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From origami to hama beading and macramé
When isolation seems overwhelming and a little too much, it’s time to turn to the drawing board (literally) for creative ideas to pass the time. Yes, you could organise your spice rack or your shoe cupboard; and yes, you could also get stuck into the spare room declutter job that you’ve been putting off since 2018. Or, you could try something equally worthwhile that doesn’t immediately fill you with dread, instead.
Why not adopt a new hobby and immerse yourself in the rather wonderful world of craft? No, not just for kids; crafting has had a bit of a revamp in recent years, with research from Drexel University finding that 45 minutes of creativity can reduce stress hormones in the body. There’s a whole world of crafters making, creating and sharing their masterpieces on Instagram: the #makersgonnamake hashtag alone has 8,798,531 posts, alongside other popular craft tags like #memade, #makersofinstagram and #createmakeshare.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, crafting is “the activity or hobby of making decorative articles by hand”, encompassing anything from scrapbooking, to macramé, to upcycling old household items into trendy new ones. So roll your sleeves up and get the glue out: the time has come for some therapeutic DIY.
“With each project you learn something new. There’s no end to the crafts you can try; it’s all quite addictive and freeing,” shares craft influencer Hannah Read-Baldrey (@couturecraft).
Plus, she adds that crafting can be the perfect soothing influence after a long, stressful day. “Spending time making something – using your hands to knit, fold, mould or draw – is incredibly calming. It’s a mindful meditation where you are fully in the present, focussed only on the next stitch or mark. Anything that takes you away from the stresses of everyday life for a little while is beneficial.”
DIY expert Erica (@psimadethis) agrees. “Using your hands to create something brand new feels amazing; there’s this unbelievable sense of accomplishment when you finish a project. Whether you’re a child or an adult, I’d encourage you to make things – trust me, it will bring so much joy to your life. Especially now.”
Everyone’s talking about colouring in, knitting and painting, but what about hama beading, decoupage and ballooning? Keep reading for eleven craft ideas you might not have considered before – and happy crafting.
Start with something easier
“Don’t take on more than you can handle at first,” advises Erica. This way, you make sure that you leave room to build up to more challenging projects. “Plus, as you do, you’ll feel more comfortable with certain tools, techniques and supplies.”
Look for inspiration in life and online
While Erica loves using Internet resources like Pinterest and Instagram for project inspiration, there’s also plenty to be had day-to-day, too. Try taking influence from nature and those around you—you may be surprised at what you find. “There are so many things and sites that will give you loads of ideas to build upon,” says Erica.
Take on a challenge with friends
Finding ways to connect with your friends and family right now is important and taking on a craft challenge virtually as a team may be just the thing you need. “Why not pick a group of friends, come up with a collective idea everyone can execute from home and then share your final creations together?” suggests Erica. Like a book club, but for crafts…
Remember, there are no rules
“Most of us have a need to create. Whether you’re someone who wants to de-stress after a hard day working, a parent who just wants something to do when the kids are in bed or a millennial who loves making, there’s something for you. The great thing about crafting, like any art form, is there are no rules,” says Hannah. Hear, hear.
Get creative with hama beading
What is it? You’ve likely designed a hama bead creation at some point in your life, or seen kids do it. You know, the small, (recyclable) plastic hollow beads that melt together into a solid artwork when you iron them?
How to: Hama beads have been around for a while, first launching in 2000, and the premise remains simple. Order your hama beads online, making sure to add a template or template boards to basket, too. These will dictate what hama bead art you can make, so if you’d rather go freestyle and create your own designs, make sure to order square or rectangle boards that are big enough. When they arrive, get inventive: simply pop the beads into your creation on the template and iron when you’re done to finish.
Upcycle with chalk painting
What is it? According to ITV This Morning’s crafter Georgina Burnett (@burnett_georgina), chalk painting is a type of paint that leaves a—yep, you guessed it—chalky like texture and appearance. “It’s an easy way to upgrade dated furniture into modern, attractive and unique pieces” she shares. “Plus, it can be extremely meditative and satisfying. It actually helped me when I was suffering with postnatal depression.”
How to: Decorating a piece of furniture used to be a hassle as you’d have to spend time preparing the surface. The invention of chalk painting throws this necessity out the window.
Follow Georgina’s tips:
Make patterns with macramé
What is it? Macramé artist Isabella (@_twome) describes it as the craft of knotting and making patterns using string and cord. “Macramé has come a long way since the 70s jute owls”, she says. “Modern macramé is all about soft and natural cotton strings and rope to create home decor, accessories and fashion statements.” Isabella loves upcycling old bits of fabric, string, and even pairs of leggings.
Or, if that’s a bit much for you to follow, Isabella is running a series of online workshops teaching you everything there is to know about the art of macramé. From how to make lamps, wall hangings, earrings and coasters, you really can learn to create anything. For the workshops, you can also order material kit directly from Isabella, save any need to go to the shops or faff over not having the right equipment. Join in her video tutorial, this month on how to make plant hangers, and then join in a live Zoom call if you have any questions. Ideal.
