Where Does Craftiness Come From?

As creative people, we all have a craft. Something that we are passionate about. Something that we do because we need to as much as we want to.

that vintage wren earrings on etsy click image for more info

Your craft comes from somewhere.

We might all be born with an ability to craft, but what is it that encouraged us to find it? Was it family or friends. An attentive teacher or through sheer determination. Without that encouragement, would we have ever found it?

Mine comes from my family. It took me a long time to realize it though. I grew up in a house where things were always being made rather than bought. Inside our house clothes were sewn and toys were made.

I learned to use a sewing machine at seven. It was for entertainment and for necessity. New things are not always affordable on a humble budget.

In the shed tables were built, photo frames were constructed and bikes were re-assembled. There was very little that could not be made or fixed. The sound of the machinery is etched in my brain to this day.

Everyone was a maker in my family and I felt I was the weak link. It took me a long time to begin to create again as an adult; being the youngest, someone had always made that before and (often) done a better job. I assumed for the longest time that I was no good at craft. That wasn’t the truth, but just the way I saw it.

But now I can see it for what it was: a crafty upbringing. It gives me a perspective on the world that others take years to find. If I can’t find what I’m looking for I can create it. Be it shelves, or a bag, or piece of writing that expresses what needs to be said.

Craft is liberating. It puts you in charge of the outcome.

You get to decide how something looks. How it reads. How it will fit into your life. It’s not something that everyone gets to experience.

Through this column I’m going to explore where other people’s craftiness comes from; who influenced them and how craft has changed their lives. As well as digging deeper into the ideas of a crafty society and what it means for our future.

Will it reveal that my ideas on craftiness coming through the generations are true? I don’t know, but I’m excited to take this journey with you to find out. Where do you think your craftiness comes from?

15 thoughts on “Where Does Craftiness Come From?

  1. I come from a similar place, growing up in a family where everyone is talented can both foster creativity and inhibit it. For me it was not just my parents and siblings, but my aunts, cousins, grandparents, etc. I actually began making quilts because it was something noone else knew anything about.
    It has taken me a long time to step out of my mothers shadow and begin to sew clothes, from my brothers to draw, and so on.

  2. My family wasn’t particularly crafty; though it’s where I learned the very basic skills. My mother, aunt, and grandmother taught me a bit of knitting and needlework. I really liked it and over time either studied on my own, took classes, or met with like minded people to expand my skills; I still do to this day.

  3. I think our “craftiness” arises at different times in life depending upon our circumstances. Sometimes we suppress the craftiness for fear that it will be evaluated as something less since we are not spending money for affluence. In time I think we all arise to some level of craftiness.

  4. Hi Danielle,
    Thanks for this! It’s interesting to see that you too are emerging from the corporate world. Even thought I’ve worked as a designer for over fifteen years, it’s not until now that I feel like I’m finally discovering for my own visual ‘voice.’ That’s what I like about having a small, creative business; as you say; I get to decide how it looks (as opposed to having to visualize something aligned with a pre-determined style guide, etc.) That’s been really liberating, and fun!

  5. My craftiness is mostly self-driven… BUT. The open space to imagine & brainstorm paired with the freedom to figure things out on my own terms is because of my close family. I think that’s why i dig “the white space” so much and, often times frantically purge things to create more white space when I’m in a creative rut.

    Growing up as an only child, hanging with my grandparents a lot, I was bored. a lot. So i made my own fun with whatever I could find. Cardboard boxes, reams of paper from when my gram was a secretary, scraps of fabric from hemmed clothes, leftover paint, scrap wood in the garage with my gramps, and all the crayons & markers a little girl could receive from many MANY old relatives :)

    Turns out my mom was crafty too but put it all aside to raise me.
    The bad news is, without any “masters” to guide me, I always have this nagging little meanie in my head saying that anything i craft isn’t good enough because it’s basically a shot in the dark. The good news is I’m pretty awesome at thinking on my feet and finding unusual ways to troubleshoot things that people who have spent years training in their craft may not see as quickly.

    My biggest problem was making the leap to calling myself an artist or a crafter because of my lack of training but eagerness to try everything out there at least once. I’m an equal-opportunity crafter :)

  6. As a child my mother taught me to sew. She was always crafting or gardening or sewing or decorating a cake. She’s the one who taught me and encouraged me.

