8.01.2012

Who’s afraid of Random Acts of Craftiness?

This English teacher might be on summer vacation, but she’s about to go all educator-cheerleader on you. I hope you brought a pencil.

Because in case you felt like you were the only one who was nervous about the Random Acts of Craftiness challenge, please note that the following was the most frequently commented comment:

“I’m wetting my pants in fear, but I’ll do it!”

…or some less-descriptive variation of that. You get the point.

And though I don’t generally encourage violence, here’s what I want you to do:

punch fearSource

And here’s why.

First, three little words: innovation, inspiration, imitation. Okay, so those aren’t really little words. But let’s ponder the blogsosphere for just a few moments, shall we? Which one of those words would you use to describe the majority of crafty projects you see? I think we use the word “inspiration” a lot, but what we really mean is “imitation.” Don’t get me wrong: there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the fabulous idea of someone else and doing it ourselves. That’s why we all share ideas, isn’t it?

But at what point do we lose track of the fact that at one point, we were the one thinking of things on our own, using our own brains?

At what point do we lose the ability to look at wood chips and see meat for a wilderness stew, a coatrack and see an evil headmistress, a seatbelt in the car and see chewing gum? I could do all that. And so could you.

Blogs, the Internet, and sites like Pinterest are great—but not when the ideas they offer are taking the place of our own. Look at this challenge as an opportunity to do something innovative instead of imitative.

innovationSource

For this reason, I encourage you to not do an Internet search for the challenge item when you receive it. Seeing the work of others can often put up a mental roadblock to anything else that can possibly be done. I know this is true for me. You’ll find it freeing, I think, to not rely on the Internet.

2. Second, the random items I have in mind are random, yes, but they can actually be quite versatile IF you start training your eye and your brain to look at them in a new way. Please know that toothbrushes will not actually be making an appearance. (Sorry.)

toothbrush craft2

Here are two huge questions you can ask yourself if you are blankly staring at the random object as though it is some less-appealing version of roadkill.

A. What "normal" items in décor or crafting does it share similar properties with? (Appearance, size, weight, flexibility…)

B. How can it be changed so it no longer just looks like a random object? (Paint, paper, decoupage, glue, multiples, bending…)

Now, if I may: last night at dinner, I shared September’s challenge item with Rick. He had no ideas. Then I asked him those questions. And you know what? He came up with something. It even had the potential to be a cool something, and he was sort of even excited about it. Rick is a man of many talents, but he’ll be the first to admit to that creative crafting is not one of them.

So see? If Rick can do it, you can do it.Start looking at things around your house and asking yourself those questions. Seriously, start with toothbrushes. It sounds crazy, but it will stretch your eye and your brain. Look at this as warm-up time for the challenge itself.

3. Finally, nobody here is going to think less of you if your project doesn’t work out. I know personally that I will come visit your project and cheer you on for trying. Consider this quote about safety:

ship-in-the-harborSource

So true, right? (Don’t think about Pearl Harbor.) I’m really excited about the fact that we are all going to be examples to others that it IS possible in this project-accessible world to do new things all on our own, even if that means stepping out of our comfort zone. I know so many of you are doing just that, and I applaud you for it! Let’s let our innovation be an inspiration to others to do the same.

creativitySource

In sum, I’m a teacher at heart. I won’t apologize for that. Ask any one of my students and they will (begrudgingly) tell you that I don’t ever just give them an answer; rather, I’ll ask questions that get them thinking on their own. With their own brain. This almost always results in one of those light bulb moments where the student says (with masked excitement, though they’d rarely admit it) “Ohhhh I get it now!”…and leave feeling like they came up with the answer on their own.

Because they did.

It’s all about empowerment, people.

You can do this.

Go forth and have a light bulb moment.

lightbulb momentSource

Next up: a lesson on where not to place an apostrophe and the difference between “everyday” and “every day.” I hope you brought two pencils. ;)

27 comments :

  1. I'm in. This post convinced me. Sign me up!! I need some brain stretching exercises!!

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  2. love that ship quote!
    and i like to punch fear in the face. and anyone or anything else that crosses my path.

