No doubt you’ve read, or at least heard of, myriad studies on how learning something new or doing something creative affects mental health, energy, aging, etc… If you get your kicks from reading academic research papers, by all means, go ahead and look up scholarly articles on neuronal plasticity. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really are looking for a brain hemorrhage.
One of my favourite bits on the subject of creativity (although slightly off my topic) is this one by Martha Beck. The woman cracks me up. But one very simple article that sums up the connection between aging well and trying new creative pursuits is this one from Psychology Today. Or check out this one without the annoying typos from a Reuters staff writer.
I’m all for learning new anything, anytime, anywhere — with a few exceptions. Anyway, I jumped in head first when I came across this collaborative challenge from Stephanie Woodson and company:
The idea is to try a new craft or learn a new creative skill every month for 2016. Here’s the line-up…
Ever since I saw someone post a gorgeous picture of a Runaround Bag* that she’d customized with English Paper Piecing (EPP), I’ve wanted to try something similar. Last week, I started with this short class on Creative Bug and came away thinking, “That’s all there is to it? It’s not as complicated as I thought!” Next I went looking for templates to use for my piecing. What is up with all the hexagons??? Don’t English quilters use any other shape? Downloaded this How-to guide and template from Craftsy anyway, but I am not making hexies! I want to make something original so I’ll have to draw some templates myself — maybe a cat shape. If I get it done by the end of the month, I’ll come back to post the results, but I’m not making any promises.
The rest of the year
February – Tactile Craft; paper mache, clay, soap, candlemaking, etc… I have all the makings for candles somewhere in a box, but I’ve already tried that and got bored with it. I also tried pottery way back in high school and presented my dad with a pen holder that leaned precariously to one side. But ever since Demi Moore and the muddy overalls (you know the scene!), I’ve wanted to give it another shot. Or I could just go bake some mud pies. We’ll see.
March – Painting. I’ll have to rely on my brilliantly talented BFF to teach me. Provided she’s recovered from the horror of my acrylic attempt.
April – Edible Crafts. Knives, mangoes, pineapples… this is not going to end well… On second thought, there’s a really cool class on Craftsy I want to take: Sugar Flowers! Um, yeah, still not going to end well.
May – Hand Sewing. I’ll take this month off, I think.
June – Heavy Craft: leather, wood burning, glass etching. Yes, yes YESS! Burnishers, chemicals, flame throwers… I can’t wait ’til June!
July – Yarn Craft: knitting, crochet, weaving. I will take this month off as well. Give my eyebrows and fingertips a change to grow back.
August – Printmaking: fabric or paper. I already started to collect my equipment and plan out the setup for screen printing. I watched these beginner classes with Hilary Williams on Creative Bug and can’t wait to give it a go. It’s gonna be like finger painting!
September – Machine Sewing. I’m sure I’ll find something new to do to my machine. But everything beyond here is too far into the future to plan.
October – Needlework: embroidery, cross-stitch, crewel, needlepoint
November – Papercraft: origami, scrapbook, calligraphy
December – Choose your own! Somebody’s asking for trouble letting a bunch-a crafters run about willy-nilly during the holidays.
Play with us …
What it comes down to is this: I don’t plan on letting my middle-aged body talk me into settling on the couch or getting into a comfortable routine. I have every intention of wrecking my nails with clay, sanding my fingerprints away and possibly losing the security deposit on my apartment. Because, well because, my neurons need more plastic. Join the craft war against aging and give your old brain a good workout to keep dementia at bay. The researchers and therapists say you should do it, so just do it!
Tell me in the comments what you plan to do, then head over to the special Facebook group to show and tell after you’ve done it. Or pick up some new ideas that would delight any first grader.
Meet you back here at the end of the month!
* The Runaround bag is one of 3 patterns included with this Zip It Up class.
I started to draw my cat face template and this is as far as I got. Taz thinks he’s more qualified to do this than I am.
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