Saturday, February 2, 2008

Giving Back

As a crafter over the years, I have been fortunate not to depend financially on what I’ve created. I have done my share of craft shows and have sold items on eBay and in my etsy shop, so it’s not that I have given everything away. But I have reached a point in my life that I feel that I need to give back.

Throughout most of my fifty-two years, my mother and my art instructors (most of them) have shared everything they’ve learned about creating various crafts or artwork, Granted the college professors and high school art teachers were paid to do this, but I remember my high school art teacher who consistently showed up for the summer crafting sessions at our local park when it was just me or one other student for lessons. I learned more about technique from her than from all of the college art courses I took.

There is an unlimited amount of knowledge and instruction on the internet for crafters to utilize, both free and for a price. I don’t begrudge those who charge for their original designs. On the contrary, if I had more original ideas for design, I might try to set up a website such as Cindy Trombley’s precious painting website or one of the gourd design sites.

I have been inspired, however, by such websites as that of Isela Phelps (http://isela.typepad.com/ or http://www.decoraccentsinc.com), who offers free video clips for loom knitters. When I began knitting, I used looms (and still do occasionally). Her videos, offered fro free, taught me invaluable tips for reading loom knitting patterns and more stitches than just the e-wrap. Knitting help (http://www.knittinghelp.com) also shows free videos for different stitches for traditional knitting and purling as well as sock knitting techniques. There is also http://www.knittingatknoon.com/demos.html which has helped me tremendously in figuring out the knitting of the socks mysteries.

Another intriguing website is www.instructables.com which I’ve shared craft recipes lately. This was started by a bunch of MIT professors and associates to offer everything from crafts to food recipes to mechanical devices. It’s all free and fascinating to see the creativity that is being offered to anyone who has the time to browse.

I know this sounds extremely geeky, but the warm feelings that I get browsing through all of these websites reminds me of watching Star Trek, The Next Generation. In that idyllic world, no one “had” to work for a living, although most seemed to choose to find their passion whether it was for art or “seeking out new worlds.” Knowledge appeared to be for the taking if you were willing to put in the effort. It is inspiring that at least in the cyber world, those kinds of opportunities are becoming more available to those who put in the effort to find them.

Watching the Democratic debate last Thursday night between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I was again inspired by their messages about what we can do for others. Not everyone is wealthy; I certainly am not. But I can offer help in my own way to those who can’t afford to purchase patterns or instruction or can’t pay the base fee plus materials asked in the major craft supply stores.

I never realized the interest in crafts in younger people to be as extensive as it is until I offered two craft clubs this year. I now have 70 members between my knitting and painting clubs in a school of less than 400 students. I get more positive feedback teaching these kids for free than I ever did teaching at a local craft store for pay.

If you are a crafter or artist, and can share with others what you know, you are doing the world a huge favor. Wars cannot be fought when one is busy creating, rather than destroying. People find common interests in art, not differences. I feel the recent trend can only have positive results in the long run. The time will come when someone to whom you have reached out will in turn reach out to others. Let’s create this web of giving and sharing to strengthen and empower our world.

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