At the intersection of craft and sanity

Who am I? I’m just going to say this here in the beginning. This post won’t be for everyone here. It’s not really about art, craft, or shibori, per se, but it touches on it and really is about balance, mental health, creativity, and life in general.

Maybe it is for everyone, come to think of it. But if you are here just for the shibori, then feel free to click away- I take no offense. Yes, this is already starting out as a weird post don’t you think?

This is a post I’ve often thought about writing over the years and actually it has been touched upon here and there. I might describe it as the intersection of craft and sanity.

Once upon a time there was a little red-headed child. Life was confusing. It was apparent from an early time to this child that she was pretty much on her own in many ways and needed a way to be balanced and stay sane. It was an intuitive thought, not verbally or even mentally articulated, but it was more a feeling of survival. As time passed, the child was more and more stressed due to issues within the family. Stress did not feel good. The child discovered that creating felt good! The child’s intuitive self awakened to this and made creating a way of life, not really knowing all this on an intellectual level, but only in an instinctual sort of way.
Stress=feeling bad, creating=feeling good.
So the child learned to spend more time in that creativity space. This way, life was livable!

Now I am not suggesting that in order to be creative, one must have anxiety, stress, and even PTSD in your life. I would never wish that upon ANY person, and especially not a child. But we do not live perfect lives and many children experience these issues on a regular basis due to many things (even in the most seemingly “normal” life), which is why it completely exhausts me to know that many kids do not get the space they need to counteract these life problems by having time for creativity.
Creativity can be in many forms- making by hand, singing, dancing performing, cooking, playing an instrument, gardening, (even cleaning the house!) and so forth.

This little redheaded child grew up and had her own children. Seeing the dearth of art and making in their school day, the redheaded mom created a space for that. Here’s an old blog for that here. There are only 55 posts published there. I’ve often thought I should delete it, but for some reason I keep putting it off. I just reread much of it and still feel pretty much the same about what I wrote there. It’s interesting to look back and read your thoughts from 15 years ago. Prior to starting that blog as a separate entity, I was writing posts about it here on Shibori Girl. It was fairly short-lived though, as we got the ax a couple of years later. (Most of the sidebar links are dead.) I did enjoy going back and reading the comments there. Special thanks to those commenters who read and participated-many whom are still readers today! (love you guys!)

This is not limited to children by the way. I only give the above example because people often tell me things like, ” you’re so talented!”, or “I could never do that”. My inner child-self knows they are coming from a different perspective and I usually say something like “well, it’s a practice” and ” really, I think you could!” (or just “thank you”). But the inner adult-self knows that for me this came as a result of an anxiety filled life where the child learned that living in that creative space was like medicine. It was also an escape where she could lose herself, feel better, and eventually it became a practice. It became a place where I made a home and just moved in.

I have seen this in many readers here, in people I meet at workshops or at shows. I hear stories from you. I saw it in the kids from the Elementary Art experience.

What is my motivation for writing this post? I wonder myself. I guess I want to remind ourselves that we can alleviate the stress in our lives with creativity. It’s positive! There are so many ways to be creative. It’s low cost! Many public schools have cut and altered art experiences and in doing so, cut off a vehicle for better mental health and well being for kids. Not good. Kids grow into adults. Our society needs every possible tool and material in the artbox to create good mental health in our schools and in our society. I’m also motivated to “pay it forward” as it were, since I personally had a situation which allowed this possibility to exist. Many do not.

Creativity leads to wondering, wondering can identify issues and problems and lead to solutions. Thusly, the algebraic equation is something like:

Creativity + Wonder = Solutions

We can see the results of the loss of factory production in the US. The loss of jobs where people produced things with their hands has left many jobless or in jobs that don’t give this sort of satisfaction and stimulation. Working with your hands stimulates chemicals in your brain (endorphins) that make you feel good. There are many studies about how working and creating with your hands benefits your overall health-both body and mind. You can be young or old for this to work. You don’t have to make it your career, you can practice it to the degree in which you choose. Like medicine, not everyone takes the same prescription or dosage.

These past couple of years have brought us new worries and stresses. We grieve the losses in our lives. There are new divisions. The recent stirrings of war…

It’s the perfect time to create and work with your hands. It can calm the mind, teach new skills, and point in new directions.