A post shared by Isabella Strambio (@_twome)
Get messy with decoupage
What is it? Listen up, newbies: decoupage is a simple home activity to start on if you’re totally new to crafting, says Georgina. “It involves layering pieces of tissue paper, paper, card or fabric (although tissue paper works best) and using glue or decoupage medium to stick and seal. You can get some really interesting and quirky effects, even if you’re not particularly artistic.”
You can add interest to items of furniture, ornaments and artwork this way. Neat.
Model a balloon
What is it: Often seen at kids parties, balloon modelling consists of blowing up balloons and twisting into assorted shapes, such as animals, hats and more. Perfect crafty fun for all the family.
How to: Lucky for you, Kerry Jay Binns of Come To My Party is hosting live Facebook balloon modelling classes every day at midday. Get the kids involved and follow a mix of basic beginner models to the more advanced, making everything from balloon backpacks to hats.
What is it: Sure, the idea of making a cushion may fill many a novice with dread, but Georgina assures that having a go using just an old shirt can be a very quick and simple induction.
When Georgina makes cushions, she follows the following steps:
Make your own scrapbook
What is it: Ecologist and author of I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast, Michael Holland suggests using your craft time to make a collage about all the plants in your life: a place for your nature-based art works, bird watching observations, or seed growing timelines.
How to: How you want yours to shape up is entirely up to you, but some ideas span a ‘To Do’ list for your green space, watercolours of your favourite plants, or as above, observations on bird watching or seed growing. Michael likes making his scrapbook out of recycled paper that would otherwise have gone to waste.
While Michael is a nature lover, it’s worth noting here that you could fill your homemade scrapbook with anything you fancy – new recipes, wanderlust inspiration or fashion collages.
Create a mini garden
What is it? The idea is to collect items from your garden or outdoor space and collate into your own miniature indoor garden sculpture. Think feathers, leaves, seeds, small sticks, petals, stones and shells. Anything goes here.
Michael continues: “The beauty of this activity is that it really helps us to focus on the minute details around us. You can choose to go free-style, or be more prescriptive by setting a challenge to make the first letter of your name, a funny face or a tiny landscape.”
Michael suggests the following:
Collate a pinboard
What is it: A wall-friendly way of decorating your home, that’s what. If you’re into scrapbooking and looking to take your cut-and-pasting skills that bit further, interiors expert Lisa Dawson (@_lisa_dawson_) recommends using this time to pep up an empty space in your home. “Small projects can be very therapeutic and make the most of what we have in our homes at minimum cost, while getting creative lifts your mood and gives you confidence to try new things. Why not use cork floor tiles to create your own pinboard wall, either within a frame or directly to the wall, or use blackboard paint to make a statement wall – great for kitchens and playrooms.”
How to: Lisa loves scouring Pinterest for inspiration – it really is a hub of ideas. Once you’ve ordered your pinboard, cork floor tiles or blackboard paint, it’s all about getting creative. Why not pin old photographs, train tickets, brochures, polaroids, postcards and paintings to your board? For more inspiration, head to her Instagram page. The possibilities are endless.
Get your yarn on with crocheting
What is it? Known as the easier and cheaper version of knitting, crochet is knitting’s little sister and is similar, bar the fact crochet uses one hook and is faster. History Cooperative describes crochet as “a process by which yarn or thread and a single hook of any size can be used to make fabric, lace, garments and toys.” You can also make crochet fashion items, like bags and tops, if you have the time and the patience.
How to: If you can knit, you’ll likely pick up the hang of crochet pretty quickly, but YouTube is the place to go if you’re unsure and looking to learn. There are a whole host of tutorials and crochet-along how-to videos designed for beginners just getting started. Good Housekeeping likes Bella Coco Crochet (@bellacococrochet)’s videos, made for absolute beginners or those looking to refresh their memory.
Soothe yourself with origami
What is it? A Japanese craft in origin, origami is the art of paper folding to create different designs and objects – no cutting, taping or gluing necessary. Fun fact: the name comes from the Japanese terms for folding and paper, “ori” and “kami”.
How to: As above, YouTube and Pinterest are great starting points. Both have a heap of different tutorials depending on what you’d like to make, whether that’s a rose, crane, butterfly or something else entirely. The “Origami Tutorials” YouTube channel is particularly good. There are, of course, plenty of books available at Waterstones, too. If you’re keen to learn a little more about the history of origami and what, culturally, each object symbolises, head here.
Looking for more inspirational activity ideas to try during lockdown? From at-home workouts you can follow online, to uplifting book recommendations and expert cooking tips, check out Good Housekeeping‘s Room to Grow section now. We’ve rounded up everything you need to stay busy and positive during this time.
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