Making things is starting a (minor) revolution.
With a new year, and the cold, clear days, it’s easy to get introspective. And so I have. As I think about all the things that bring me joy, it’s easy to cast myself as scattered. I like so many different things, lots of them at least vaguely domestic. But as I look more deeply, I find my various interests all fall under one big umbrella: I really like to make stuff.
Writing a play, knitting a sweater, baking a loaf of bread–these are all essentially creative acts. It’s self-expression through concrete forms. It’s sculpture, but instead of clay, I use ideas, and words, and yarn, and flour.
I come from a long line of makers. My dad was an essayist, an artist, and a “build things around the house” specialist, as well as a scientist. My mom insists she’s not creative, but she consistently finds ways to bring meaning into daily life, as well drawing the best stick-figure reading curriculum this world has ever seen.
Of course, the Queen of the Makers, the one who is probably the most responsible is my maternal grandmother. When I was a little girl, she provided me with shoe boxes of odds and ends and paint and glue to play with. She taught me to sew, and gave me my first fixes of fabric shopping. She refinished furniture, she made quilts, she embroidered, crocheted, cross stitched, tole painted, and she gardened like Monet.
It’s not a secret that Americans no longer live in a making culture. As a former resident of the now, yet again, infamous, Flint, Michigan, I get that in the way that only we Rust Belt natives can. Instead of manufacturing, we consume, often the very products we’ve outsourced. We put our focus on cheaper and faster, rather than solid and good.
There’s something vividly counterculture about making things yourself.
Making puts us in direct contact with the things we use, and holds the opportunity for joy in both the creation and use of the thing that we make. It gives us a little bit of pride and a little bit of confidence in our ability to fend for ourselves. It connects us to previous generations. It makes us just the teensiest bit less dependent on our corporate overlords.
Great Big Caveat: I am happy I do not have to make everything I use. I didn’t build my furniture, I didn’t grind my own flour, I don’t have to learn to sew blue jeans if I don’t want to. I am glad to be able to choose what I make..
As you can tell, I’ve been thinking about the act of making a lot. This introduces a series of posts I’m calling “Maker Mondays.”
What are you making lately?