Yeah, I'm crafty
I've never done things quite like everyone else. When kids dressed up as pumpkins for Halloween, I dressed up as kitchen appliances. Most kids wanted to grow up to be doctors and teachers, and I wanted to be a hermit. While many were heading to college after high school, I went to South Africa to live with monkeys. I've always been intelligent and hard working, but I only managed to get through a college degree with the luck that I found a wonderfully alternative and free spirited school. Now that I'm an adult and watching many of my friends go on the common path of settling into jobs and getting married and planning families, I'm finding that again, what is “common” is not at all for me, so I'm on the search for what IS going to work for me.
I'm recognizing in myself some of my other talents that have been ignored for a while, and diving back in to my craftiness. I grew up surrounded by art and creativity, but somehow throughout the hustle and bustle of growing up, the science part of my brain became the driving force of my life and career. But I've never stopped loving when I have late nights spent on creating elaborate gifts for friends or working on a household building project.
In my blog I hope to share with you fun DIY projects, recommendations of books/movies, occasional adorable pet updates, and anything else that nudges its way in. Check out my store for new products and feel free to contact me if you would like to request a unique customized creation!
what is "common" is not at all for me
I have never liked right angles. While this has at times been an issue living with “type A” roommates critiquing my picture hanging skills, I think it has helped in my art. It has taken me a long time to accept that I can actually create pieces I'm proud of. I grew up amongst incredible painters, drawers, photographers, and sculptors. While as I child I had a great time dabbling in all of those areas, I never took to any in a way that I did not constantly compare my work to those around me. I have always known that I am crafty and artistic in my own right, creating elaborate gifts for friends, painting murals on my bedroom walls, splatter painting the halls of the house, but I have never felt confident enough in any medium to just start creating. Making stencils, sewing, and collage are always fall-backs for me. They allow me to create products I am envisioning without needing to rely on my own artistic skill. I can focus on the strengths I have – design and construction. As I continue into adulthood and dealing with increasing daily anxieties, I have been searching for something to give my brain some sort of relief and returned to art. This time I didn't let myself get caught up on drawing a person or a cat, and instead went straight to the things I know I am good at: working with shapes and colors.
I like to be resourceful in everything I make. My very first job was as an art teacher at a creative theater camp. My colleague and I always joked that we should write a book “101 things to make out of a pizza box” and realistically, we very much could have. Almost every costume I made as a child was from a used cardboard box, and that theme of reusing (and frugality) has continued into everything I make.
I spent time living in a part of South Africa where many people survive off of others “trash”. There was no need for a formal recycling program in that area as the dumps were picked clean of reusable materials by people looking for cardboard to build homes or soda bottles to carry water. While I would never wish that level of poverty on anyone, there is something admirable about the innovation of what people were able to create.
I often incorporate re-purposed materials, not only out of necessity (it's no secret that there is not big money in anything I've ever done) but also I enjoying exploring the versatility of different objects. In my years as a young art teacher, we would frequently make excursions to a hardware store over a craft store, and much more easily identified things as “octopus legs” rather than “sewage drain”. I continue to have these excursions and have more than once had to have the awkward moment with an employee explaining that I’m not actually using PVC pipes for plumbing, but rather for an enormous ferret jungle gym.
The other side of craftiness
While creativity has always been a huge part of my life, academically and professionally I have many years of working with animals. I have a degree in Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behavior and have spent time in South Africa, Belize, and Madagascar doing wildlife rehabilitation and release and behavioral research. In the states, I've worked doing native wildlife rehab and have spent years working in animal shelters. If you are curious about that aspect of my life, feel free to read more about my experience and work on my petsitting site.