Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Handmade Christmas

One of the most rewarding things that I did this year was to make stockings for my new sisters-in-law. They were a delight to make and I had the most gratifying experience when I sat in the living room of my mom's house, reading a book, and out of the corner of my ear, I heard Kimberly say in a soft, surprised and incredulous voice, "I have a stocking." It's enough to make a girl tear up a little bit just typing it.

What was also gratifying was that I made these stockings almost entirely from elements that I had either bought on clearance and saved until I needed them or that I had gathered from resale stores and garage sales.

I keep a giant box of these types of things and sometimes I berate myself just a little since I use them so rarely.

When I was first making jewelry, the bead store I worked at was closing. I realized that I would not be able to design through trial and error any more since I would have to buy everything I needed for the project up front and figure out how it would all go together once I got home. This is not ideal. How do I really know when standing in a fluorescent-lit aisle at a craft store how the combinations of individually packaged beads will look once I put them together? So, I bought as many "staples" as I could from Philomena, using the going-out-of-business discount in addition to my employee discount. I'm still using a lot of those beads to this day.

Right before I left to move to Orcas Island, I bought a clearance book at Borders that was shiny turquoise and purported to show me how to make new kitschy things out of garbage. This re-use philosophy was part of my romanticized vision of what my life would be like. However, when I unpacked the book and really looked through it, it was full of projects that used already kitschy things to make uber-kitschy things. I had experienced before that kitschy things are hard to find in the moment that you want them. Like beads, you must cultivate a collection to draw from when the design bug bites.

Thus, the box. And thus, the stockings. Perfect handmade holiday.

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