The Joy of Making

From the time we’re small, we start trying to shape the world around us.  Our efforts then are usually simple, a stack of blocks or a pile of sand.  From there, some of us graduated to using a sheet and a couple of chairs to make a “fort.”  Or piling up branches outdoors to do the same.

The dh had a toy bulldozer he used to make paths in the sandbox, and the boy had an elaborate set of sand molds that went to the beach with us.  I remember being so excited, at age 5, to discover that the hose would carve canyons in the sandbox.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was washing the sand away.  Oops!

MusicPubLogoBy the time the dh and I were in high school, we’d found music.  We were each in the band at our respective schools.  I loved hearing the way my part blended with all the others to make a rich, full sound.

I still miss that, and I so wish I could sing.  If I could, blending with records would at least be possible.

In junior high and high school, I made a lot of my own clothes.  I gave that up, so now I mostly create stories.  That’s a lot of fun, and I hope to be able to do it for a goodly while longer.

G_shirt&pieMany people enjoy cooking.  If you stop by here with any regularity, you know I’m not one of those people.  The dh is one of those people, as is the boy, but not me.  This is a pie the boy made.  He also designed the t-shirt he’s wearing, which is for his school’s (coed) architecture fraternity.

Many of the bandits are terrific cooks and/or bakers.  Kate makes pretty paper.  Many in the group also have beautiful singing voices.  I try not to be frozen with envy when they sing.  I never freeze around baked goods, though. I’m always up for helping dispose of those!

MadSqPk_1We saw this and a larger piece in Madison Square Park.  We’re told the park has rotating art displays.  It was fun to stop and look at them and try to figure out what inspired them.

I recently got an entirely different perspective on making.  On our recent trip to New York, the boy wanted to see some of the new buildings and a couple of parks.   The dh and I are always up for learning something, so we saw parts of Manhattan where we’d never been before.

HighLineThis is a shot from the High Line park.  It’s an elevated park created on the site of an old rail line and runs for ten blocks on the Lower West Side of Manhattan.  Note the very modern building on the left.  There’s a lot of greenery along the walkway.

Hiking up the steps to it could pose a challenge, but it’s pretty once you get up there.  Quite a few people were walking along it when we were there.

Another park the boy wanted to see was Teardrop Park, which is near the World Trade Center Memorial.  Teardrop Park has won awards and is kind of like a bit of the country in the city.  There’s an artificial hill in the park with a playground and a water feature atop it.  The artificial hill and one of the park’s pathways are shown below.





There are benches along the walkways, great places to sit in the shade and rehydrate.

WTC MuseumOf course, people also make memorials.  We walked through the World Trade Center Memorial plaza and were struck by how green it is.  There are young trees planted all over.  On the footprints of the twin towers are rectangular pits that have water sheeting down their sides.  At the bottom, it flows into a smaller, rectangular opening.  The names of those who died are around the edges of the pits, and the museum staff put roses by their names on their birthdays.

We chose not to go to the museum, which is shown above, because the lines were huge.

OneWTC_newOne of the boy’s interests was skyscrapers.  We visited the Skyscraper Museum for the first time before striking out to find Teardrop Park.  The museum had a model of a building we later saw, the new One World Trade Center.

NYFancyDrinkOf course, not everything people make has a serious purpose.  Sometimes it’s meant only to give someone a few moments of pleasure.  Like this fancy drink I got in one of the restaurants.  It’s beautifully constructed with that pineapple wedge and a couple of bits of ginger, and it summery and was fun to drink.

Whatever we choose to make, there’s that moment of satisfaction when it’s done.  When someone writes “The End” and is satisfied that it’s how she wants it to be.  When a newly made garment is ready to wear.  When an artist steps back and says, “That’s it.  It’s done.”

When a pretty drink is ready for the waiter to serve.

What do you like to make, and what first drew you to making it?



  • Amy Conley says:

    so the GR is coming to me? Good I need lots of help I have a thousand things you do and no energy to do them maybe he can help.

  • Amy Conley says:

    lol I can’t make anything! I was in choir I was in school and I love that and I missed it. I do sing along in radio not well but I do sing with the radio. Otherwise I am completely talentless!

