I have always had, what I now embrace as, a “Magpie Mind”. I love making stuff and creating, but I never could find a “favourite” thing and stick with it always. For years I felt this meant I was a “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. I thought you had to be REALLY talented at one thing to be a proper grown up. I could sustain interest in just one thing for no more than around six months.
Then I read a book that struck a lot of chords with me: “The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One” by Margaret Lobenstine. It talked about it being okay to not choose just one thing and to embrace it. Something clicked and I became a bit more comfortable with me.
I like to think I’m like a Magpie who instead of collecting shiny things, collects crafts and skills.
#1 – I get to create lots of pretty (and sometimes useful) things!
Since leaving Loughborough University with a degree in Industrial Design I have been variously a Secondary School Design Technology Teacher, Manager, Shop Assistant and a Vetting Officer. I suppose the strand that runs through everything I do is that I love to learn and to combine a healthy streak of creativity with organisation and an appreciation of beauty, in no matter what form. Whilst studying I encountered the William Morris quote “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. That struck a chord with me and has stuck. I try to apply it to both my life and the things I make.
#2 – The variety is exciting and I get to try lots of new things.
I love the excitement that a new project brings. New skills to learn, new materials to work with, things to refine and polish. I like to finish things, although I have my fair share of UFO’s (unfinished objects) around and I have been known to go back to things and complete them years after starting them (see there is hope!)
#3 – Learning keeps my mind mind from stagnating – and it makes me happy that so many crafting resources are now so freely available.
In my opinion the internet opens up crafting and makes it accessible to a larger audience. I have learnt so much from blogs and YouTube videos that I want to pass on to others and it also means that if I forget a stitch or cannot remember where I saw an image I can go back to it and refresh my memory. For someone with varied interests it is a God-send. Yet another reason I am happy being a magpie, because the stress of remembering everything has gone!
#4 – The crafting community is awesome!
In September 2014 I was lucky enough to be selected as a volunteer at the first ever Handmade Fair. I spent three and a half days in heaven amongst fellow crafters and it really hit home how much I really believed in the fair’s mantra of “Everyone has a craft they can do”. The crafting world is friendly and supportive. I have met so many fascinating people whilst taking workshops and classes, many of whom I am still in touch with. I have learnt from the finest professionals and learnt from people of all ages and genders. There is a real sense of community and excitement in exploring a new craft. You would not believe the way that ideas and experience are shared and it all feeds into the atmosphere and end product. It is easy to stay engaged when that level of excitement is around!
#5 – The cross-pollination of skills.
The more things I try, the more I find that I use skill from other crafts in the new one and also in my everyday life. I find my approach is often slightly different from that of some people in the workshops I attend and lead. It empowers me when I realise that I have got the hang of drafting a pattern because I learnt about packaging design earlier in my history.
I find the same in the people I teach. Using approaches that are more familiar to them from recipes or office work they find something they can hold onto and build upon. This increases their confidence and lets them relax and enjoy!
I honestly think that I have go the best deal with the way that my mind works, even though it too me a long time to be happy with being a bit different!