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:
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.
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.)
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:
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.
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.
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. ;)