Maker Moment: Spread the Love

Last night, Justin and I decided to check out a new-to-use deli for dinner. The shopping center where it’s located, which is a mere five minutes from our neighborhood and full of local shops, is more of a warren than a plaza, with many narrow streets and alleys between clusters of buildings. Since it was nearly 8 PM when we finally settled on where we wanted to eat, it was already dark and difficult to figure out where the deli was amidst all the other cafés and boutiques.

While driving down one of the many one-way streets and peering up at the neon signs, Justin said something fantastical that was completely at odds with his level tone: “That’s a Disney princess.”

“Come again?”

“There’s a Disney princess on the sidewalk between those two buildings.”

Intrigued, we decided to park the car and investigate. (Rather serendipitously, we ended up walking by the deli, which we’d driven past.) Sure enough, there were three young women in full princess regalia being photographed under the streetlights in the covered walkway between two shops. They were perfect replicas Cinderella, Elsa, and Anna, from their hair and makeup down to their gloves and shoes.

I’m a huge enthusiast when it comes to costuming/cosplay, and I’ve been to a fair few Renaissance festivals, Halloween costume contests, and fancy dress parties (as I found out they’re called in England). I have no problems going out in public in garb, whether or not there’s an event, and I don’t mind when people ask questions—far from it!

But I can’t think of time when I’ve seen others in costume outside of event, and I don’t chat up random strangers about their clothes on a normal day. Actually, I don’t chat up random strangers at all, if I can help it. I avoid small talk more diligently people with sniffles and those salespeople at mall kiosks selling lotion. I will absolutely dodge down another aisle if I think someone in the grocery store might try to strike up a conversation.

As someone who loves costumes and likes to make things, though, I had to know: did they make their dresses?

So, bolstered by my curiosity, I walked up and said hello. We admitted to stopping because we caught sight of their photo session; were they dressed up for something in particular? The Cinderella premier at a nearby theater, it turns out. Cinderella herself said they were a huge hit with the kids going to see the movie.

“Did you make your own outfits?” I asked, all nervous anticipation.

Anna pointed to Elsa and said matter-of-factly, “She made everything herself.” Anna’s was a group effort; Cinderella’s was purchased.

While I would have loved to stay and get more details, it was clear that they’d planned the photography, and I didn’t want to interrupt them any further. I let them know that they all looked amazing and wished them a good time. I left feeling heartened that there are other sewists here, and that they’re some super-talented and warm ladies to boot. Even if we never run into each other again, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared my admiration for their work. I know if I were in their glass slippers, I would have been immensely flattered. I’m glad I could spread the love.

Assignment #17: Catch Up Day

Today was supposed to be focused on cleaning up the bedroom since I didn’t get to it during its dedicated weekend. I washed and ironed the bedding this past weekend, and planned to dust, vacuum, and do general tidying tonight. But I came home feeling a bit under the weather—which was cold, grey, and soggy—so I decided that it was a sign that the bedroom just wasn’t going to get its day this month and let it go.

But lest you think I’m the type that would succumb to spending a whole evening melting into the couch, here’s proof that I’m working on other things besides just sprucing up the apartment:

2015-01-26_WIPsFirst sewing and knitting projects of 2015. Can. Not. Wait.

Let’s Get Started

Starting anything new is hard for me. I’m not especially indecisive, but I am a perfectionist, and a determined researcher, and a gadget-lover, so beginning any new activity, whether it’s an entirely new hobby or just a new project, is necessarily a bit of an undertaking with me. It’s not enough that I want try something, or that I have the time or space to work on it—I first have to understand what skills are considered essential and where to learn them; I have to survey the required tools to decide which are necessary, which are helpful, and which give a superior outcome before gathering them up; and I have to wring my hands and agonize over whether, even with all the knowledge and tools available to me, I’ll be able to get the results I want. Suffice it to say that this is not a particularly efficient or effective method of arriving at a finished project. Although I seldom lack the motivation to see a project through, there’s no arguing that you can’t finish what you didn’t start.

The online community of makers, I’ve discovered, is robust, supportive, and prolific—in essence, possessed all of the qualities that I strive for. For months I’ve admired the way the sewists, knitters, and DIYers that I follow offer one another encouragement and constructive feedback, confronting various kinds of adversity with maturity, poise, and general awesomeness. I’ve also envied how productive many of them are, and the way that participating in a community has spurred them to set and achieve goals that would have otherwise seemed out of reach. And, let’s be honest, I’m downright jealous of the meet-ups, craft conventions, and community events where liked-minded folk get together with people who are just as enthusiastic as they are about Making All The Things. I’ve yet to find an in-person creative community where I felt like I fit in, but these online communities make you feel like you belong just by showing up. I’ve read, I’ve followed, and I’ve commented, and now it’s time for me to start participating.

Enter this blog. (Which, in the interest of full disclosure, had more than its fair share of false starts. I expect I’ll share about that one day, perhaps on the blog’s first anniversary, when it’s a distant enough memory that I can laugh about it instead of feeling faintly embarrassed.) If I want to be a part of a community of makers, I need to start making things, so this is my first contribution, which I hope will be part inspirational showcase, part instructional resource, and part kick-in-the-pants to me and everyone else who needs to just start doing and miking the the things we want.

This blog is also a gift to myself, an avenue for writing more. I love to write, and yet I’ve written only infrequently over the last several years. My ostensibly writing-focused job offers little opportunity for original content generation. Keeping a daily diary was a habit that never stuck with me, and my attempts at more free-form journaling tended to wax and wane with the major events of my life. Blogging about planned projects, Works-in-Progress (WIPs) and Finished Objects (FOs), which seems inherently forward-looking rather than present- or backward-looking, appeals to the part of me that hates leaving things half-done and loves having a thing to enjoy and show off, and is therefore a much better motivator than the vagaries of my emotional condition.

To keep me on track, my first series of posts will revolve on participating in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure 2015, which is aimed at getting your home clean, organized, and working for you instead of against you. I completed Assignment #1: A Weekend of Flowers and Floors this afternoon: I purchased a bouquet of white daisies for the dining room table, and I thoroughly vacuumed all of our carpets and laminate. You’ll have to trust me on this, since it the weather was too dismal to get a decently lit photo of the grocery store bouquet, and a shot of beige carpet is hardly the stuff thrilling posts are made of. More exciting home adventures are definitely to come.

So here’s to starting new things, whether they be home improvements, fulfilling relationships, creative endeavors, or just another project among many. Cheers!