Sunday, July 7, 2013


It's coming up on the second anniversary of this blog. First of all, thank you for reading! Although I have always enjoyed talking to myself, I must admit it is gratifying to know that you all find the stuff I do interesting.

I always figured that the most common reaction to my blog would be people asking me "Where do you get your ideas?" but that's not it. The most common reaction is a look of bewildered wonder, followed by "How do you learn to make all this stuff?"

Society today conditions us from an early age to believe we can't do things, or that certain things take years of study or training to accomplish. We buy things from stores because they are readily available and we have been taught that making things is hard, takes a long time, requires costly tools and materials, and good results  are only achieved after long practice. And in some cases, that is certainly true. I'm sitting here at a computer that I certainly could not build on my own without extensive schooling, complicated materials, and precision tools.

But look at society in earlier centuries: very few things, if any, were bought ready-made. Wool from sheep was spun into yarn and cloth to make clothing, bags, and blankets. Rushes from the riverbanks were cut and made into mats, baskets, brooms, and hats. Flax was cultivated, retted, and spun into thread for linen. Grain crops made flour for baking. Trees were felled and became homes and furniture, handles for tools, fences, carts and wagons. Hunting provided meat for the table, along with the animals in the croft outside. If you had someone who could run a forge and make things from iron, you were pretty much set!

If you look at basic tools from then and compare them to now, they are much the same. Hammers, saws, and axes; needles, scissors, and looms. They haven't changed because they haven't needed to; their use is simple. If these tools had been difficult to use or took years to learn, they would not have survived so long. No one would have bothered!

This is not to say that skill in use cannot be increased over time. Certainly, someone who has practiced a craft for years and developed their technique will produce a more refined result than a beginner. But these tools and techniques survive because common folk with basic skills can produce results that are adequate for use. For example: the tunic pattern we've all seen. A length for the body and two smaller ones for sleeves worked together with a basic stitch -- this made a perfectly good garment in reasonable time, allowing the maker to create clothing for the whole family.

I'm going on and on, here, but what I want you to realize is that it's usually not that difficult to make stuff! And once you get it into your head that you can make things, it's almost a game to see what you want to try to make next.

In the words of Jonathan Coulton, in his song "A Talk with George":

So enjoy yourself, do the things that matter
Cause there isn't time and space to do it all
Love the things you try, drink a cocktail, wear a tie
Show a little grace if you should fall

Don't live another day unless you make it count
There's someone else that you're supposed to be
Something deep inside of you that still wants out
And shame on you if you don't set it free!

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