Crafting Survival Tips

The previous year has reminded many of us Crafty-types that getting crafty and making something new is an awesome way to blow off some steam, to meditate, and to feel connected to a spirit of creation. At the same time, the previous year may also have limited resources the resources that we have available. Many of us scrambled to find new ways to be creative and desperate times call for desperate measures. If you are still looking for ways to make something and express your artistic side, the following suggestions might be your personal key to survival!

Decoupage something, anything!

This time is great for the purging of junk and getting organized for when things return to a regular pace. This also makes it a great time for you to sort through old magazines, books, or anything with pages and pictures in order to hunt for awesome ephemera pieces that you can use in your next crafty masterpiece. If you have an old cigar box, a chest of drawers, even an unused picture frame, you could easily modify it or just punch up your style a little bit. Try this: take an old cigar box or something of similar size that is made out of wood (that is preferred but you can us any medium you like). Give it a light sanding with whatever sandpaper you might have lying around to clean it up a little. Then select old newspapers, maps from an out-of-date encyclopedia, or even sketches you might have drawn yourself, and begin to design how you might like to see them laid out. To keep the exterior of the piece the same, you can always enhance only the interior and leave your artwork as something to be discovered. Then use whatever decoupage method you prefer, with glue or Mod Podge or whatever you have handy, and start apply pieces. Do not focus on getting it right, because it is all a matter of your taste and what you think looks good. Happy accidents ARE a thing, so just embrace them. If you have a couple of metal bobs or other ornaments, you can affix them to the exterior for some extra flair. Now you have a swanky new dice box or photo box that is way more than just the sum of its parts.

No printer, no problem!

If you do not have a working printer and do not have a resource available from , then you can still get things printed from places like Kinko’s or FedEx Office at fairly reasonable prices. I recently had a project I wanted printed, with cardstock covers, a plastic coil binding, and 10 sheets printed for less than $8. For a professional looking print, this was a good deal. The idea here is that you can go back through any of your previous work and create new documents for anything you can think of. Hosting an upcoming RPG session and you want to create physical handouts or maps? You can easily find the tools or maps you need online. Maybe you have been whittling away at a short story or a series of poems that you would like to have printed out in a nice format to sit on your shelf or to be shared with others. You could also have labels and supplementary ephemera printed out for your other crafty projects. Once decided, you will then need to edit and size everything accordingly, then create an order. A couple of days later, your creations will be ready for pick up, or you can choose to pay a little more for shipping. The reason I really like the option of picking them up myself is that they will show you the product before you leave, in case they made a mistake. If the error is theirs, they will fix it for you, oftentimes right on the spot! There is something special about having printed word on paper that makes my crafty side feel awesome!

Let’s get SMALL!

As I discussed in my Crafting In The Workplace blog, you can support the crafty side of your brain in numerous and unexpected ways. You do not need to tackle a big project or have a resource heavy crafting session in order to scratch this itch. By thinking small, you eliminate the time and space wasters that prevent you from actually rolling up your sleeves and creating. I find that painting miniatures is very fun, very zen, and can be very rewarding. While I focus on 28mm table top roleplaying game figures, you can find all sorts of model cars, trains, fairy figurines, war miniatures, and so much more! At the beginning of the pandemic, some of your local craft store paint was hard to find, but much of it has now come back in stock so you have lots of options to choose from. Then again, you can use whatever you have at home, even if it is not recommended for you choice of medium, because the journey and the process are some of the most fun. Of course, you can also find tutorials online, especially on YouTube, where artists can give you their input on the best ways to layer and highlight your pieces. Once you begin to hone this talent, you will have even more fun with color theory, choosing unique miniatures to paint, and producing pieces of higher and higher quality.

Take a hike, bud!

Lastly, this one goes out to my writers and my Dungeon Masters and my authors! Are your mental resources low and you cannot find much inspiration in this time of quarantine? The solution may be much simpler than you think. I suggest you get your keister outside, somewhere with as much nature as you can find, and to take a short walk. Take all the necessary precautions that you need, but if you can find an isolated area to stroll about, then I highly recommend that you do so. Now is a phenomenal time to get outside of your old headspace, which can often bind the imagination, and to allow nature to inspire future adventures! The fresh air and the exercise alone are good for you, but it is the change in environment that is going to supercharge your mind. Then as you are walking, you will see places and create new perspectives that can inform whatever it is that you plan on writing about next. The bee’s nest in the tree, the rushing river, even the outcropping of large rocks that you see along the way… all of these are fantastic imagery fodder that you can take back with you to your writing desk and beyond.

When it is all said and done, you can always find a way to soothe that part of your mind that needs to be creative, if you are crafty about being crafty! As necessity is the mother of invention, many of the crafts that we enjoy today have been made more fun due to the innovative minds of crafters who came before us. So, as you try to survive these difficult times and still be the creative person that you enjoy being, remember these three concepts.

  • Think outside the box – Don’t let the old way of doing something keep you from trying it a new way.

  • Work with what you have – You can go really far with much less than you think.

  • Do not be afraid to fail – Be afraid not to try.

Be safe out there. Keep building, crafting and creating until we see each other next time!