I’m going to just leave it at this for now. Isn’t it enough? And yes, I’m celebrating circles having completed another trip around the sun (or 834 moon trips around the planet if you’re keeping track…). So perhaps all this meandering is just part of that….

amazing to think that Paul MaCartney wrote this when he was 15 or 16!

No pictures, just thoughts this time…next post it’s back to “regular programming”, whatever that is!

25 thoughts on “At the intersection of craft and sanity

  1. Toni Belonogoff

    And many schools no longer teach cursive (handwriting) any more – just printing. Another form of creativity is being denied to children. I woke up this morning needing to do something creative (after the horrible news from Europe – Ukraine). I immediately got out the gel-plate and created some mono-prints. Next step: a Putin voodoo doll.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. SusanIrene

    Thank you for your post. I too was a little red-haired girl who found escape and peace in creating. This led me to a very fulfilling career in costume design, history and construction and teaching others.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gaylyn777gmailcom

    Love it! Love you!
    Thank you for sharing you thoughts and experiences. This post was medicine for me!
    I am grateful for the context.
    So grateful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. vivian383

    Thank you for putting thoughts into words. I have been creating-sewing and now quilting since I was 10 and now well into my 60’s. It has saved my sanity. It is my escape, my place of safety, where my mind can “spin freely” and often solve problems, or not, but it always calms me, and soothes my soul. If I can’t go there every day, I long for it, and feel out of sorts. So mental health wise, it is very necessary to have a creative outlet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. shiborigirl Post author

      We share circle space on this for sure. I also get antsy if I haven’t been in the garden! Just a mindless 15 minutes looking, listening and planting a seed is good medicine.


  5. Liz A

    Well, Happy Birthday Season … a good time for looking back and looking forward … a time for celebration of self and sanity and saving graces … and yes, I join Mo in a deep bow to the Queen of Blue Moons … long may your indigo vat prosper

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nancy

    Glennis~ Thank you for the sharing, the bravery, the welcoming of this post and the comments. Little girls who get lost in making or in nature…in making shoebox habitats for the millions of ‘pill’ bugs who reside in the moist, clover edges of the grass. I can still feel that earth, smell it as I pulled it back from the wood boarder…searching, searching.
    I remember when the prescribed art of Monart came to the elementary school, I was grateful in two ways. I was so glad that my children had lots of ‘stuff to be creative with’ at home – a good fit for my daughter…and glad they provided Something in the school that gave others (my son) ways to make and feel competent, a base to possibly ‘more’ making.
    Blessings to you at this time of Birthday Celebrating and always. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Marti

    Salutations on your trips around the sun and Feliz Cumpleanos and deep gratitude for your important words here; I was one of those little girls whose immigrant mother (Spain) wanted her to embroider, crochet, etc.; whose immigrant father wanted her to help him in the garden…guess which one won!

    To put my hands in dirt, is to feel replenished, is to care for and feel cared for by the land…I also loved to draw and the local butcher would save long pieces of butcher wrap to give to my Dad so my sister and I could draw. We grew up with not much money but rich in love, good food grown in our garden and always, crayola crayons!

    Your words are so moving: children need the arts, children need that time to explore what is bursting inside of them, children need the play of paper and scissors and paints and crayons and so many creative outlets. In the third grade, I had such a teacher. I loved to draw so she chose me to draw the monthly theme on our bulletin board. My grand kids have been fortunate to attend schools where time for art and dance and music has always been present.

    Now at 74, what has helped my sanity and deal lat times with the despair at this world we live in is this: my crayola crayons are my dye pots and my butcher paper are my thrift store white recycled cloths that I color and mark with the windfall that I find from the land. One thing that has remained constant is dance – it is my go to for joy, for sorrow, for anger and for just sheer abandoned exuberance…my parents loved to dance and watching them just fed this in me. Having a circle of good woman who speak of what matters to them, who share their caring and knowledge, such as yourself, is part of the creative dance that so feeds my soul. Thank you for being here Glennis.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. shiborigirl Post author

      Thanks for sharing your story here too. I used to keep a big roll of butcher paper and would line the fences in the yard with it in summertime. Had cups of tempra paints and brushes and the kids would paint with hearts abandoned. In the end we’d just hose them all off before sending them home! What fun! Butcher paper memories!

      Liked by 1 person


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