  • flchen1 says:

    I like a few crafty things–I think one of the earliest was calligraphy. One of my best friends in elementary school did it beautifully, and I practiced and practiced so I could at least get a reasonable imitation of her lovely penmanship. I also liked to crochet–my mom tried to teach me when I was a kid, but I was so impatient that I broke a hook! I finally picked it up with her help from a book when I was a teen. And I took years of piano lessons–I’m still not a great pianist, but it’s fun sometimes to be able to read music!

    • Fedora, calligraphy is so pretty! I would think you could use it for a lot of different things.

      I never did learn to crochet. My mom was a big knitter and tried to teach me, but I never mastered anything beyond a simple knit/purl stitch.

      I also took piano lessons. I can sight read with my right hand but not the left and not both.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Nancy

    I am not a creative person LOL but I did used to like to cook and knit a lot once although I just don’t seem to have the time these days and I do love reading so much I get such satisfaction out of reading a good book that it always leaves a smile on my face

    Have Fun

  • Shannon says:

    When I had just graduated from college and was working my first job (secretary), I needed dress clothes, and suits were out of my price range. Someone gave me a really nice sewing machine, so I began making suits and nice dresses. I discovered designer patterns and the remnant section of G Street Fabrics (which no longer exists at its old G street location). I had several pieces that people complimented me on.

    When I lived in a condo that allowed wreathes on the door, I made my own. My favorites was a red rose and white something for Christmas. It had a white ribbon with sparkly snowflakes.

    Today, I don’t do much crafty stuff.

    • Shannon, I never graduated to making things as complicated as suits. The most involved thing I ever tackled was a bridesmaid dress. I once made a Halloween costume for the boy.

      Wreaths are so pretty. I’m always tempted to try at the holidays, but we really have nowhere to store one.

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    I like to make all kinds of different crafty things. I like to do stained glass and knitting, and painting at a sip and paint class is fun. Even my job is pretty crafty. I make slides for a pathologist, so it’s a blend of science and crafts. Perfect for me.

    I really enjoy seeing what others make too! People are so talented, and I love to admire that!

    • Heahter, what’s a sip and paint class? It sounds intriguing. I love stained glass. A friend made me a beautiful green dragon. It hangs in our bedroom window, and I have a blue gryphon in the kitchen window.

      You make pathology slides? Cool. Are you the person who slices the samples?

    • Cassondra says:

      Heather, I want to know this too…what’s a sip and paint class?

    • Heathercm2001 says:

      Sip and paint classes are these things popping up where you get to drink wine while you paint a picture. Everyone does the same picture, and it is explained so well that anybody can do it! Easy peasy! So much fun!!! You guys should totally give it a go!

      Yes Nancy. I’m the person that slices up the samples, but it’s a dermpath lab. So all we get are skin biopsies. I process them, put them on the slides, and stain them. A weird kind of craft project.

      • Cassondra Murray says:

        Ohhhh! Yes, Heather I have seen that around here. I take watercolor classes each spring and fall usually, but this looked like so much fun when I heard of it Though I don’t think I’d want to do the same picture as everybody else, so for me it would just be a social time–fun! I’ve heard of people doing this for birthday parties and such. and you are amazingly creative! Your tile of Feenix that you did for the MY FEENIX art contest was my favorite Feenix of all!

      • Heather, sip & paint sounds like fun. I wonder whether there are any around here.

        I don’t think I’d be very good at making slides.

      • Heathercm2001 says:

        Awww thanks Cassondra! I had a lot of fun making Feenix! One of the really cool things about the sip and paint is even though everyone is essentially painting the same thing, they are all really different. It’s really cool to see, and definitely a fun social event!

  • Deb says:

    I think you have many talents, Nancy! As for your dh and son knowing how to bake, that’s great! My husband, too, is a cook, and I appreciate his skills during the school year when he cooks supper. He makes the best omelettes.

    I think I am creative, and I used to do a lot of things. I’ve become…not lazy, just a procrastinator….as in explaining to Donna the other day about putting off a photo album for my daughter for 14 years.

    I played the piano all through high school, but never went out for choir. Long story short, the music teacher had his favorites and he told me not to bother. I’ve been told I have a nice voice, and I even recorded a song for my wedding to be played during the lighting of the candles ceremony. I do sing in our small church choir.

    I used to do cross stitch and often took a pattern, tweaked it, and added my own colors or design. I came across a lot of vintage beads several years ago and made many bracelets.

