Friday, January 18, 2008

Needle Arts

Last night found the Scientist, Wildchild and myself bent over embroidery hoops. Yep, the girls are trying to learn cross-stitch again. It didn't go so well last time, but I got them cute little Disney cross-stitch kits for Christmas, and they are willing to try again. I suggested they get them out yesterday for an art project, as the art curricula I'm using with them is not currently going very well. It's basically a lot of drawing, and the girls are not really interested in drawing, so much. It's far different in our home from when my sisters and I were growing up. We had a steady supply of crayons and paper, and were constantly drawing and coming up with crafts to do. My girls don't have that artistic bent, so I'm going to have to come up with something new for them to do for art classes. Sometimes we do projects that are related to history, like our Israelite house. Or when we were studying Egyptian history, the girls each made a cartouche with their name in hieroglyphics. But our history lesson does not lend itself easily to an art project every time, so I'll have to see what else I can find, that they will enjoy, but that goes beyond "hand turkey" level of projects. What do you all do for art?

Now, what got me thinking about the state of handcrafts in today's society is the closing of the fabric (and crafts) store where my friend Debbie works. Also, the small cross-stitch store near where I used to live has closed. And there seems to be a decrease in the number of quilting stores in the area too. I wonder if this is due to fewer people doing handcrafts, or the increase in Internet purchases of fabric and such. I'd guess that the stores are closing due to the former, although with local options disappearing, I'm glad to have the increased options that Internet shopping provides. I have a bias, doing so much sewing as well as some cross-stitch and embroidery, but I think that a trend away from creative pursuits and making things yourself is not a good one. In a time where manufacturing processes can be increasingly automated, the extra touch of something made by hand means that much more. And I think creativity is something special, something that helps us stand out as people, and that can help us stand out as a country. I suppose I'll simply have to foster my daughters' own creativity, and hope that someone who sees creativity in our family, might be inspired.


Scott said...

What do you all do for art?


As for the disappearance of craft stores/waning interest in those skills, why should I learn something, pay for the pieces, spend my time assembling it when I can go to Wal Mart and buy the finished product cheaper than the components cost?

Everyday Low Prices, baby!

Besides, if I'm spending time on skills like sewing, quilting, etc, I'm probably missing my favorite TV shows!

silvermine said...

I think part of the problem is it's actually more expensive to make things yourself these days -- clothing manufacturers get good deals on fabric (and third world workers) and can do it cheaper than I can. But I'm still trying anyway. I want higher quality and something that actually fits me.

However, I have the opposite problem -- I had a sewing (mainly quilting) store open just down the street, in easy walking distance so I keep going in and buying stuff even though I still have 27 things to do that I haven't even started yet! :D

I live in silicon valley and it's so expensive here that we keep thinking of moving away, but I'm constantly amazed at the stuff available. I just got a notice of classes available in the area, from animal tracking, to bow making, to biochemistry for 6-9 year olds! I just don't think that happens most other places. But I can't figure out how to live here on just dh's salary so I can homeschool.

elephantschild said...

Scott said,
Besides, if I'm spending time on skills like sewing, quilting, etc, I'm probably missing my favorite TV shows!

Silly non-multi-tasking man! All those handicrafts are what you do to keep your hands busy WHILE you are WATCHING TV.

BTEG, I'd almost make a trip to visit you just so's we could go clean out that store during the liquidation...

Barb the Evil Genius said...

I don't begrudge people trying to save a buck by shopping at Wal-Mart. Groceries, for example, add up so quickly today that you need to find someplace that sells things like that at the lowest price possible. However, there are lots of things that can't be bought at Wal-Mart, and the individuality one can bring to a project just increases the pleasure in the finished product.

Silvermine, I agree that making your own clothing can be a little more expensive, but the quality is of course much better, and if you have more than one kid, you can make up the difference in the clothes actually lasting long enough to hand down. Plus, you're right, I'm addicted to having a custom fit. I'm impressed with your list of classes!

EC, you took the words right out of my mouth regarding having something to do with your hands while watching TV, lol! You should see if you can carpool with Miss Sniz; she wants to come grab some deals too! :)

Barbara Frank said...

I totally get that it's cheaper to buy stuff than make it these days. But here's the thing: the time you invest teaching your children to work with their hands now may pay off big-time for them down the road. We don't know what's going to happen with this economy. Our kids may find that the God-given creativity we nudged them to develop helps them support themselves someday.

I say this as the mother of two creative adults and a creative teen. Dd24 makes a side income by selling her crafts, and dd16 is on the same path. Ds22 has found his creativity to be useful in mission work.

So keep at it, Barb, you're on the right track!

Sniz said...

I think interest in handcrafts and skills decreased a long time ago. :-(

Glenda said...

My friend Amy really liked Artistic Pursuits books for her girls. It is not only drawing, but art appreciation and painting and sculpting. You can check it out at their website, It may or may not be what you're looking for. I gave my second dd cross-stitch books for Christmas. She enjoys it. Plus Grandma gave them a sewing machine, now it is just up to me to remind them to do it, instead of us curling up watching tv. :-)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Miss Sniz, interest in such skills *did* decrease a long time ago. I mean, the Arts and Crafts movement decrying mass-produced items is around a hundred years old! It is sad, but we can each do our own part.

Glenda, I have Artistic Pursuits for my sixth-grader right now! Unfortunately, the 4th-6th grade book is all drawing. Maybe I'll have to look at the Junior High level book.

kate5kiwis said...

far out.
art (like most everything else) happens organically at our place.
mosaics, felting, painting... even arranging food on a plate = art

just have to pipe up with S10's surprising effort this week. he got out the needle and thread and fixed his own pocket-knife-bag.
fantastic. love it X