Monday, January 19, 2009

You can!

I like to explore and think outside of the box. I think a lot of great crafting has been created in this way. Several of my craft projects involve repurposing or using materials in unconventional ways, and I find great satisfaction in that. Some of the best art I’ve seen follows this line of thinking (and no, I’m not talking about my own creations here!). More and more I find myself being told this is not okay. This even happens in craft shops, where one might expect to find an abundance of creativity.

”You can't use that fabric to make a blanket, it's supposed to be for a coat.”

“You can’t use that yarn to make a hat, it's supposed to be for socks.”

“ You can’t use that fabric to make gift bags, it's supposed to be sewn into a book.”

“You can’t use that paper to make cards, it’s for scrapbooking.”
Are just some of the things I have heard recently (thank goodness there is a huge craft community online that does not follow this way of thinking!).

Well, why can’t I?

Don’t get me wrong, patterns can be wonderful and very rewarding to make, but sometimes I need to channel that creative energy into something that is just me. I know I am not the only one who feels this way, I have seen it and I have read it many times over. Even with patterns, most often each one turns out a little differently. It's a good thing!

It scares me that my children will be born into a society where creativity and personal expression is not as valued as it should be. Where exploration and discovery is discouraged. I want my children to be able to explore and create in their own way, especially if that means using materials unconventionally. What greater learning experience? I remember during my very first field placement when I first began my courses for Early Childhood Education, we would fill the creative art center with many interesting materials and see what the children would come up with. The thought and creativity the children put into their work was incredible. Each had a very individual product with its own story, and specific reasons for each thing they did. It may not have made sense to us, but it did to them. They were so excited and proud of their work, much more so than if we had told them exactly what to make.

There is a time and a place for instruction. It can be wonderful to take an art class, or to teach children skills and techniques, which they can later apply to their own creative work, and it can be great to sit down and do a craft together. I just don't see why we should lose our own sense of creativity in the process.

A child can take a plain rectangular block and turn it into a myriad of things using just their imagination. How cool is that? I think more of us need to take our cue from this. We can!

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