The craft cupboard, where hobbies go to die

Sunday 7th January, 2024

The Birth of the Craft Cupboard

In the world of the wannabe crafter, the feeling of a well-stocked craft cupboard is indescribable. Colour coordinated paint tubes, drill bits organised by size, neatly stacked and labelled supplies that promise a creative haven where imaginations run wild, and artistic dreams come to life. Or, at least that is what I am led to believe. In my case, the dream cupboard is actually a nightmare, rammed full with spilling, split boxes and Tesco bags stuffed with half-attempted hobbies and shame.

The Hyperfocus Effect

Ah, hyperfocusing - that sweet provider of dopamine and hope. The pattern is usually the same, it starts with something spied on Pinterest, or a well-targeted advert on Instagram. The mesmerizing beauty of resin pouring, the ancient art of lace-making. Each time I try to ignore it, to write it off as an initial passing interest, but those 5 seconds that I hovered over the video were too much, and everything quickly spirals into an algorithm black hole where the marketing Gods supply more and more 5-minute hacks, instant expert techniques, and must-have supplies. Before long they have me sucked in, with amazing teachers giving free lessons on YouTube and they make it look soooo easy. I can definitely make beautiful watercolour paintings because I read an article about how to avoid 3 simple mistakes that cause most people to fail. I will be on my way in no time.

Time loses all meaning, suddenly it is 2am and I know that this time it is going to be different. I can do this, I can be a calligrapher! I will just start by ordering a few cheap brush pens…

The Accidental Stash

The first purchases are always basics from somewhere that will get to me as quickly and cheaply as possible, because I can't wait to make my own family of cute clay bunny rabbits and I am not going to waste lots of money before I have even started. Not this time; I have learned from my mistakes. I do try to find alternatives to Amazon since I hate the strangle-hold that the company has on the world, but they are just too goddamn efficient. My anti-corporate holier-than-thou attitude only works with people who haven't been in my home and seen me having conversation with my 2 Alexas, Fire TV and Amazon Show. Pretty much everything in my house does what it is told by talking to it now; lights, TV, heating - I just need to find a way to stick obedient AI assistant chips in the kids' heads.

That first package arrives and I excitedly rip it open and try out some of the tips I have seen, but I quickly realise that for some reason I am not actually able to follow the simple but effective techniques that the charming dressmaker on YouTube told me to use. The only feasible reason for this is, of course, that it is not possible to create a perfect crocheted animaguri with the cheap supplies that I have bought. If I maybe just buy one set of good quality hooks and a few colours of that high quality crochet yarn that YouTuber recommended via her affiliate link…but then the sites selling the good stuff give you free delivery if you spend £50 so I would be a fool not to buy a few extras to make up the cost! Anyway, it is not wasting money, it in an investment in my future Etsy business.

Oh and look, my new favourite YouTube teacher has a sale on her online course! What a stroke of luck! It usually costs £100 but today it only costs £50! I had better buy it now, because I know I will want it once I have practiced a bit with my new fancy supplies, and it is strategic spending. If I complete a whole course then nothing can stand in my way! I am so smart!!

Birthdays and Christmases

If fortune shines on the latest obsession and I am mid-fervour when my birthday or Christmas is coming up, my thingstogetme gift list will be filled with expensive paints and brushes, artisan baking ingredients, speciality varnishes, and all of the other luxury items that I will use as soon as I master my new hobby and am worthy of them.

My relatives and friends humour whatever my latest obsession is and contribute to the cause. Each pack of beads, buttons and coloured glue gun sticks adds to the growing repertoire of creative possibilities and dreams within the craft cupboard.

The Cyber Crafting Community

These days, every craft has an endless amount of Facebook groups, forums, blogs, Pinterest boards, career Instagrammers…and no crafting journey is complete without joining the bustling online communities that promise camaraderie and inspiration. I lurk in the background of these exclusive clubs of experts, where enthusiasts share their triumphs and tribulations. I see people sharing their beautiful art, proudly posting perfectly hand embroidered tablecloths with matching napkins. I see all the comments telling the creator how clever and talented they are. I see the upvotes, the likes, the shares. I see people who are talented. More talented than me. It will take me years to be that good. Maybe I will never be able to create such beautiful pieces. Uh-oh, the self-doubt is creeping in again!

The issue is that in these days of information overload, you instantly see a million "amateurs just like you" online showing off their more successful creations. Rarely do you see their half-assed efforts, their less-than-perfect drawings, their outright failures. You certainly don't see the hundreds, even thousands of hours that they have spent learning, practicing and failing. All you see is your tangled mess of wires and beads vs their intricately patterned necklace (that actually took them 5 hours while you only spent 15 minutes before giving up).

Rinse and Repeat

And so, the cycle repeats - a carousel of creative pursuits that dazzle momentarily before the lustre fades. The craft cupboard gains another exhibit for the museum of aspirations.

The real problem of the overflowing craft cupboard comes from the fact that I will never let a dream truly die. I am a great believer in dreams. One day, I am going to permanently get off the standard 9-5 treadmill and make stained glass windows for billionaires' houses, sell hand engraved personalised Christmas ornaments, paint one-of-a-kind portraits of cats, hand-letter stationery for birthday parties and weddings…

It is not a bad thing to have dreams, and it is not a bad thing to have belief in your future self. When I have more time and more motivation, I have all of the tools at my disposal to become whatever master crafter I decide I want to be. Until then, I will endure my partner's witty comments about my "crap" cupboard and continue to re-box and rearrange my never ending supplies to force them to fit in.

If nothing else, maybe one of my children will decide they want to start making candles, and I will have everything they need to get started.

It's free
always has been, always will be

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It's free
always has been, always will be