Now that I’m looking back at 2020 I’m discovering that I created more than I thought during the year. So much was happening, and worrisome, and strange that I just lost track of a lot of it. I’m slowly posting all of the art, though I still have almost a dozen more items to go. This post is a little different – it’s about the weird craft stuff I focused on as an escape.
Crafts are what kept me connected, artistically, when the bulk of my time went to product design – before I chose a better balance between my design practice and my art starting in 2014. I tend not to post the craft stuff these days because I’ve been able to make so much more progress with art. 2020 threw that all off, where everything – the design work, the art opportunities, and just living – was urgent and exhausting. I found comfort in these crafts.
In early March 2020, we just started seeing the danger of COVID-19 in the U.S. Right before the CA instituted a shelter-in-place to tamp down the spread, I started hearing about medical personnel reusing and running out of protective equipment – enough that they were starting to use homemade cloth masks that could be washed and reused. As I read more, I discovered the effort Masks for Docs and a pattern that was simple enough for my (rusty) sewing machine skills.
As I’d read conflicting things about the best designs, I decided to practice by making an initial batch for my immediate family and friends. I had enough material on hand: two bolts of fabric I’d bought in Hawaii, two unused flat sheets, and just enough elastic. I slowly re-learned how to use the sewing machine, and was able to make & mail (or carefully drop off) the masks for people I knew. A little over a week after I sent these out, masks became recommended for the general public so I felt pretty prescient.
Since so many people started making masks, there was almost immediately an elastic shortage. After scouring various sites I put in a couple of Amazon orders (one which didn’t arrive until the end of May; one which never arrived at all). After a week I realized they may not come anytime soon, so I bought a dozen small packs of bias tape and used those to make another couple of dozen masks. Once I’d made masks for everyone I knew, and send masks off to Masks for Docs, they were just winding down their efforts so I felt the urgency to make these relax.
After a few weeks of shelter-in-place I started making and sending postcards of original art. These are watercolors, and while I liked being able to send them I had trouble making them. My art brain was very focused on mask-making.
I started digging around in closets for any materials I had on hand to work with since no fresh supplies could be obtained anytime soon. I found extra denim cutoffs from jeans and unused patches, and zippers left over from a project to make clutches that would fit the limitations of live event guidelines. Wouldn’t need that anytime soon! I made three more bags beyond what’s shown here but forgot to take photos.
“Just Enough” Journals
Further adventures in re-using materials: I started finding barely-used notebooks and sketchbooks and aggressively culling them. One had illustrated pages that were too neat to throw out, so I deconstructed the binding and created these little journals with the help of cardstock and washi tape. I used the cutoffs to make bookmarks which I gave away at Kaleid Gallery once it was able to re-open.
Jeremy got me what turned out to be a fantastically useful craft present for Christmas 2019 – a custom PaintGem kit. The art was from “The Killing Joke” and is an ambitious 16.5″ x 25″. PaintGems are tiny gem-cut bits of plastic that you place on a sticky template, and you end up with a gloriously shimmery jewelry-like image. I put many hours into this, and once it was done, I realized I still had a bunch of these “gems” left. So I used them on a few unused boxes I’d stashed away for some pixelly art.
Tiny bird frames
These are cute bird frames I got from my mom. I thought it would be odd to put photos in them, so instead I made tiny illustrations of flowers that matched their colors (and maybe they would peck at and eat).