Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From clutz to crafter

Most of my life I considered myself to be a clutz, with big, shaky, clumsy hands that couldn't do much.  In Grade 1, the teacher stood us on the school verandah in front of sheets of butcher's paper and told us to "paint".  I just stood staring at the blank sheet and longed to be back in the classroom reciting times tables.  In Grade 3, I dreaded our hand sewing lessons.  While my best friend was dexterously making a sampler in a wondrous array of stitches, I sat there twiddling the cotton around my fingers, hoping that the teacher wouldn't notice.

Towards the end of primary school, my domestic science teacher took me aside and, despairingly, asked "Why don't you like domestic science?"  My brain was too confused to know how to answer.  But now I know that it wasn't that I didn't like it.  I just had this deeply ingrained belief that I was hopeless at it.  I actually loved it ... the theory parts ... and wished I could be capably sewing and cooking with the rest of the girls.

I was in my 50's before I had a go at craft.  I took it up mainly because, I guess, I was tired of being a non-crafter.  And I wanted to try to use my hands.  I saw a Christmas decoration hanging in a department store, had a look at how it was made and went home and made it.  What a breakthrough!  From there, I bought a coping saw for $10 and started cutting out shapes in craftwood to make jewellery.

Then one day while walking my dog I met another dog owner, Joyce, who invited me to her monthly card-making group at her home just a couple of streets away.  I had never made a card in my life!  Anyhow, I went along.  What a wonderful group - Joyce, several octogenarian Catholic nuns, two other ladies and me (an agnostic).  They were amazing - so mind-active in their 80's.  I learnt teabag folding, which I loved ...

... and iris folding...

... and pyramage ...

... and punch art ...

... and all sorts of other things.

So, after a hesitant start, I was off and running.  And I found out that I wasn't as hopeless as I had thought.  I'm still a bit of a clutz and get glue and glitter EVERYWHERE!  But I'm no longer afraid to have a go.  And I even teach card-making (mainly teabag folding) myself now.

I do get a bit of a shock, though, when people say things like: "Oh, you're good at craft."  In my mind, I'm still that 5 year old standing on the school verandah not knowing what to do with a paint brush.

The next chapter in my craft adventure was an exciting one too.

I watched a demo of the Pazzles Inspiration electronic cutter at a papercraft show.  I was hooked, but like Georgie Girl, I just window-shopped, never stopping to buy.  My scissor skills were non-existent, so the idea of a machine that did it for me was too much.  But I just dreamed about buying one.

Several months later I went to another craft show where, again, there was a Pazzles stall.  This time I bit the bullet and bought a machine.  But I wasn't very well around that time and, to be honest, I was scared of it, so my Pazzles sat, box unopened, in a spare bedroom for two years. (Actually, I think it was three years, but I've been too embarrassed to admit it.)

Then one day I got some energy from somewhere and set up my machine. After a few hiccups at the beginning while I got used to blade depth and pressure for the different paper/card stock, I became an addict.

An instruction book comes with the Pazzles, but it is far from comprehensive.  If you want to learn how to use the machine well, watch KLO's CLASSROOM on the Pazzles Craft Room at  She is wonderful.  You can join live or watch archived recorded classes, and you don't need to be a craft room member.  I'm working my way through all of them.

I have been going to the Friends and Neighbours craft group at Greenslopes for a few years, where I have learnt intarsia woodwork ...
Most of the wood used to make these pieces came from
Reverse Garbage, Woolloongabba.
They sell industrial offcuts that would otherwise end up as land fill.
A lot of the card stock I use comes from there too.
... bobbin lace-making ...

Bobbin lace roller pillows for continuous lace can cost hundreds of dollars.  I made mine from bits and pieces lying around the house.

And I made my own bobbins from bamboo, dowel, gumnuts and beads.

Yes, I am frugal.
I get much more pleasure out of "make do"
than having big shiny new things.
My Pazzles purchase was well and truly out of character.

... and quilling

... book covering ...

... some needlework and beading (can't find my pics yet)

I also crochet and do a little bit of sewing. I learnt patchwork a few years ago, which, sadly, turned out to be one of Ruth Stoneley's last classes.

I wish I could tell my domestic science teacher that I didn't turn out to be such a failure after all.

Happy crafting

(Written in the hope that other clutzes like me won't give up.)


As I walk by the river or sit in my tiny garden, not thinking of anything in particular, thoughts sometimes seep into my brain. If you'd like to read my seepage, here it is ...