Purposeful crafting and thoughtful gifting

Crafts are a big part of my life. The long list of DIYs on my Pinterest board motivates me to keep going so I can one day get to them. At the same time, caring for the Earth is a priority. Crafts use some resources that are harmful to the environment, such as glitter and plastic. 

In keeping with the idea of taking only what you need and being good stewards of the Earth, here are some ways I’m thinking about crafting purposefully. 

Purpose

Full disclosure: I love crafts for the process, but I’m still figuring out what to do with the finished products. As I’m writing this, I realized that I have it backward.

The thing is, you can craft anything you want. Rather than make then think of where it goes, begin with the end in mind. What am I creating this for? It’s so tempting to look at all the DIY ideas and want to make them all. Screening questions before I decide to make:

Where does it belong? 

What purpose does it serve? 

Who am I going to give this to?

People have been crafting since forever, so crafts do have a purpose. A few ideas from brainstorming and DIY blogs tell me that people make crafts to:

  • Pass down a skill like pottery and weaving
  • Remember an event or person
  • Celebrate holidays and traditions
  • Exchange and build community
  • Use in the home for decor or other functions

Crafting purposefully doesn’t mean that you can’t make things for fun. Objects can be meaningful and fun. Look at Carl and Ellie’s house in Up — every knickknack is personal. Their belongings speak to the relationship they had, who they are, and what mattered most to them. I’m taking Carl and Ellie as one inspiration for crafting with purpose. 

Relate

I think we can all get behind thoughtful gifting. Everyone has limited bandwidth, space and budget. We want to give gifts that people are actually going to use. It can be tangible things or experiences, pricey or budget, and DIY or store-bought. (Honestly, a gift card is always welcome!)

The Good Trade, a blog about shopping thoughtfully,  has some great ideas for DIY gifts. These ones really stood out to me:

  • Offer your skills & talents: There is something you are really good at, whether it’s making phone calls, referring doctors, organizing or cooking one particular dish. You can offer your friends a session of one of these services. Remember coupon books? A grown up version would be much appreciated.
  • Use what you have: Going back to being thrifty and good to the environment, it’s always a great idea to use what you have. Plan your budget, think simple, and make multiples of the same thing. 
  • Make or write something personal: A handwritten letter, photo print and symbols to a shared experience go a long way. It’s more meaningful because it can only come from you. 

Work in progress

When I look at the zero waste lifestyle, it’s inspiring but also makes me feel so far from living that way. I become aware of how much waste I create and it can be discouraging to make more things that honestly, might end up in the trash.

But a quick glance at DIY gift ideas shows that handmade gifts don’t have to end up in the trash. The beauty of crafting and eco-friendly hacks is that there’s a way to make everything from bath & cleaning products, to coupons & cards,  to food & drinks, yourself. (I’m a big fan of giving consumables! Treats will ever go to waste.)

“Choose something to make that you wouldn’t mind making over and over. I definitely wanted to make something functional that a wide range of people could use.”

Crafting itself is about being imperfect and practicing anyway. Let’s celebrate the fact that our crafts and gift-giving practices are works in progress, and it can get closer to being zero waste without being there now.

If you are on Etsy, favorite my shop to see what I’m making. When you’re pinched for time, what gifts do you like to give? 

Polymer clay sculpting is for everyone

I’ve been collecting Re-ment, or miniatures since 2006. Miniatures are adorable and they fact that they come as sets  just makes me want to collect ALL of them! I never thought about making my own miniatures until this year when I got into polymer clay. It’s a super popular material among DIY bloggers & here is why!

Benefits of polymer clay 

Polymer clay is great because it’s so tactile and versatile. (Have you ever played with slime?) There are not a lot of chances to play with textures, and polymer clay can fix that. When you get it from the package, it is kind of brittle and oily. After kneading it, it becomes malleable and you can make it into anything your heart desires. 

WHY POLYMER CLAY IS SO AWESOME:

  • It helps with drawing. All figurines are made with basic shapes like spheres, cones, cylinders and cubes. Drawing is the same! (You can try sketching your figurines 😄)
  • You can bake it in a toaster or regular oven at home. There’s no need to go to a studio.
  • You can paint and decorate it anyway you want, after baking.
  • It’s dry and mess-free. It may stain a little, but overall it’s easy to clean up. 
  • Like paint, you can mix colors or even create ombre / gradient effects.
  • It takes texture really well – stamp or roll materials onto it for patterns. 

What I’ve Made

Klutz has a great series of Mini Erasers kits, where you make Mini Animals, Fantasy Creatures, Aliens and Sweets! It is how I learned to work with eraser clay and now I am addicted. 

The erasers / miniatures come out adorable and are reminiscent of the Re-Ment. Once you learn the basic shops and composition, you can start getting creative. Create your own animals, donuts, cupcakes, aliens and pizza by following “recipes.” 

When you feel ready to add more details, you can make really adorable swirls, sprinkles and patterns to make your creations more realistic.

Applications 

The possibilities with polymer clay are limitless. Some of the easiest ideas to start with? Some ideas from one of my favorite DIY blogs, Fish and Bull

  • Ornaments: Stamp shapes out of a sheet of clay, then roll textures on to it.
  • Dishes: Cut out a circle, mold it in a bowl, bake, and paint!
  • Planters: You can make pinch pots, geometric, or honestly any form you like.
  • Mobiles: Evil eye, moon phases, rainbows, and animals, to name a few themes!
  • Jewelry: No one is going to be able to tell that it’s NOT polymer clay.

Try polymer clay for sculpting experience you can have at home. All you need is an oven and clay.