Questionable advice from a craft hobbyist: don’t pick up crafting, ever

Or go ahead at your own risk, but don’t say no one’s ever warned you about what lies ahead…

I don’t mean to sounds overly dramatic, but do you know what you’re in for when you start on a crafting hobby? One hell of a rollercoaster ride, that’s what.

Hold the eye-rolling; hear this casual crafter’s reflections out.

Reflection #1: Crafting is a lot like quicksand.

A gorgeous Studio Ghibli inspired No-Face resin shaker charm that I am in absolute awe of.

It’s an innocuous-looking trap. First, you get entranced by the possibility of creating beautiful, awesome things. So you either enrol for a class or two or bravely go solo with the help of a few books and YouTube tutorials. Sounds fun, right?

Wrong, so wrong. Unless you’re a born crafter with Arachne-level talent or some form of prior experience, you’ll be fumbling around a lot. All your dreams and visions just don’t want to come to life.

And not as cutely as this pup, either.

That’s what happened to me a few months ago, at any rate, when I went to my first resin-on-acrylic workshop. I reaffirmed my ineptitude at working with acrylic then, snapping the saw’s wire due to incorrect sawing technique and managing 3 jagged pieces to others’ 6. The colours I mixed and dripped onto the acrylic didn’t match what I’d envisioned at all, too.

At one point during that workshop, this exchange took place:

Me: Your pieces look pretty!  I like the colours (of the resin)!

Fellow workshop participant: Thanks! You were working on a heart just now, right?

Me: *sweats and stares at pieces, definitely no hearts in any shape or form*

I remember leaving the workshop feeling really disheartened.

Looks nice, don’t you think?

Haha, nope.

Things could go two ways after fumbling: you either /rage quit/ in frustration because crafting is way harder than you anticipated or… get addicted to trying again and getting better. So addicted, thoughts about what to make next, or half-completed crafts, threaten to take over all your brain space. All. The. Time.

You don’t know yet but that’s the first sign of danger, my friend. Crafting has started to unleash a magnetic pull on you. The opportunity to tinker around and potentially create something wonderful is simply too alluring to resist. Much like that annoying ear worm that refuses to go away until you listen to the whole song, the urge to craft will return again and again and again. In fact, some folks have sunk so deep into the crafting quicksand that they’ve gone on and made it a full-time pursuit, like local stamp-maker ParadeMade and clay miniaturist handxmade.

Me? I went and signed up for another resin workshop the following month. I’m also looking at trying crochet. What can I say? Crafting has me firmly in its jaws. It’ll hold me hostage for life.

Another of my (many) imperfect resin pieces. This is a ship’s steering wheel that has one less spoke.

Reflection #2: (Crafting) Hobbies are a labour of love and commitment

 You’re investing an important resource when you start a hobby: time.

All the lovely pottery, clay earrings, amigurumis, and hand-drawn stickers you see on Instagram or Etsy?  They came from years of hard-work and prototyping and continuous learning. To not give up halfway or commit time to improve your craft, in today’s busy world, takes a lot of discipline—especially when you can fail to produce something satisfactory nine times out of ten. Hear it from a crafter herself:

I posed this question to instagram account @poroful a while back.

Nothing in life comes easy. Making stylish yet functional things doesn’t come easy.

If you can’t accept that your time might not amount to your envisioned outcomes in the near future, don’t pick up crafting…because crafting also involves money. Want more details on a keychain? You’ll need to buy more cabochons or charms—and ain’t nobody out there selling them per piece for cheap. You’d have to buy a few at once. Want a quality crocheted bag that doesn’t disintegrate after a few uses? You’d have to buy quality yarn. Want more colours? You’ll need even more yarn. The costs add up.

How do you say no to such gorgeous things??

I’ve probably spent enough on my craft pursuits over the last two years to fund at least 3 short vacations (think Bali/Batam/Bangkok), and that’s probably a conservative amount. I also spend a lot more time than I should scrolling store pages and evaluating if I’ll really use this pretty tassel or glitter. Sometimes, pragmatism loses out to craft supply hoarding. It’s gotten way better, though.

So don’t become a casual crafter or—heaven forbid!—a serious one. Prepare to kiss a lot of time and money goodbye if you do. Just sayin’.

Reflection #3: Pins and needles, pricks and tingles

Sometimes, all the care in the world can’t prevent accidents from happening. If you haven’t worked with epoxy resin before, it’s ridiculously sticky and cures really strong. I’ve had to snip away sections of my hair that accidentally came into contact with resin, and I’ve also found specks of resin on the arms of my chair, my table…let’s not talk about spilling glitter or pigment. Other crafts will have their own unique problems, of course.

Can’t take mess? Awful with cleaning up?  Crafting and you will not be BFFs.

If all this does not faze you?

You’re brave, I applaud your courage! Here’s the moment I talk about the good stuff.

While waiting for your efforts to bear fruit (aka beautiful handmade items), crafting does gift you unexpected things in return. Crafting—or any kind of creative work, for that matter—has the right amount of challenge to help you enter what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls the ‘flow’ state, which has effects similar to meditation. In this state of total immersion, the world around you vanishes; the repetitive motions (carving, knitting, and so on) help calm our overloaded nervous system to give it a break.  Need to wind down from a very hectic day? Crafting would be perfect.

You’ll also end up the ability to hand-make gifts for your loved ones, too, which is always a plus!

 Gave some of these away, I did.

So, pick up a craft hobby if you dare. I’ll see you on the dark side.

*This is an ode to crafting. Really.

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