I love the definition of crafting: the activity or hobby of making decorative articles by hand. Yet the actual act of creating articles or crafting I find often to be intimidating, overwhelming, and sometimes downright uninspiring. Which is odd since my family is the “First Family” of crafting, dating back to the early 1940s.
My grandmother Aleene Jackson was the founder of Aleene’s Tacky Glue; ya know that gold bottle that is still found on shelves today and rivals with Elmer’s glue. (And no, my grandmother did not make glue from horses, god at least I hope not!). My great grandfather Jackson, Aleene’s dad, was the inventor of Styrofoam fabrication. The list of genetic crafting genius continues with my mother Heidi–the queen of designing amazing things, a seamstress, and devoted crafter–and my Aunt Tiffany–a painter and creator of many beautiful things. My family held the first top rated DIY show to ever air on TNN, “Creative Living”. I was not only raised on the set but was even a guest a handful of times. I pretty much learned how to walk by stumbling around my mom’s crafting studio and store.
I remember traveling with my grandmother to craft shows, playing Legos on the office floor of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. I think Betty White was somewhere in my childhood as well. Martha Stewart definitely walked past me at our booth a few times in my childhood, dang that woman knows how to get her craft on but then again so does my mom! I was hired at age 7 or 8 to run a booth for the glue company. I learned at a very young age how to stop people in the aisles and talk to them, and also to not sit down in a booth, probably because my grandmother wouldn’t allow chairs. All the lessons I learned about being an entrepreneur, I mostly learned from my grandmother Aleene.
But let me tell you, it was no picnic.
Growing up I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment being motivated through fear. Today I am grateful for that struggle–the working after school and in the summers when my friends were hanging out at the beach. They unbottling tanning lotion, while I was bottling glue. This was before OSHA and child labor laws were really enforced, so my pay was snacks and meals. LOL. It sounds so bad as a I type it, but really it was all I knew at the time and I think I turned out pretty good.
I remember days when my grandmother would come into the main office where I was stuffing envelopes, throw a newspaper down in front or me or a magazine and say, “Get me in here”. I didn’t know any better, so I just did it. I’m pretty sure this shaped my no fear of rejection approach to life as an adult. Many people in my life have expressed envy of my risk taking, no fear, go get ‘em entrepreneurial mindset. It wasn’t easy. I had to suffer for it…but I must admit it is really cool having this “in my DNA”. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
So what happened when it comes to actual crafting? Did I just not get the crafty gene?! Was I adopted and never told? I mean, I have tried to craft over the years. I’ve collaged, which I actually enjoyed but never created anything memorable. Mosaicing is fun, but I have too many handmade stepping stones in the yard already. Knitting…ummm no. Sewing, forget it. My mother tried to teach me, she really did, I probably wasn’t a very good student.
I was all set to never have anything to do with crafting of any sort. It didn’t like me and I felt the same about it. But then something happened. I discovered I was becoming a grandmother, a young glamma at the age of 46. An epiphany exploded within me because here’s what I do know about crafting, things that I observed this from being raised in the industry. Crafting not only teaches patience, it opens imaginations, allows self-expression, and it brings people together. My own children spent many hours in my mother’s studio, and to this day I believe their music talents, their imaginations, and their haute businesses (my daughter Savannah’s beautifully curated company- Haute Sugar Co.) are all a direct result of their studio time with grandma Heidi. I’d like to say I played some role in these gifts but truly, I can’t glue two pieces of paper together or draw a stick figure.
I am making a commitment on this very day to jump back into this intimidating endeavor to create a crafty sanctuary in my home for my soon-to-be born first grandchild. My commitment doesn’t mean that I’m headed over to Michael’s Crafts to load up my car with shiny things, although that alone sounds like fun. I don’t want to create stuff just to fill walls. I want to teach my grandbaby, and myself for that matter, how to sew our own clothes. I also want to teach textures, painting with our hands, being messy (sorry OCD, you will have to scoot over for this). Most importantly how to be environmentally friendly with everything we make and do. My generation has pretty much screwed up the planet (okay, my parent’s generation played a part too), now it will be up to Generation Z and millennials to turn the tide. We must teach them, let them explore, create, and solve. I believe that this all comes from and starts with crafting. I have seen the benefits in my kids, and a few have surfaced in me as well.
One positive that I can take from my crafting experience to date is that I turn to my mom’s studio when I’m feeling anxious or I need a mental break. Crafting is somewhat like meditating for me, when I really enter the craft zone, watch out! I recently decided to start a mosaic, an art piece for our entry way (see picture) so that I can get my crafty feet wet again. I am also currently searching the best starter or beginner sewing machines. I need to find one that will be the best for me and for my patience level, which on a scale of 1-10, 10 being terribly impatient, I’m probably a 10.5. So here I go, down the crafting path. Time will tell if I will be grateful for my crafting upbringing or enrolling my granddaughter in local sewing classes. Patience, Lolli, patience.