Monday, July 11, 2011

The Road To Multiple Hobbies

"How does one person have so many talents? Seriously, you know how to do so many constructive hobbies, and the end results are all so awesome. LOVE the Pai Sho pieces in the other post, gorgeous, and my inner nerd wants one of these ornaments :P" ~ Maze

So at first, I thought I could give this a very short answer, but the more I thought about it - the more I realized a quick answer could not fully explain. I guess the short answer would be - I have never refused to learn something from anyone willing to teach me.

I'll start with the two phrases my mother instilled in me at a young age.
"Never say 'I can't'."
"You can only be bored if you allow yourself to be."

I've learned the first - although, I still use 'I can't' as an excuse on occasion - still working on fully removing that thought pattern. I think that I would probably employ it more often had my mother not taken the time to painstakingly show me and others that we really could. Because of this, 7 times out of 10 I will approach a new endeavor with the following attitude: "I don't know how well I can, but I know that I am capable and therefore, it is worth my effort to find out how well I can do this."

The second I know very well. Uttering "I'm bored" around my mother meant that she would find us something to do (often additional chores). So, at first, I learned not to be bored around my mother. Then I eventually realized the truth to her words. The initial feeling of boredom can surface at anytime, but to remain bored is a choice. When "I'm bored" hits we can throw a pity party (which I still do on occasion) or we can make the choice to do something to alleviate the boredom.

My mother also instilled a love of crafting. She was known as the "Craft Lady" - often volunteering to teach craft projects at school or at church (including the 500 kit crafts per room at VBS each summer). She is also very thrifty. At craft fairs we would look at all the crafts - when we found something we liked her response was often - I think we can make that. Then she would pull out her notebook (or whatever paper she had handy ie. napkins, receipts...) and either write or sketch what she needed to remember about a piece. From watching her, I learned to recognize the different elements required to make up the whole and to start thinking about things that could be substituted for more expensive components.

My father is an architect. So from him I learned many of the design and construction elements. As a child, he would let me play with the stencils and create things. He would praise my end result - even if my buildings never had a chance of standing as drawn. He encouraged me to enter design contests and to explore my creativity.

So my parents were a huge influence on my love of creating and constructing.

Halloween also played a big role. I grew up in a large family (there were six of us in my immediate family and now their are nine [not counting anyone by marriage]). So buying new Halloween costumes from the store each year was out of the question. This is where my Grand Aunt Barb comes in. She is a marvelously talented seamstress and let us use the costumes she had made for her children. I think I was the black widow more Halloweens than I was anything else. Eventually, we wanted to be things that were not in my Aunt's box. So mom would help us create our own costumes - usually from things found at the thrift store. I remember dying a funky one piece pant set we had found to be Jasmine one year (it had lace over the stomach and Halloween in my area tends to have a 50/50 chance of snow). So my love of costume creation grew out of childhood experience. It was really funny one year, when as an adult, my mother asked me how I ever got the idea that I could make costumes and was shocked when I answered from her. Once I explained why - she understood.

My Grandma Mouse (she collects mice figurines and Elizabeth was a hard name to say as a child) taught me many of the sewing basics as she often made clothes for us each school year and eventually let me help.

Another hook for the costuming aspect was meeting my friend, Kelli. She is an expert seamstress and a wonderful teacher. I learned pattern drafting, quilting fabric, and how to sew piping from her. Her work (which is screen accurate [or better]) has given me something to shoot for.

My sexy husband, Bevan, taught me how to mod Nerf guns to fire better.

My mum (mother-in-law) taught me how to cross-stitch.

Nanny (my husband's Grandmother) taught me how to knit.

My friend, Alfredo, taught me how to make chain mail.

My elementary school teachers encouraged me to write stories and several teacher's after that continued to encourage me to write.

My friend, Joe, has taught me a lot about the anatomy of animals and how to get proportions correct. He has also given me lessons in foam carving and sculpting foam.

My mother taught me how to bead at a young age - both by hand and on a bead loom. She (and my father) taught me how to use various tools [I'm pretty sure they gave me a tool set of my own in grade school]. My mother taught me how to use a scroll saw. *Edit: In fact, I just realized that sitting on the table next to me is a 16 ft. tape measure with a tag that reads: "Nat, I <3 you beyond measure. Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Mom"

Both my parents have taught me the remodeling trade. I can knock down walls, feed wires through a wall, put up walls, tear off siding, paint, put up siding, mud & texture dry wall, caulk, put in windows, hang wainscot, add trim, and any other number of assorted home maintenance things because of them.

In listing out all who have taught me something, I know that I am missing people. Some of my teachers have been strangers who have posted tutorials on the web. Others have been artists and craftsters who have inspired me to try something new. Much has just been encouragement from friends, family and strangers alike.


  1. Between an architect father and a craft queen mom, I can see where the love of design and creating came from :) That's all amazing. It really got me thinking about how many people I know who know how to do something I've thought was neat, but I never asked them to teach me how. My grandmother knits, Dad-in-law works with metal (makes things from titanium guitar picks to chainmail), Mom's boyfriend plays guitar, Sis-in-law plays violin, many high school friends could draw... and now I have friends like you who build or sew or cook/bake. I should ask someone to teach me something new. This is a really inspirational post :) Thanks.

  2. In asking, you'll be surprised how many of them will be happy to share their hobby and teach you. You'll find a few who will point you to the ways they learned it instead of teaching directly. And you may run into a few who say no (but don't don't let them discourage you). So if there is something you see me do that you would really like to learn - let me know. I have access to a video camera and could probably figure out some kind of video tutorial. :) Have fun in your quest to learn something new!

  3. Honestly, I've wanted to ask you if you would want to do something like that for my nerd girls blog. :) Share how to make some of the stuff you make. We're on hiatus for the moment while my co-writer settles into her new work schedule, but when I showed her your blog here, the first thing she said was "this AWESOME!" and she agreed that if you wanted to, we'd love to have you make some posts for us, at the very least showing off your crafts. I think I might talk to my Dad-in-law about the metalwork next time we visit them (I am so girly, I know :P)

  4. I can do that. Just let me know which one(s) you are interested in. :) And there is nothing wrong with be girly.