Crafting - a sure gain!

These days, we need to be wise in spending less, and saving more. In my experience, I realized that we can gain a lot from saving.  My method involves the 3Rs. But rather Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; my method is Redesign, Remake and then Reuse.  How is this possible?  The answer is crafting.

Love for crafting is not for all.  For those who are passionate about it, there is a never ending benefit from crafting. What provides for my pocket money is my career; which concerns computer, software support and requires “fix the problem as soon as possible” approach.  I  joined the IT industry since I started my University year 1988.  Three days after graduation, I became a programmer and progressed to System Analyst and Designer.  After four years, my career in IT industry made a little turn towards to digital and production printing.  Then that is it.  I am stuck in digital printing, which I think is one of the good things in my life. Many would think that printing is as simple as getting a cup of coffee. Sometimes I hope this was the case, but not, and this what makes my work interesting.  From printing text by connecting dots to printing a gorgeous images of billions of dots; from black and white to full color; and getting ten full color pages of a4 size paper out in one minute to at least hundred pages in a minute; the technology of printing is still advancing. This means learning is never ending.  There so many things about it, I could be so busy with.

However, there comes the time in our lives that we have to change our priorities. I have given motherhood the highest value in terms of importance in my life.  My work career is now second. The schedule of a mother and wife is erratic because, in this profession the timetable is run by the family schedule.  It is dictated by home management (this is cooking, cleaning the house, laundry, shopping, paper works paying the bills, etc.). The only way to make most of the distributed free time in a parent’s schedule, is to do something useful in flexible times that will involve less spending.  So I decided to craft with what I can find from home before rushing to buy; which now is a practice that is helping me in saving more.

My passion for making things started when I was seven.  My mother was a dressmaker.  She earns most of her money by sewing clothes for kids in a factory.  She also get paid for sewing clothes, curtains or beddings for her customers who are fanatic of her work.  I am the fortunate fan of hers.  She sews my school uniform and dresses to fit me, for free.  

At very early age I watched her many times as she sew her creation. As her old  motor driven sewing machine roars in putting the pieces of cloth together to take the shape of a dress,  I was unaware that I was learning the craft that she specialized on.  Finally one Good Friday, she let me use her fancy machine (that was when I was ten) to put the pieces of cloth I cut to make it a blouse and skirt for my fifteen inch tall doll.  I am so pleased when I finished. It fits my doll beautifully.  This has started my love for creating useful things for myself.  After two years, I was able to wear the old trousers (with the materials is still in its finest stage) of my mother's and my father's that I alter to fit my size.

As I grow and up, crafting had saved me money.  And it is saving me a lot more while living here in United Kingdom.  I find independence of being able to create something to what I exactly want and not relying on other people to supply it. These skills are treasures that is best to flaunt forever, and passing it to the next generation only gives more benefit. It is like inheritance to our children that has no tax; riches that can't be robbed for those who practice. It can be a business with huge profit that requires minimal capital if the entrepreneurs knows to explore the resourceful tactics in production; and by doing so we can protect the environment in massive scale as another 3Rs is practice: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Crafting always comes with a treat. We learn as we make; and we get excited as we created new things. There is satisfaction when we finished, or even eureka moments when able to succeed over the challenge of creating a product, like the inventors. I could go on, and on in my list of benefits. But I think it is better for me to go back making.  

When my son was five, I made a castle for him to apply paper-mache so he could paint it as part of his play.  He enjoyed this very much.  It is a start to get him interested in making things.  And every time, he plays with his castle, he remembered how much he enjoyed crafting.

Love for craft does not appear in us as a spur of a moment. It is more likely, an inspiration, that jump-start our brains to start thinking the need to make. Crafting is not about the product.  Crafting is about the need for purpose to make; that start us start thinking about the process and define the materials as we keep a picture or the essence of the object that we want to achieve or create. Have you ever wondered, what started you in making something?...

Why am I asking? What for?

Because it might help define the importance of crafting for you, and if you are a parent, you might want to pass this motivation and knowledge to your child. Just like what I discovered from my past: My parents are unaware of the huge benefit that I am gaining from it. By making, I am saving time from not searching. I am saving money for being resourceful. I feel gratified, free and independent from not relying on people to make and, or supply what I need. I am successful every time I finished my creation and able to use it according to my design - "I got what I want!" That is why I love crafting!

The more I think how much I benefit and still gaining from crafting, the more I want to show my child how good to learn few tricks in life that will help him in the future, when things he go for is getting scarce (getting a job that pays to buy his luxuries), all he needs to do is to look around, and see how amazing his surroundings when he can put things together to create. It may not be the luxury item he wants for the current time, but it is sure to have the correct specification he defined for less cost.

Sample projects

Love is blind. Now I know how blind this could be. August 2010, I finished my son’s castle. It is made up of cardboard boxes, plastic containers with grit to weight it down, garden strings to hold the walls, and painted thin soft wrapping paper mache to give the old effect. I only spend five pounds on garden string and glue. The rest of materials, we already have. I got the cardboard boxes from the office before they had thrown it away. Inside the wall are plastic containers with grit from the garden. He is just four years old when he enjoyed painting the walls of this castle as his way in participating in making it. The rest was my work. It took me months to finish the five walls, five towers, the castle and stairs. Yes, it is made out of my love for my son showing him how love can create and teach the value of making. One nice thing about crafting, it guarantees success. You only fail if you stop making something halfway.

Now he is seven, and still playing with it. The gate had come off and so as the door of the basement. But rather being upset, he is happy that he knows he has the chance to work on his castle, to repair or customize it to what he wants. He also knows mummy will not hesitate to help and to get the materials he needs, for they are more likely free, until we have to buy a new material.

After we had our house extended (that increase its size to 80% more), the additional space required furnishing. I furnished our home with safest things for a growing boy and decorations. Little things needs storage so I used crafting to my advantate.  I made customized storage boxes out of cardboard, gaffa tape, old curtains and old fleece for flower decoration  .

Making something from old materials you could find in your home is sure gain; because you don’t have to buy anything and that means it will cost you nothing.

The curtains as shown in the picture is sewn to be the box cover, the cloth cover adds strength to the box and made it prettier. This clever cover takes the height of the box you made.  Before sewing any cloth, check if this runs or shrinks when wash by washing it.  The flower design is my favourite material.  I like fleece cloths. It does not lose it shape and it does not fade like cotton. But it goes bubbly and other fibers clings on it as it worn out during its used.  These days, fleece materials has anti-pile feature that makes the fleece less bubbly.  But my red-orange tope doe not have anti-pile, because it is an old and very much worn shirt; and still, it has its shape and bright colour in shabby look with fluffs clinging to it. To overcome this, I cut it to small pieces of petal shape and hand sewn this to the boxes as my hobby when I do long travel by car during holidays.

Then I dressed the boxes. The boxes has to be made first, so measurement for the cover can be taken.  As shown, the box is covered by gaffa tape.  The gaffa tape are very strong tape and will hold cardboard box sides together; but it must go around it to make the box strong. If the box is still too big to go through the case (like 5mm max) bigger, hammer the side of the edges (gently as you wound on a nail) to squash it a bit. Bind with gaffa tape to compress it.  If you want to have a stronger box, add another cardboard on the inside side of the box, attached by double adhesive tape.

TIP: If you are thinking of project that will need a lot of gaffa tape, you might want to buy this in bulk from an ebay supplier; as it is cheaper this way.

Is there anything you have been wanting to make? Go on have a go. Enjoy making!