I can count the number of things that I love on one hand. Books, reading, sleeping, brilliantly executed entertainment made up of a small number of bands, movies and TV shows I could not do without. The things I like or have dabbled in however, I do not have enough fingers or toes to keep track. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of things that I probably should know about, but have failed to pursue learning.
Living this life of dabbling has lead me to be a kind of serial hobbyist. Leaving me with a set of skills that I am no where near to mastering, but maybe know enough to get by, if I had to. Take my sewing ability for example. Besides a couple classes I took as a kid, the kind where you make a pencil case then get bored with the whole thing and forget everything you may have learned, I have no training. I have known people who have been proficient in this area and have had the opportunity to watch them at work. Giving me the chance to pick up a few things along the way. Then in my own projects, using what I have observed then just making up the rest as I go and hoping it all turns out OK in the end.
Growing up my Mum encouraged creativity of all kinds. For example I never had store bought Halloween costumes, they were always homemade and usually crafted from things we had around the house. My Mum burnt the end of a cork to draw a beard on me when I wanted to be a pirate. She covered a small rubber ball with tin foil to make a crystal ball for me to see the future, we glued red sequins to old shoes so I could have “ruby slippers.” The possibilities were endless all we needed was to look around and use a bit of imagination. This always made Halloween special to me. I loved being able to come up with an idea and then try and work out how to execute it with what we had or could make. As I’ve got older I’ve spent countless hours on some of my costumes. They range from sewing individual ivy leaves onto a body suit or constructing a full length faux fur coat.
As a child I started building Barbie furniture using scrap fabric, cotton batting, a glue gun and boxes or containers headed for recycling. Endless amounts of couches, tables, chairs were born, giving my dolls enough items furnish their “pool house.” It even had a TV made from a box, cut out comic strips (in colour of course, no black and white TV’s for those ladies) and plastic wrap to make a screen, keep the comics in place and make the strips interchangeable.
Once I started realizing the creative possibilities all around me, I was hooked and it’s never gone away. As I’ve gotten older it’s been harder to find the time for these kinds of undertakings. So I put off the creative itch as long as I can until I get an idea that will only stop nagging me once it takes physical form. This process usually involves project binging until its complete and only then can I take a little breather.
It has been a long running semi-serious joke that my two career aspirations are magician’s assistant and 50’s housewife. I wouldn’t be hired for either job. I’m sure I would have stage fright and I’m seriously lacking in the “housewife” skills department. I can’t throw a diner party, cook, garden, or properly sew a dress. Things to aspire to. Traditional lady skills aside, the list of things I don’t know how to do gets even longer and was made more apparent after buying a house. Do I know how to cut a lawn, turn on a snow blower, use an actual coffee maker, make a meal, or re-paint a deck? Now maybe I don’t need to know the answers to all or any of these, but will I lose something by not finding out.
Years of jumping from projects of various whims has left a bit of a void where I feel like I don’t really excel at any one skill. Except for maybe sleeping, I think I’ve got that one pretty much cornered. With this in mind I see the next evolution of my serial hobbyism to focus on refining and expanding my skills. Especially anything that can help me as a home owner and make me feel a little more adult.
There is something both satisfying and nerve-wracking about unveiling a project you’ve made yourself. Some of the things I want to learn make me nervous and they may succeed or fail in spectacular ways. In the end at least I can say that I gave it my best effort, even if I end up making it up as I go along.
Join me and let’s see what we can make.