The benefits of crafting to mental health are well known… indeed, as Mind’s Crafternoon on 5th December set out to show, it boosts self esteem, it creates positive neural pathways and it generally takes absolute concentration to learn and perform a craft.
Today is about considering what craft you’d like to learn in 2021 and setting the wheels in motion.
It takes 10,000 hours to master a craft fully. That’s a lot of time, and something you may not be able to achieve with every craft you take up. It takes a lot less time to become proficient enough to enjoy it, which may be all you need. It depends whether you find greater pleasure in having a wide range of interests and skills or whether the kudos of being an expert is something you’re happier with. Me, I’m a Jack of All Trades and Master of very few, but that’s my butterfly nature at work. I love starting things, and learning new skills but the mental stamina to apply myself and become the best just isn’t there. I’m a natural for taking a course, enjoying it, learning the basics quickly and then sitting at that level while others on the course practise, perfect and achieve a level of mastery I just don’t see necessary. I can appreciate the skill of other people without needing to achieve it myself.
Usually, I’d advise you to find a craft course nearby, especially if your intended craft is unusual, requires special equipment or has a considerable outlay before you can take it up. But this is 2020 and finding craft courses that are being held face to face is difficult to impossible. Even finding a friend or neighbour who does the craft and asking to sit alongside them to watch and learn is banned under Covid regulations in the UK. This year, you may have to find a craft that doesn’t need expert input or that can be learned from Youtube videos. I taught myself to crochet using Youtube and the excellent step by step tutorials from Attic 24, but some crafts are harder to learn without expert guidance.
So, what crafts interest you? Metalwork? Woodwork? Willow weaving, embroidery, cross stitch, tapestry, resin casting, stone painting, fimo modelling, photography or …. the possibilities are endless. My son and I are planning to go on a blacksmithing course as soon as Coronavirus regulations allow, but this year my new craft is a rather more home-based resin casting. I long to be able to make some earrings using glitter and shades that sing to me. As I said, in an ideal world I’d look to see if there were any courses available, but instead I’ll settle for a couple of cheap Amazon books, and the basic equipment: some resin, some moulds and some dyes. Wish me luck.
Try not to invest big in equipment until or unless you know you’ll enjoy the craft. I know that I will enjoy casting in resin, because I know it has enough decorative purposes to keep me happy. Resin coasters, for example, will be easy and effective makes for gifts this year. I also know that I have space and ventilation available to do the casting, either in the garage or on the back step, plus my annual budget always includes a sum set aside for a hibernation craft in January and February, so I’m happy with a small investment in equipment.
Finally, try and find a good source of experienced advice. Don’t necessarily look for experts to hang around with, unless you’re intending to become a master and start making money from it. Enthusiastic but skilfull amateurs are good: they have the knowledge and usually the patience and time to share what they have learned free of charge. Facebook groups can be great for this, or use word of mouth to find a local crafter.
Daily Read: The Benefits of Arts and Crafts. It’s a bit like teaching granny to suck eggs, telling a crafter why crafting is good for them, but if anyone out there is not a crafter already and wonders what they could get out of it… this article explains the benefits well.
Daily Book: Crafted: A Compendium of Crafts new, old and forgotten by Sally Coulthard. Basically, think of a craft and this book has a section on it, with the history and information on the craft. You won’t find instructions for how to do it here, but you will get an idea of the wide range of crafts available.
Self Care Act For Today: Take a few minutes to do something crafty. It could be a craft you already do, or a craft you want to do. It could be a simple one-off activity and finished today, or part of a larger, longterm craft. Just take the 30 minutes to sit and enjoy it. Not a crafter? Then read or write. Just do something that takes you off the Christmas treadmill.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.
Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.