    But as a young adult I lost it…turned away from it…it was popular for women at that time. Then about 12 years ago I picked up the sewing again, learned something about quilting, do some “stitching” and haven’t looked back.

    I love that I can make things and it’s a way I really give myself to someone else. Now I’m looking at ways I can reuse or repurpose and am trying not to buy as many new things, rather, looking for something I can remake into my own.

  7. As a child my mother taught me to sew. She was always crafting or gardening or sewing or decorating a cake. She’s the one who taught me and encouraged me.

    But as a young adult I lost it…turned away from it…it was not popular for women at that time. Then about 12 years ago I picked up the sewing again, learned something about quilting, do some “stitching” and haven’t looked back.

    I love that I can make things and it’s a way I really give myself to someone else. Now I’m looking at ways I can reuse or repurpose and am trying not to buy as many new things, rather, looking for something I can remake into my own.

  8. From as far back as I can remember, I have been surrounded by crafty women! My Grandmother spent hours teaching me to knit and crochet, and my Mum is actually a milliner by trade. She was taught under Pat Ogilvie at 15! She has always privately sewn for people and bought me my first sewing machine – a Holly Hobbie – at 7yrs old! I have never looked back. I have since inherited many vintage items including hat blocks, a big old iron manual button coverer and flower making tools ( though I don’t know how to use those!). I have always loved craft and have made many things over the years. At the end of last year, after realising my love of op-shopping and upcycling, I started my own little business ‘Once I Was’ and now have a store on madeit! It will always be a part of my life and something I am now passing on to my own children!

  9. You have definitely hit the nail on the head with this post. It’s important for us to embrace DIY, not because it’s trendy right now, but because it’s really the only sustainable choice we have. But I also believe that this line of thinking needs to extend beyond our crafty community. How can we go about this? This is a question that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Any thoughts?

  10. i am so glad that some lovely friend directed me here this morning!
    i love this thinking…i came from a very similar family to yours…and felt that i was perhaps- whilst not lacking in *styling* talents…i was lacking in *creating* talents…
    that has all changed for me in the last few years…as i began to look at my attitude & understanding of myself better…
    my blog has helped me enormously…but i still feel like i need to fine tune it and really discover what i think is still there!
    we are an australian family of 5 who have moved to england to start up a few *waste- to-energy* plants so we totally believe in sustainability on the absolute front line…and in our home…
    so – i have signed up for your free course above and will be back again and again…

    many thanks
    melissa x

  11. Wow – So nice to see how you all grew up in varied families crafty or not and yet you still were drawn by your own motivations to become creators yourself!

    Certainly growing up, food was homemade, both mom and grandmother who lived with us were crafty with grandma refinishing furniture in her antique shop to showing me how to mix paint colors at age 5 or 6. My mom’s real joy was interior design and gardening. She saw trends before they became the new trend – she had some a serious sense of fashion.

    I so most attribute my love for crafting and creating from these two women whether it be creating new recipes on slow food cooking, gardening, creating art, sewing, etc.

    And yet, as a kid all I could be was embarrassed about the homemade bread I would take to school for lunch that held a boring cheese sandwich – but would be the toast of the cafeteria when my mom would send me off to school with hot dogs tied with string and placed inside a thermos and hot water. To have a warm lunch made up of a hot dog and ‘handmade’ ketchup packs made with wax paper and staples was truly a hit.

    And I have got to thank my mom for bringing me wonderful new art supplies in the middle of the summer for no particular reason but to have fresh new supplies.((thanks Mom!))

    I do not recall ever a time when I wasn’t crafty – but do remember months when I did not create but joyfully those months are behind me since allowing myself to be authentic to whom I am.

    And that story about the thermos and hotdogs? Well that was a most successful post written long ago on one of my recipe sites…

  12. I think my craftiness (and probably a lot of people’s) comes from natural curiosity as a child. As a kid, you’re so excited by anything you can accomplish or put your mark on or anything that you can call yours because everything in your life seems to belong to someone else.

    So I, for one, spent my childhood making things with whatever I found so that I could call something mine. My parents weren’t particularly creative. My older brother could draw but didn’t put any real passion into it. No one ever talked about how “the future” could incorporate craft or creativity of any sort. My future wasn’t inspired by the people in my life, but rather by my own need to put my name and my abilities on something.

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