walls and carpet, or leather that has that vibe of “I’m only worn out because rock bands used to chill on me in their rugged rehearsal studio”. Whatever it is, if you are actually not mad at it, let it inspire you. Maybe this is the jumping off point to define the whole tone of your room, or maybe it only takes one piece to pull it together to feel eclectic but cohesive. If it works for you, let it shine!

4. Replace it
Lets say you tried some of these options and your Ugly Sofa still looks like crap. Lets say it is so uncomfortable and so dangerous to sit on that it is time to move on. As I said before- furniture is expensive! So replacing an essential piece of furniture like a sofa can be a big investment. If you are absolutely sure that you refuse to let your Ugly Sofa stay in your space another second, then it is time to move on. Here are a few things to consider when buying a sofa, new or used:

Function: Do I use it mostly for TV watching? Entertaining? Reading? Will there be kids / pets involved? Does it need to be fort-able*? Does it need to have multi-functions ex. For sleepovers?

Style: Do you prefer fabric or leather? Specific colors / patterns? Corner vs. Loveseat? Big puffy recliner or sleek and modern lounger?

Budget: Can I get it used / second hand? Is there a lower cost alternative that can still meet my preferences above?

*Fort-able= can the individual cushions be taken apart to make a pillow fort?

Hopefully these tips help you re-think your Ugly Sofa, and spark your imagination for easy solutions.
Lesson– don’t be ungrateful for hand-me-downs, even if they are an Ugly Sofa. Instead, be inspired to make them work for you!

I love hearing Ugly Sofa stories. Here is one from me:

When we first moved out we got an Ikea futon with a denim slipcover as a hand-me-down from a generous neighbor. As grateful as we were for the additional seating, you can only imagine our excitement at the fact that it was a futon. And denim. So we set out to find solutions to make it work. I researched slipcovers online ($$$!) and then figured it would be easier to get a bedspread from Ikea to use as a cover (~$30), as it could be later re-used if we decide to switch it up. We got a dark brown one with textured stripes, and used some existing beige and brown silky pillows that came with a bedding set to fluff it up. It worked for about 2 years. Then we moved and decided to change it up, so we bought an actual slipcover for it (~$50) but dyed it grey, and used the same cushions, which still worked. That lasted about a year. We ended up replacing it with a much nicer sofa eventually, but for something that was free we sure got a good use out of it! Overall, we invested under $100 into that free sofa, and we made it work for us through 3 years and 2 apartments!

Got an Ugly Sofa story to share? Leave it in the comments!