Last week I posted on our IG feed about being a jack of all craft. It was a momentary thought as I was tooling around in the shop. But the thought has stuck with me all week. I come from a long line of crafty ladies who made and make out of necessity and out of desire. My BFA thesis was about the concept of maintaining a creative identity in the midst of domesticity. I gave a talk recently about the creative self to a group of newish moms. All this thought about the creative self has got me all worked up about the maker identity.
Before I opened the shop, I was an art teacher and a painter for ten years and before that, I was making installation art, hanging out in galleries and sewing handbags. In my childhood, I was that kid that made her own clothes and gave no you-know-whats about what people thought of my creative flair. Arts programs in high school kept me sane and busy and happy.
I like making things with my hands. I like finding out how to make things with my hands maybe even more than I do the finished product. I like making things with other people. The act of making is my jam. I even wrote my master's thesis on the benefits of arts education on at-risk kids and it's implications on language development and overall intelligence. So what?
Right now, I am sitting in a climbing gym with my Birkenstocks firmly attached to my feet as I write this feeling semi sorry for myself that I didn't decide to be really into fitness and open a climbing gym (it seems like they do well and everyone is so fit!).
So here's the point. I still like climbing. I might not be very good at it. I might get better, I might not. I might only spend and hour or two every other week messing around on the wall with my kids. I fall and I probably look ridiculous. It's totally fine. It doesn't have to be your life's work to be enjoyable. You don't have to be great. You don't even have to be good. The same goes for making things with your hands.
We tell kids all the time that failure is an option. I have stacks of failed projects, paintings, knitting, who knows how many failed ceramics projects and more woodworking blunders than I'd like to admit. It's all fine. No one cares as much as you do about your terrible knot tying skills or your inability to draw a straight line.
There are two parts of making that are in large part, what makes us human. Creative expression happens in all cultures. Utilitarian objects will eventually be adorned, designed, styled. We'll make beauty for ceremony and occasion. It's just what we do. The second, is that making is a social experience. From the workshops of the age of enlightenment to women's quilting circles of the deep south down to my old, leaky art room. Making together makes us better makers. Failing in front of others is not so easy to do but that too, might just make you a better person. So let's make stuff, together.