When I walked in to the Jo-Ann Fabrics store last week to pick up some thread, I was greeted by colorful displays proclaiming March as National Craft Month. As a devoted life-long crafter, this is a celebration I'm happy to join.
My fascination with crafts began long ago. In my early years, I was inspired by my mom, who prided herself in "re-purposing" many would-be cast-offs. The results were consistently useful as well as attractive. Her creativity routinely amazed our neighbors, gaining mom a local reputation as a crafty lady.
When I was 12, I spent several summer vacation weeks with my grandmother, Ida, and great Aunt Rose. Since they had little stamina for planning energetic activities to interest a pre-teen, they supplied me with several embroidery projects and taught me the fine art of creative stitchery. I still have the colorful pillowcase I embroidered that summer, under the watchful eyes of my two elderly relatives.
During my teen years, I became fascinated with both crochet and knitting. After completing a few small items, I decided to knit myself a soft, grey sweater. As I recall, I managed to finish one sleeve before other interests intruded. I happily passed the project on to someone with greater determination.
A few years later, as a young bride, I came across a magnificent pattern for a delicate crocheted bedspread. When I bought the impressive supply of thread needed for the project, I assured my stunned hubby that I had every intention of finishing this challenging undertaking. I predicted it would become a family heirloom.
Three years passed and I finally completed enough squares of the lovely pattern to make a dresser scarf for our bedroom. The remainder of the thread, which I had grown less than fond of, was donated to the church rummage sale.
Then there was my quilting period. After a few small undertakings, I started what would be a wedding quilt for daughter Sherri and her soon-to-be-husband, Jack. Although the quilt project was abandoned, I did manage to give them a pillow made from the quilt pattern for their fifth wedding anniversary.
Through the years since the abandoned bed spread debacle and the quilt-to-pillow downsizing, I've undertaken a number of other crafts. And, I'm happy to say, I've stayed with each one - more or less - over time.
Thanks to my gifted neighbor, Sally the artist, I learned the basics of sketching. I still have sketchpads and pencils at the ready when the drawing muse hits.
Another craft that has brought me great joy and fulfillment is woodcarving. In the beginning, I tried my hand at carving birds, animals and Santas. But I finally found my favorite niche with chip carving. This interesting technique is fast and easy and the results are stunning. My efforts culminated in a chip-carved clock which holds a place of honor on our living room wall.
My carving equipment and books are carefully stored away, waiting for me to rediscover the joys of that craft.
But, of all the crafts I've enjoyed, my favorite will always be pressed flower art, a form of creativity that originated ages ago in the orient.
I've made countless bookmarks, note cards, sun catchers, framed pictures and other items using specially-pressed plant materials. The beauty of these creations comes not from any great talent on my part, but from the glory of Mother Nature. I'm simply in partnership with nature to showcase the beauty around us.
Now that National Craft Month is here, maybe it's time to drag out the sketchpads and pencils, or the wood carving supplies, or the flower presses. I'm beginning to feel that old creative itch.