There are three things I have heard, literally dozens if not hundreds of times, in the twenty plus years I have been an arts and crafts teacher. The first one is ‘I can’t even sew a button on”, the second is “I can’t buy any more craft stuff as my house is full of it” and lastly “I just don’t have the time”.

It now seems that, whether we like it or not the one thing we are all going to have in abundance is time. So why not look out the button tin, get under the bed for those bags of wool, scrapbooking supplies or watercolours?

The benefits of being creative cannot be underestimated; apart from whiling away the hours whilst learning a new skill, or improving a current one, being absorbed in creativity is good for our mental health. Anything that takes our mind away from worrying about our loved ones and, in fact, the state of the world is good, even if only for short periods at a time.

Now that schools are be in lockdown many parents will be at home for far longer periods than normal. You could use this period to spend quality time teaching your children new skills, which could result in lifelong passions.

Maybe you already go to craft workshops and they have been cancelled. This is the perfect time to try new things you find online. There are some wonderful sites to source ideas, patterns and tutorials including Pinterest and Ravelry. I have taught crafts in many parts of the world and yet most of these are self taught via books or online. The magic word is practice practice practice. Don’t be afraid to show the results to friends or family; you may even inspire them

As for sewing a button on does it really matter? How many people have been judged by the quality of their button sewing? Lest I be corrected I guess some, including tailors, have been! But we have to remember we are not being judged. This is a time to try something new and, as I have often said to students “you may never do this again, but at least you tried it and can say you have done it”

If you try different crafts, there is a good chance you will find something you enjoy and, once you have mastered it, want to try something else.

One day, a few years ago, I was teaching passengers on a cruise ship to make brooches with silk ribbon roses. Half way through the class, much to my chagrin, a lady said, “this is the most stressful thing I have ever done”. I told her not to worry as we could sort it out together. She took a deep breath then went back to her sewing. It turned out beautifully and that night at dinner she was very proud showing off the first thing she had ever made. If you try to remember that all journeys begin with one step, and do not place boundaries on yourself, you will get a great feeling of fulfilment.

So why not use this time to your advantage? At the same time you can clear out your craft cupboard, make beautiful gifts, save money and maybe even sew a button on and, just imagine, some day one of your your grandchildren may say “my grandmother taught me to do this – she learned how to do it during the coronovirus outbreak in 2020

Gill Colthart


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