Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crafting & Me: The Early Years, Pt. 1

So, I started project two today and it's half-way there (YEAH!) But, since there are sections that need to dry overnight, I won't be able to post on it until tomorrow (boo.)

In the meantime, I hoped that I'd entertain all you with my personal history of crafting. I know, it sounds thrilling to me too. Settle in and I'll start my story with the first arts & craft project I remember making...

My memory goes pretty far back into my childhood. I can remember things from as far back as three years old. It was 1981 and my Mother, Father, Brother, and me were living in Denver, CO. Denver was still in the 70s at that time, so there was a lot of real-wood paneling and macrame. A lot of places looked like the set of 'Mork & Mindy'.

By the time I started pre-school my parents had separated, although it didn't faze Brother and me all that badly. We still saw Father all the time, he just didn't live with us anymore. Because both of my parents worked, Brother and I would go to a babysitter. Then one year Mother dropped me off at pre-school — and I flippin' loved it!

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the school — and I sooooo wish I could — but as I remember the school itself, it was like an amazeballs clubhouse built by a bunch of 70s hippies for their trippy kids.

The building was in an octagon shape both inside and outside. It was only one story and it had a skylight in the middle of its vaulted ceiling. Inside there was a big open space in the middle (the pay area) and the classrooms formed a ring around this play area. There was orange carpet, wood paneling, and ferns everywhere with glass sliding doors opening onto the backyard area of the school. The best part of the pre-school, though, was the giant pit in the middle of the play area! (Even though it was really more like a mini-amphitheater with wide steps on one side also doubling as the seating area to the "deep end" on the other side.)

All of the students ended up visiting each of the classrooms, but the one I remember spending the most time in was to the right of the main door and was one of the larger classrooms. Each of the kids had a cubby, got a lunch with a tiny paper cup of milk, took naps on floor mats, and had field trips to movies like 'Bambi'. I do not remember them teaching me to spell or count, but I do remember the first time an ordinary object could be used to create something extraordinary.

I was sitting at the big, long table in our classroom with the other kids. The teachers gave each of us a piece of paper, a few crayons, and a pair of safety scissors. Then they stood at one end of the table and showed us how to use the scissors to shave the crayons (thank goodness it was the early 80s and nobody thought twice about a small child using scissors that way.) As instructed, I shaved the crayons onto my piece of paper and brought it up to one of the teachers. That teacher then took the paper, put it onto an ironing board, placed a piece of wax paper on top of it, and ran a dry, hot iron over the paper-crayon sandwich. When the teacher was done I had a piece of notebook paper with a big, colorful splotch on it.

Why this simple little activity has stayed with me for so long isn't because I thought I made something amazingly artistic that day — because I didn't — it's stayed with me because that was the moment I experienced the creation process first hand and liked it. I learned how you could take one thing, alter it in some way, and turn it into something completely different. Which is really all crafting is! Yes, some crafting projects start with rawer materials, but whether your projects uses brand new or re-purposed materials, you're still creating something from another something.

I didn't become a crafter right away after that art project. I didn't even become artistic right away. I definitely wanted to make more crayon wax art, but I was too little to use the iron at home and, frankly, I didn't want to mess up my crayons. Instead I kept my imagination active until the day my paternal grandmother put a needle in my hand.

To be continued...

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