Creative or Crafty: ‘puh TAY toh, puh TA toh’


I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t making or thinking about making something. As a kid, I copied things, then I read about making things, eventually I modified things I saw, now I write patterns and teach. I learned to be creative from someone else with a dash of me at different stages of my life. My mother encouraged me to some extent, but she didn’t truly understand my need to create things.

I began creating early, about age 8, but I didn’t devote myself to it until my first year of college; when I realized that my allowance wouldn’t stretch very far. College life is expensive! So, I began thinking about getting a job. However, destiny got ahead of me.

In November, I was at Michael’s getting a few more details for a stocking that I was finishing for a friend. While there, a customer saw the stocking and asked if I would sell it to her. I immediately stood up and said, “Yes!” and told her that I took orders for stockings until the week after finals. This was all made up on the spot because I never thought someone would want my handmade items. She paid me and placed an order for two more. At the time, selling hand crafted items was by word of mouth. When I delivered the other two stockings, she had a large envelope for me. In it was her payment and a few more orders from some of her friends. From that day on, I was busy going to class and rushing home to work on the orders.

On my drive home for Christmas break, I thought about how successful this season was and what it would take to sell other items throughout the year. That’s when I began to understand that there was a difference between crafty and creative. Please don’t take me for a snob, but there is a real difference. Being crafty requires a lot of the same skills as being creative but the outcomes are different.

CRAFTY: Temporary, made from inexpensive materials and easily disposable.

CREATIVE: A person with an ability that builds on years of experience to create items that are not made by machines. Each handcrafted item is different and takes a lot of time. Also, creatives can only make when inspired, they cannot be forced to produce.

Those of you who have spent years refining your skills know what it took to get to where you are now. For example, cross stitch seems easy until you’ve stabbed linen thousands of times and made at least 100 color changes. It takes time, effort and no two samplers are ever alike.

We all start out as crafters until we find something that really interests us. That’s when we begin our journey toward becoming “creatives.” Many of us have had the same interest(s) for decades and we are still learning; continuing to improve. We need to challenge ourselves to try new things that develop our skills, that inspire us to create new items, and most importantly share what we’ve learned with others. I enjoy inspiring others by starting them out with a new craft, while I keep busy by learning from creative masters who like to share their skills.

That is my inspiration for every stitch. I hope this column serves to inspire you to start a new craft or develop the skills you have already.


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