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By Katrina Mayer

Have you ever noticed that even when there’s a down-turn in the economy, arts & crafts stores do a booming business? It seems there are many reasons for this phenomenon. Maybe it’s because creating things with your hands is a time-old tradition and will never go away. Maybe it’s because crafting is a wonderful distraction from some of the worries in life. Whether you’re making pottery or jewelry, crocheting, sewing, painting, knitting, woodworking, beading, or any of the many other forms of arts & crafts, it’s possible to gain a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Perhaps that’s why I always have something craft-related nearby. If I want a little respite from the world I just work on one of my crafts for a while and feel refreshed.

Recently I took some cotton yarn I’d purchased a while back and decided to crochet myself a poncho. I went online, found a pattern I liked and began the process of crocheting and visualizing my new garment.

As I was crocheting this poncho I felt so peaceful, centered and calm. I learned to crochet when I was a little girl and love that it reminds me of a simple time in my life. And I also love that when I am done I’ll have something pretty to wear (or give away.) So, I started thinking of all the other ways that arts and crafts projects are beneficial for adults as well as children. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Fun – The best reason I can think of is that arts & crafts are plain old fun. From picking colors to picking patterns, from visualizing to creating, it is fun to make something with your own hands. And it seems that we could all use a little more fun in our lives.
  2. Economical – It is often (but not always) less expensive to make things yourself. I made a necklace for under $2 dollars that I’ve seen in stores for over $25. I’ve also made scarves from pretty scrap yarn that cost me pennies in supplies and less than an hour of my time. So, when done with a budget in mind, making your own crafts can be the frugal thing to do.
  3. Meditative/Relaxing – As I mentioned before, I always feel so much more calm and peaceful when I’m doing crafts. It helps me focus and be more centered. It really is like a good session of meditation for me. Throw in a cup of tea and I am set to relax.
  4. Wonderful Hobby – It’s nice to have a hobby that allows you to express your inner artist and design something beautiful and/or useful. Hobbies are a great way to take your mind off of work or challenges you might be having in your life. They are a wonderful distraction if you need one.
  5. Empowerment – When I’m done with a project I feel really, really good about what I made and about myself. I feel empowered. I know that I can start something and finish it. I know I can be more self-sufficient and I have the ability to make things for myself. I don’t have to depend on a company to make items for me. I can just make ‘em myself.
  6. Eye-Hand Coordination and Brain Health – Crafting can be an excellent way to keep our brains youthful as well as optimizing our eye-hand coordination. Studies have shown that it’s imperative that we keep our brains active as we age so we don’t stagnate. And using our hands to craft is an excellent way to stimulate our brains in new and challenging ways.
  7. Creativity – Nothing like a new project to get the juices of creativity flowing. Are you ready to make something for yourself or as a gift? What colors will you use? How big should it be? Should it be practical or frivolous? How will you feel as you’re creating it? How will you feel when it is finished? Ahhh… I love that creative spirit. How about you?
  8. Community – Often you can find a group in your area that shares similar crafting interests. Around here there are lots of homesteaders who enjoy sharing tips and suggestions on how to make things so we can all be more self-sufficient and/or live off-the-grid. I find it a lovely way to meet people with similar interests and even make a new friend or two.

So, open that tube of paint, grab a skein of yarn, make gifts to share for the holidays, or create a little something for yourself. Get your creative mind in gear because arts & crafts are not just for children any more.