Back when I started school, aged five, everyone had a hand-knitted jumper. Often it was made especially and tailored to fit. By the time I was ten, you were teased if you had one – could you not afford to buy one ready-made? Handmade items were often seen as second best. People who made things for a living seemed to be a dying breed. Making was not a career path.
When young, we are encouraged to make things Give a group of six-year- olds a pile of junk (empty washing-up liquid bottles, cardboard tubes, etc.); add some tape, shiny paper, and a few pipe cleaners and the creations will be fantastic. Rockets, castles, robots, dragons, trains – children will have fun and let their imaginations run wild.
When it was discovered I had the genetic make-up and attitude for academia – which meant I did well at exams – the opportunities to make creative things at school diminished. You were either practical or academic. Not both.
Fortunately, I gained a lot of practical skills outside of school. At home I was surrounded by people who made things. I was also a member of the Girl Guides and later Scouts – where using the available resources to solve a problem was encouraged. I found that here I could combine my academic knowledge with my practical skills. This is when I became a maker.
Our day jobs can stifle creativity, and making is limited to only a few professions. A manager’s role is often to make sure things are done to specification – without variation or improvement.
But making can be a hobby as well as a profession. Homemade, bespoke, and artisan products are becoming cool. Making is on TV. There are local craft markets. Websites such as Etsy are thriving. People are not only making things but others are buying these things.
From knitters and potters to computer and electronics experts, people now share skills and ideas on the internet in videos, blogs, and even social media. Physical meeting places such as Hackspaces and other community groups allow people to share tools, skills, and ideas face to face.
Making is something we can all enjoy. We don’t have to make a junk model to unleash our inner child – to be open to ideas, use our imaginations and have fun – but we could...
How do you celebrate the joy of making?