    I like to bake, but don’t do it often. I am more of a bars-type-dessert baker. Pies, although I love to eat them, can never be matched against my mother’s. My first peach pie was delish, but had to be served in a bowl. Who knew you had to add a bit of flour or cornstarch to the filling? 😉 I did make an apple pie last fall when I had plenty of apples, and it was pretty darned good.

    See the pattern? Used to, ha! I really need to begin some of these pursuits again.

    • Deb, thank you! I think your music teacher failed to understand the “teacher” part of his job. If you can sing in the church choir, I bet you would’ve done well in a school chorus. That’s so neat about the song for your wedding!

      I also procrastinate, unfortunately. The last time i put photos in an album, the boy was in 5th grade. Now he’s in college. :-/ I think digital photography, the ability to keep thousand of photos and take up no extra space, undercuts my incentive.

      That’s cool about the bracelets. A friend of mine makes them with wine corks.

      Deb, I wouldn’t have known that about the crust! As long as the filing is good, I can take or leave the crust. Some of my mom’s best pound cakes were the ones that “fell.”

  • catslady says:

    I use to sketch and paint, then I found crafts. I taught myself to crochet and do needlepoint and just a touch of kitting. I loved making Christmas ornaments. I use to bake but now I do more actual cooking. I took violin but not for very long and loved singing in the choir. Oh, and lots of puzzles. I’m afraid now I spend that extra time here on the computer.

    • Catslady, the dh’s sister makes Christmas ornaments, and it’s so nice to have homemade ones on the tree.

      My mom was a fabulous knitter, but I never got beyond simple knit/purl stitches and never learned to crochet.

      I also love puzzles, especially jigsaw puzzles.

  • Nancy, what an inspirational post! And I love hearing about your peregrinations around NY. I’m envious, but I still love hearing about them. I’m hoping to do a trip there next year but there are so many balls in the air in my life at the moment, I’m not sure which ones are going to end up safely in my hand and which ones are going to go splat on the pavement never to be tossed again!

    Hmm, I clearly like to make extended metaphors!

    • Thanks, Anna! I’m hoping to make RWA next year, too. I would be great to see you, especially since I’m not getting my Fo fix this year.

      It’s a great metaphor, and I know what you mean. Maybe life will settle down by the first of the year.

      • Nancy, I think it’s likely to be late spring/early summer for my NY trip. I’m hoping to be in the UK and to do a hop across the pond. Next RWA is likely to be San Diego for me – it’s only across the Pacific rather than having to cross the continental US after what has already been a horrible flight.

  • Cassondra Murray says:

    Hi Nancy–

    I’ve been making one thing or another for most of my life. I’m trying to think about the first thing I “made”–I guess it would be art, as most kids start out drawing with crayons and such. I recently went through some old stuff at my mom’s and I found a drawing i did in fourth grade. It was a concert hall, with people in the audience all smiling–I was on stage at a grand piano, playing. Apparently I was good, because of the smiles on the faces. I’ve decided I’m going to mat and frame that crayon drawing from so long ago. I moved on to writing songs and doing more art, and making music on guitar and piano. The only job I’ve ever had that needed no creativity at all was my job delivering mail. I liked the people, but I think what made that job wrong for me was that it was so incredibly stressful but there was no place for my creativity to come out and play–no “making of anything” as you’ve put it so well.

    Excellent blog and great subject!

    • Thank you, Cassondra. Glad you liked it.

      What a wonderful picture, and how nice that your parents kept it! You definitely should frame it.

      I’m not surprised by your work history. You’re so creative, and you have a beautiful voice.

  • Pissenlit says:

    I was a visual arts major in uni so I used to make all sorts of stuff but nowadays, I’m mostly only knitting and crocheting. It all started because I was never quite happy with the hats and scarves I came across while shopping so I learned how to knit, to follow patterns and then to also make my own. Then I tried out crocheting, found out about amigurumi…and then I was hooked. *snicker* Now, I mostly knit myself (too many) scarves, bags, shawls and fingerless mitts. And my friends get some knit things but mostly, they get all manner of crocheted stuffed toys, most recently, The Stig from Top Gear and The Death of Rats riding the raven, Quoth, from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. So fun!

  • Pissenlit, my mom was a great knitter, but I never got good at it or learned to crochet. I never realized a person could crochet things like toys or stuffed animals. How fun!