Sunday, June 13, 2010

Challenge: Overcome your crafting fears!

Does being scared keep you from crafting? Have you read so much about lotions that the mere idea of buying emulsifying wax has you terrified? Do you long to make an amazing shampoo, but you can't step into the workshop without fears of failure?

I remember seeing a lotion recipe and deciding I would try it. I bought my supplies - 30 grams each of emulsifying wax, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, a bottle of olive oil, and a preservative - and ran into the workshop. I remember the joy of seeing the oil and water phases come together into lotion. I didn't have a thermometer - I just stuck my finger into it to see if it was hot or cold - and I'm sure I didn't heat and hold it long enough, but I managed to make that little 100 gram batch work long enough to for my mom and best friend to use it all up before it separated.

Another story about lotion making...About three weeks ago we did a lotion making class with my craft group. We made a really lovely body mousse and the girls loved it. I didn't preface it with a lot of chemistry - just a little information about how emulsification works and why they needed to follow specific instructions - and we made a lovely fluffy lotion that we put into jars and I had them scent at home. From the animated comments they offered - all at the same time - the next week, they not only enjoyed the lotion, they enjoyed the process and wanted to do it again.

What keeps us from experiencing those moments of crafting joy? Cost, availability of supplies, not having someone right there to offer us detailed instructions? Those all play a part, but I think the biggest one is fear - fear of screwing it up, wasting supplies, not doing a good job, and of completely and utterly sucking.

When we fail, we learn what not to do, and that's valuable. There's an apocryphal story about a scientist who creates a new product called formula #1,001. A reporter asks her about the name. She says it's because it was try 1,001. Aren't you annoyed it took you so long to get it? No, the scientist responds. The first 1,000 tries taught me what not to do.

I always say I gain confidence from my successes, but I learn from my mistakes. I can take the screw ups as valuable lessons as to what doesn't work. I know SMC taurate isn't the ideal surfactant for my hair type. I know my facial skin doesn't really like olive oil, but my body skin loves it. And I know grapeseed oil isn't the best choice for a bath bomb if I want it to not go rancid after a month.

So here's my super summer challenge to you! Find something you want to make but haven't made yet - it can be a craft, a foodstuff, a home project - and do it. Pick a date and reserve that date against all other possible commitments (except illness). Order your supplies, get your ingredients and required elements ready, and finally do it!

I've chosen Sunday, June 20th as jamming day (we be jamming, jamming, and I hope you like jamming, too!) with my friends. We've purchased a 30 pound container of fresh Fraser Valley strawberries and we'll be making jam until the sun goes down! We've purchased our jars - we have a box of 125 ml and another of 250 ml, and we are getting one of 500 ml - and we have our recipes ready. We need sugar, pectin, lemons, and assorted herbs like mint and lavender, which are ready in the garden.

And I'll be silkscreening. I've chosen Saturday, July 3rd as silkscreening day. My mom and Raymond are in on this as well. We've chosen a pattern - a very basic star, and if that works, my "Sovereign of the Meeples" design (from Carcassonne) - and we'll be practicing first on some jersey I purchased from the thrift store. I've owned the kit for quite some time (we have two silkscreens), and I'll be prepping the screens the night before to make sure they're ready for the big day. I'm buying some shirts from Michael's this week - they're on 2 for $7 - and I have to ensure we have a light fixture large enough to handle our bulb without fusing out the workshop. Oh, and make sure we have something to cover the window in the bathroom. I think I've covered all the bases!

Yes, I'm buying shirts from Michael's, despite my post on buying local. There simply isn't anywhere local I can buy plain shirts suitable for silkscreening. Our clothing stores carry either very fashionable shirts with things all over them already or shirts that cost $30 each thanks to brand names. Neither of these work for this project. My other choice for shirts of this nature is Wal-mart. I am fairly sure this makes me a hypocrite, but I am trying to find local shops that sell basic plain shirts that don't look like men's undershirts. I have already scoured all the thrift stores and bought up all suitable shirts. 

If you want to join in, add a comment below with your project and expected date of completion (the project doesn't have to be bath & body related, as you can tell from my examples). When you've completed it, e-mail me a picture or two with your story - the project, how you think you did, your assessment of it (loved it and would do it again, hated it and won't do it again, turned out well, what you'd do differently, and so on) and we'll update it on the blog.

I originally thought about offering prizes for participating in this challenge but decided not to do so for two reasons - overcoming your fears of crafting should be reward enough, and I can't afford all the mailing costs it would require. So I hope you participate in this challenge for the pure satisfaction of doing something you've always wanted to do!

And please feel free to comment with your own overcoming-your-crafty-fears story as well! Be an inspiration to those of us too nervous to embark on something new!


Lynda said...

I really love your blog and all of this great information. But it does overwhelm me at times. I do love this challenge. I make CP soap and have been wanting to make 95% olive oil and 5% castor oil soap but have been nervous about it not setting up. I need to set a date and decide on making it. Thanks for the challenge and all of your hard work on this blog.

Kristen said...

Ok, you're on!
I just moved to Yellowknife and my very own modular. Still unpacking, but here is my commitment: I am finally doing a lotion. Yes I am. This Sat is reserved for said project.
Now, I need to commit to a date in July to re-tile my new fireplace surround.... That scares me only slightly more!
ADORE your blog!

Laura said...

Count me in! A couple months ago I painted our kitchen a gorgeous shade of deep red with sand texture and glitter in the paint (my husband picked it out and it really looks fantastic). We've talked about what to do with the cabinets and countertops and we've decided to paint the cabinets white and install butcherblock counters. I'm committing to painting the cabinets by August 31 - that way we don't have to worry about cost at all (we have to vaccinate our seven cats next month and that's not cheap!).

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kristen! Did you make your lotions? If so, how did they turn out? We did our jamming this weekend, and it was great fun!

Hi Lynda! Have you set your date yet?

Hi Laura! Glittery paint. I love it! It sounds great. I would love a butcher's block in our kitchen - we have a nice kitchen, but I'm not a fan of the tiles that get bits in the grouting!

Keep up the great work!

Madeaj said...

This post and your others have made me want to try making some shampoo and conditioners. I think I'll start with the conditioner. My date is set for July 10th. The series on hair conditioners has made me reconsider how I moisturise and condition my hair. I've always thought my tightly curly hair as dry and always added lots of humectants. Which means my hair is really frizzy. However, my hair is also quite fine. The shaft is thin and fluffy, if that makes sense. I am going to try a conditioner for fine hair.

canfieldfive said...

Re-found this post while trying to figure out what-on-earth I did right with my last batch of conditioner (since I changed something and didn't write it down) and wanted to ask if there's any way I can see your Meeple pattern. We LOVE Carcassonne!
:-) Cheyenne