In Your Words: Making Matters, More than Ever
April 15, 2020
By CRAFTSMANSHIP EDITORS
As part of our Spring issue theme, “Sheltering at Home Creatively”, we asked our Craftsmanship community to tell us: How has the coronavirus crisis affected your life and livelihood? Has it changed your values or priorities? Taken your creativity in new directions? Have you acquired any new maker/DIY skills, or put your existing skills to work in a new way?
We’re featuring some of our favorite responses, thus far, here on our blog; more will come in the weeks ahead. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more reader stories — or tag us to share one of your own!
Greg Miller, owner and instructor, The Joy of Wood (Perth, Western Australia)
“We lost ALL of our face-to-face work with people of all ages, from 6 to 96: public and private workshop programs, woodworking activities for kids and families at festivals and other community events, therapeutic woodworking for kids with special needs, and for people with acquired brain injuries and other mental health issues. All of these various activities have stopped due to social distancing and isolation. The ceasing of therapeutic woodworking is particularly sad for us and our clients. Life for me is very challenging now, as we are having to totally change direction.
I had previously seen myself as a bit of a digital Luddite, and have been on a huge learning curve making video clips for our YouTube channel. I am also having to learn how to be a retailer of tools and wood. We are now offering free instructional videos on YouTube, and selling tools and wood on our Etsy shop. We specialize in teaching children, so are about to start offering kits and videos specifically for all those children who are locked down in their homes, with the parents trying to homeschool. These are new ways for me to offer creative possibilities for people to make things using their hands, when they have so much time on their hands. All of these new approaches are momentous for us! Such massive change….”
Linda Lee, retired (Sandy, Utah)
“Even before the virus, I knew we were destroying our environment in the name of commerce. So I began doing sustainable things, like growing a food forest, trying to buy less and less, reducing my carbon footprint, and giving back to nature. Since my passions are cooking and baking, I’ve developed my knowledge of Chinese cookery. Also, finding improvements in sourdough bread-baking and diving into all the cookbooks I own. I’ve also placed greater importance on the garden, and trying to grow as much as possible this year.”
John Littel, guitar maker, Littel Guitars (Ellensburg, Washington)
“I’ve been fortunate to have uninterrupted days in the shop, and several new guitars have appeared! My volunteer work has taken a new turn as well. I have been volunteering as a carpenter and project manager for a nonprofit construction company, building a school in Haiti. Unfortunately, we’ve had to shut that project down for now. But I’m volunteering for a new organization. With a team that includes architects and engineers, we are creating open-source plans and specifications for rapid-build health clinics for communities with limited resources… the quarantine has raised our level of compassion for others, and for each of us in our family. I am more focused on intentional kindness and care. We are all in this together, and I remind myself of that every day.”
Stacey McRae, curator, The Lebel (Alberta, Canada)
“I work for a small, nonprofit arts council that focuses on children’s arts programming in and out of schools, as well as curating our local gallery, shop, and community spaces, and running events. We work at an old mansion turned art center called The Lebel Mansion. Since all of our programming and work in the schools has had to stop, I am working from home, developing at-home art projects with roots in the Alberta Curriculum and moving beyond it.
We are now offering a weekly newsletter with free lesson plans on the website, and continuing to show creative ways to engage with your kids at home. We make sure the materials are things we can find around the house, and we have guidelines for different ages — from the really littles to adults. I am trying to make and find quality content to share with our community that can take advantage of the fact the we are home and we do have the time to concentrate on process and experimentation.”
Elke Lemmens, owner, Hausgemacht mobile craft workshops (Antwerp, Belgium)
“I had a lot of ateliers/workshops planned all over Flanders in the next weeks and months. Due to COVID-19, they obviously can’t take place. At first, I was sad not to be able to reach people in this very strange time. For many of us, it is a time with a lot of worries and anxieties. I believe now more than ever, people need to get out of their heads. And I believe there is no better remedy than working with your hands, making things. So I decided, if I can’t go to people now, I’ll have to make it possible for them to teach them themselves. So I created DIY boxes of different crafts with tutorials, now sold online. I’ve had a lot of good reactions to them already and feel happy to have inspired a lot of people.”
Tib Shaw, curator & crafts photographer, AAW Gallery (St. Paul, Minnesota)
“Although my freelance work has dried up, my full-time work continues apace, just from home. I am appreciating the human connection more than I ever have, and consciously making room for object-making each day. From connecting with others via Zoom, I’m realizing how important that face-to-face feeling is — sounds odd, but the informality and accessibility of those conversations has provided a deeper connection to the humans behind the objects and ideas. Figuring out how to strengthen the connections between our maker members and the public has been stimulating, even though I also feel at times entirely inadequate.
I’m not a professional or skilled maker, but I committed to doing a carved sample pattern a day, and it has provided structure, moments of flow, pleasure, and a beautiful sense of discovery. Watching my box of 31 pieces of plain basswood empty and my shelf fill keeps time for me in this strange neverland of sheltering-in-place.”
Please tell us what kinds of creative projects you’re pursuing during the Covid-19 crisis. You can even share photos and videos of what you’re doing here. We’ll publish the best on our site and social media channels over the coming weeks.