Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Things You Can Make If You Suck At Making Things.

photo by flowertrip
Maybe it's just the throes of winter but I've been talking to a lot of people lately that want to 'make something' but they're not sure what to make or where to start.  Generally, they come up with something that's sort of an extension of their job.  They tell me that they'll maybe just 'fix their resume' or 'go to an exercise class'.  Ummm.... that's a horrible cop out and I hate to state the obvious but you're not actually making anything by doing that.  
I get it, it's hard to make something that even pros mess up sometimes and it's really disappointing when you throw your whole self into a project only to have it become a testament to your inability to make things.
Short Example:  My first cooking experiment about a year and a half ago which started with a difficult recipe translated from Spanish, an $80 trip to Whole Foods, and ended with a Turtle Sundae, tears, and a kitchen that never entirely recovered. 
So if you're not an Etsy knitting queen or a super artist yet where should you begin?  First, don't think about it like you're going to create something amazing for over the dining room table.  Think of it like 'I'm going to make something that will take a few hours and I will finish it'.  You might throw this thing away.  That's perfectly ok.  Here are some ideas of easy things:

Create a room to be your perfect space - This is really fun because you can research all of the great interior design blogs for ideas.  Apartment Therapy and Desire To Inspire are two of my favorites.  Once you pick one out you can set out to make small changes to copy it.  Example, I loved this green kitchen so I created some of its flavor in mine by repainting a bookcase and turning it into a spice rack.  See?

go to an antique place and get something ugly - like the above bookcase.  Or the frames we got from the antique flea market that were something like $3.  Just get something cheap and wooden so that you start learning how to sand things down and repaint them.  You can't put your own style onto anything until you have the basic skills down.  Also, you'd be surprised at how zen it can be just sanding some ugly thing down and repainting it. 
make a headboard - We have no headboard and it completely drives me nuts until I realized there's an incredibly easy fix for that.  ANYTHING flat can serve as a headboard.  Check this one out below.  All I have to do is scavenge some boards and put them together. 

make the perfect meal - By that I do NOT mean that you should choose the MOST DIFFICULT thing you can find and make it.  Most people I know make the same 5 or 6 things all the time so just trying a few new things can satisfy some of your creative juices.  Try my favorite site Tastespotting for ideas. 
pillows - Two pieces of fabric sewn together around batting.   It really doesn't get much easier than that and the cool thing about it is you get to find fabrics that are exactly your style (and hopefully not too expensive).  Make two and put them on the couch and viola!  You've made something.

The truth is, the first projects you have are going to probably turn out sort of ugly.  You can't be expected to have a good idea of good resurfacing finds, good paint colors, good headboard ideas, etc. until you try it a few times so go easy on yourself when you first start.  Good luck!


Anonymous kate mats said...

I love this post -- really great ideas.

Another one to add to your list - take close up digital photos of different textures (in colors that you like and compliment your space) and then print them as 8x10s prints, or prints on canvas. Even non-artisitic people can do this pretty well and it makes for interesting, modern, and inexpensive decor!

January 13, 2010 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger aurora said...

as a person who sucks at making things, I would add:

for some people, it might cause less anxiety if you ease yourself into it by starting with something that feels like you're being creative when you're not. e.g. coloring in a picture (or paint by numbers =D) before actually painting your own thing. reorganizing your room in a practical way before redecorating it. and so on.

it's just a way of tricking yourself into the artistic habit. as long as it eventually leads you to something you're proud of, it's not a cop-out, just part of the process. =)

great post!

January 14, 2010 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Kate - that's another good one! I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive but cool looking wall art.

Aurora - Totally true, I think just the act of starting to make time for creating will get you closer to your dream art projects.

January 14, 2010 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Royce said...

Kate that is a great suggestion which I am going to steal. Thanks!

C-Mac - on behalf of your male readers, let me congratulate you on an excellent photo choice for this post.

One thing I want to try to make are like, matte frames for my own digital photos. You know the kind you see where it is basically just a backing, and then the photo seems to hang in space? Seems like that would be easy to self-make.

A suggestion for an easy but exciting meal / appetizer - we made a brie with brown sugar and pomegranate plate the other night. It's exactly what it sounds like, it's easy, and it's delicious. And it looks cool. Although it's also very rich.

January 15, 2010 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Rebecca ♥ said...

Caitlin, this is such an awesome post! I was hoping for a Sunday project, so I just may refurbish an old bookcase, and make it either a spice/plate rack or something of that nature. Or make that paella recipe I've always been tempted to try (and even bought a paella pan for!).

And Royce, the brie concoction sounds amazing.

January 15, 2010 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I don't know. I am WAY craft challenged, but am dying for new throw pillows. Dare I try?

January 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Kristin - yes yes! you should try, if you end up making pillows send me a pic and I'll post them :)

January 18, 2010 at 7:50 AM  

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