I’ve been daydreaming about how to help get the maker juices flowing, whether it’s after a creative drought or as a way to get exposed to the possibility of making if you’re a person who’s never considered themselves particularly creative. Creativity is a roller coaster ride, where inspiration ebbs and flows – getting on the damn thing is a necessary step in the right direction. So let’s get on:
Hang out on the floor with a kid and a giant box of Legos
This is cool to do by yourself, too, but only a kid is going to demand that you build things that defy physics (and perhaps ethics). I promise you a kid is going to stretch your imagination and force you to see the Legos in a completely new light. And you should meet each challenge with enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. A stiff drink helps.
I have made the most insane things because buying the ready-made equivalent was financially impossible: wedding dresses, upholstery, cashmere blend stuff, slacks, duck confit, those rad Mad Hatter lantern lights that are like a million dollars a foot. Some of it even turned out okay. Necessity is the mother of all invention – but broke-assedness is the grandmother of making shit yourself.
Get caught up in one-upmanship
I was part of a lunchtime knitting circle at my government job where we mostly tried to push the outer limits of getting paid to do anything other than work. Like Parks and Rec, only at a university. I was screwing around with lace patterns for a scarf for my mom because I like to torture myself by putting a ton of effort into creating things for her that she will end up donating to the Salvation Army. Suddenly, my knitting circle mate is totes into lace. Naturally, my next project had to be lace with beads. By the time I quit my job there, I had mastered nupps, but my coworker had hand knit a doll for one of my children and crocheted the most intricate and fabulous receiving blanket I have ever seen, on Instagram or in real life, for my other child. I am clearly the double-winner here. Collecting skills and handcrafted schwag? Haha! I sure showed that foolish coworker, with her insane yarn budget and unlimited child-free time…
Make friends with a maker
I have these friends who made their son’s crib with a portable CNC milling machine. It’s really cool looking, like one of those designer minimalist cribs you see in Apartment Therapy articles about people that live in Brooklyn. It packs flat for storage and travel and assembles with no hardware. Because it’s an origami miracle clearly crafted from yeti tears and unicorn hooves. And when he grew out of the crib, they made his toddler bed the same way. What the fuck am I doing with my life? I am obviously a complete waste of flesh and oxygen. I can barely get food into my own face without incident. Anyway, it has occurred to me that I might make it through these feelings of worthlessness in my friends’ company by getting my shit together and making more things. I’ve done nothing about it. But I thought it. And I bet it would work.
Get sort of over-the-top obsessed with something
I live in a verified Beer Town. It’s getting a bit ridiculous. Which I am more than fine with. Because I LOVE. love. beer. Beer abounds here. You can get a craft stout at the gas station in the shittiest part of town. And frequently, it’s sort of cheap (relatively speaking. People in Not Beer Towns would throw their Michelob Ultra in my face for saying that). There is no reason to make your own beer. But I have (if you count being present during all stages of making beer as “making beer”). And I did this because I not only love drinking beer, but I also got curious about what beer is, how it’s made, what makes different beers different, and the crazy ass history of beer. I took a beer tasting course. I hung out with home brewers. It led to wanting to brew. I’ll probably brew again. And maybe this time I’ll even be the one measuring out the ingredients, following the recipe, and doing the brewing part. Or maybe I’ll just watch while I drink a beer that’s already been brewed. Haven’t decided yet.
Bonus: Make do, for now…
I am in a season of life that isn’t entirely supportive of undertaking the complex projects that I used to love getting immersed in. But early parenthood has taught me that when you are finally gifted the space and time to get something done, you’d better have a plan in place to seize the opportunity, or you’ll burn through your free time by emotional-plowing a tray of Oreos while perched on the edge of the sofa guilt-watching Housewives of Scranton. Or, worse, doing things you can totally do with sort-of-little-not-so-littles around, like laundry or vacuuming (moms of little tots: in a year to 18-months, you’ll be able to fold laundry and vacuum without losing your goddamn mind. Sincerely, The Future.). Consider the points above and see if any of them might draw out your inner maker. Even if you aren’t actively making, sometimes the meandering path to creativity is enough to tide you over until you enter a phase of life where you can finally set down some roots of concentration and dedicated time, and get to making already.