6 Crafts to Cultivate Creativity This Summer
By Jane Wen, Press & Written Media Team
Although no one is particularly thrilled to hear this reminder, the summer is coming to an inevitable close, and a new school year is just around the corner. For me, this means scrambling to make the most out of these final weeks before heading off to my first year of college. When I’m not picnicking with friends or strolling around my neighborhood for the umpteenth time, I’ve been turning to crafts, a foolproof way of merging leisure and productivity. Crafting leaves me feeling well-rested, inspired and ready to take on the world. Here are some of my top recommendations for crafts that you can do from the comfort of your home, and nurture your creativity before the grind starts up once again.
1. Find yourself a pen pal.
I like to consider snail mail as the monarch of communication methods. There is nothing so intimate as keeping a handwritten correspondence with someone, allowing a glimpse into each other’s thoughts laid out honestly and permanently on paper. You could write to the recipient about whatever’s on your mind. Perhaps you can write about how much they mean to you, or something you’ve been wondering about them or even just describe how your day has been. Afterwards, I tend to stuff the envelopes with miscellaneous items such as washi tape, stickers, origami, dried flowers, Polaroid photos, tea bags or snacks. If you’re not up for this, e-mailing is a great alternative. To expand your horizons, you could do a quick search for initiatives that connect you to local seniors at retirement homes or even people around the globe (e.g. Slowly, an app that provides a means to network globally through letters and stamp collecting); you could learn about different languages, cultures and the stories that people have to share. The pandemic has been a source of much loneliness — but we can keep the conversations going.
2. Chalk up the sidewalk.
This classic pastime is an opportunity to immerse yourself back into your childhood. Whenever I think of those vibrant strokes of color on the pavement, I can almost feel the sun burning on my back and the sound of my classmates’ laughter at recess. Scope out your neighborhood to find a spot where you can draw in peace, like a patch of cement near a playground. Then, let your imagination run wild with doodles, portraits and maybe interactive illustrations like hopscotch courts. If you aren’t using water-based or non-toxic chalks, try your best to clean up after yourself, as most sidewalk chalks contain chemicals that could contaminate waterways if washed away by rain.
3. Paint literally anything.
Recently, I’ve realized that I don’t have to limit my choice of canvas. Everything can become a canvas: bookmarks, color chips, phone cases, jackets, mirrors, CDs, tote bags. The creative process is meant to help us loosen our restraints and free ourselves, and I’ve discovered that sometimes, changing up the perspective a little is an effective method of defeating art block. When I let my art permeate these minor niches of my daily life, I feel more in tune with my surroundings, as if I’ve truly made them my own. It would be a good idea to ensure you’re using a suitable type of paint, though — for instance, painting clothes might fare better with fabric paint, while acrylics might work for harder surfaces and so on. The items you paint can be personalized as gifts for your loved ones as well!
4. Capture your life in a time capsule.
As a recently-graduated high school senior, a number of my friends have lamented about not having written anything to their future selves when they were younger. Therefore, I take it upon myself to ask anyone reading this article to make a time capsule, especially if you’re embarking on a new journey, whether it be related to education, relationships, careers, etc. In the future, you’ll be able to look back at this snapshot of who you were, and reflect on how much you’ve grown. I wrote a short message to myself a few months ago, and when I finally got the notification and read it, I was incredibly touched, so imagine how I’d react if I were to open a whole box of memorabilia. Here are some objects apart from a letter that you could put in your time capsule: photos of friends and family, magazine clips, an all-about-me summary, receipts, tickets, graduation tassels, yearbooks, diary pages and the list goes on. They may seem mundane now, but years down the line, who knows how important they’ll become?
5. Make some DIY bling.
Think bead rings, embroidery bracelets and clay earrings — the do-it-yourself scene is taking the world by storm, and rightfully so, with its refreshing and relaxing charisma. The best part about it is that you can now accessorize to your heart’s content at a relatively affordable price. Simply visit your local craft or dollar store to grab some materials, and search up tutorials depending on whatever you’d like to make. Personalize your jewelry with the colors, shapes and designs that speak to you. I’ve found beads to be exceptionally fun to work with, despite the number of times I’ve spilled them on the floor and broken my heart over my own clumsiness. Although handmade jewelry may not be the high-end, delicate, 24-karat valuables we see behind glass cases, I would argue that they’re all the more special.
6. Crochet away.
If you spend as much time on Pinterest as me, you might already be familiar with the slew of crocheted garments there, from animal-themed hats to chunky, floral cardigans. The portable hobby calls for some basic supplies, including a crochet hook, a yarn needle, some yarn, scissors, measuring tape and stitch markers. It may take some time and effort to pick up, but not only will you end up with a soft, lovely piece of handiwork, but according to Dr. Herbert Benson — a trailblazer in mind-body medicine — the repetitive movements involved can also reduce your stress hormone levels and boost your immune system. Crocheting will give you the sense of calm, balance and focus that we often crave in the fast-paced environments we experience on a daily basis.
If you’re in need of an outlet to express who you are, to release your anxieties or to break free from an unmotivated slump, I highly suggest giving these activities a try. It’s important not to underestimate the importance of creative self-care as we begin the transition into a new season and a new chapter of our lives.
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