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  3. I was hoping your next lesson would include how to use this little guy ;

    I am still in, but breathing a little easier now...and I often find that some of my favorite posts are about the attempted and failed. So, even if my project doesn't work out, I am sure we can all have a good laugh about the process.

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  4. Well now I'm in with new resolve. Well said. I was actually thinking about an (unrelated) project the other day and stopped myself from searching for inspiration or a tutorial online so I could puzzle through it on my own, just as you suggest...So I guess I'm saying: Bring it on!

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    1. You go girl! Resist the power of the internet. ;)

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  5. sooooooooo -- Will Rick be a judge or contestant? And what kind of bribes will it take for him to spill the beans re September's challenge item?

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    1. Rick likes donuts, cookies, and bulk gummies. I’ll send you his work address. ;)

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    2. That's correct....I can be bought!

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  6. when do we get to find out? I'm so freaking out about this but I think I'll feel better once I know you didn't choose lotion or something.

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    1. hahaha lotion...I never thought of that. Thanks for the inspiration. ;) I was anticipating announcing it at the end of the month, but maybe I'll do it a bit sooner since it's the first one. :)

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    2. LOL Lotion... what a whomp whomp moment that would have been! Please don't choose that one!

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  7. I thought I was done with school. I hate school.

    But I am loving the project more and more. You are a genius with your guidance counselor ways.

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  8. STILL giggling at "don't think about Pearl Harbor." Hilarious.

    If I wasn't in yet, I would be SO SO in right now after reading this post.

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  9. Still in and very excited! I will try to resist the urge of the internet... it's just so sparkley and appealing sometimes!

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  10. I am even more pumped than when I first learned of this Possibly because there will be no toothbrushes (which would've caused everyone to hate me) but mostly because I love to craft!

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  11. Found your blog two days ago and feel compelled to join in the random acts of craftiness. I'm looking forward to the challenge (hopefully it will get me posting on my own blog more often). Also, check out the artist Keri Smith. She wrote "Wreck This Journal" and other art/let your creativity have free rein books. I think you might like her work.

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  12. I'm scared... but I'm also super excited for this! Bring it on!

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  13. First: Erin is not paying me to write this. Second: I AM the least creative person on the planet, and even I could come up with something to do with a mop head (oops did I say that out loud?).....Anyway, GET EXCITED PEOPLE, this is going to be fun, even for the "gifted and talented" like myself. If you're worried, remember, I'm Mr., excuse me, DR. Creative himself ;-)

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    Replies
    1. okay well now the cat's out of the bag on the mop head...better cross that one off the list.

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  14. i am wondering still what i am getting myself into! but i was a pretty creative and crafty girl in college so hopefully this will help my brain go back to those ways...i am excited to get started!!

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  15. Rachel8/01/2012

    I won't be entering myself into your contest but I might take a stab or two here and there. Be warned haha.

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  16. Not being all that imaginative, more of a copy catter than anything, still nervous. Now I see the item it could be and I'm scared to death. But so excited to be looking forward to this challenge!!

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  17. I can't wait to embrace this challenge...while chewing seat belt chewing gum.
    I hope Rick participates since he had a good idea!

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  18. I'm so excited!! I love that you mentioned not to browse the internet before we come up with ideas! Now for the first random item...oh the suspense!

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  19. Ever since you mentioned those tooth brushes I've been thinking about what I could do with them. So funny. Thanks for the tips on how to approach this challenge. I love the idea of thinking for myself since I have been following the trends lately. BTW, what is the difference between every day and everyday?

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    1. haha “everyday” is an adjective meaning “regular” or “ordinary” as in “My everyday clothes are nothing special.” You would use every day” to describe how often something was done, as in “I wear my everyday clothes every day, except on holidays.” ;)

      There’s a Walmart commercial on right now that misuses “everyday” and has the little girl holding a sign that says something like “We have low prices everyday.” I notice this because I am a dork. :P

      :)

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