I've been feeling itchy lately.
Now, before you rush to email me and let me know that I really should see a doctor about that, let me clarify that I'm talking about a creative itch.
I've being feeling like making something creative using a different medium or technique than the ones I normally use, but no particular project came to mind.
When I looked around my studio, I realized I'd never made the felted owl project that I purchased as a kit a couple of years ago.
I've taken a couple of needle felting classes over the years and wanted to try something on my own. Needle felting is rather meditative as there's lots of repetitive action using a needle to join the wool fibers together.
My Felted Owl
The great thing about kits is that they are self-contained craft experiences. Everything you need is contained inside most kits. The only thing that this kit did not contain was an optional piece of cardboard to protect your work surface beyond the material provided. I liked that this owl kit had both clear written instructions and step photos. (Yes, that's an Amazon affiliate link. If enough readers make a purchase, I can afford a cup of coffee. Woo-hoo!)
This kit used a mold to make the body of the owl. I've used wire armatures in the other animals that I've made. I don't know why I never thought about using a mold to construct parts, but now that I've done it once I feel I could do it again with another creature of my own. That is definitely one of the benefits of kits and classes: you learn someone else's techniques that you might never have thought of by yourself.
Here's a look at the owl in the middle of its construction:
(This photo looks a little gruesome to me, the aftermath of some felted owl tragedy. Don't worry. As you can see from the photo at the top of this blog post, everything turns out okay.)
The instructions say that this kit takes 6-8 hours. That might seem like a long time, but you don't have to do it all at once. What I did was to sit down with a podcast every day and worked on my project for a half hour to an hour. When the time was up, I put it away. The instructions and photos made it easy to pick up at the next step.
Why Buy a Craft Kit?
Would you enjoy a craft kit? I don't make that many projects from kits, but I do find them fun occasionally. Here's what I like about them:
- It's a great way to test out a completely new art form. Since everything is (usually) included, you don't have to worry about buying a lot of supplies you'll never use again in case you don't enjoy the process.
- Sometimes it's nice to have a starting point for a project. Once you begin, you might find that your muse wakes up and has some ideas on how to put your own special stamp on a project. (The felted heart in the photo above was not included in the kit. I also skipped a couple of steps. You can see the photo of what the finished owl was supposed to look like if you want to compare.)
- The limited number of materials means that you don't have to stay stuck in the idea phase forever. It also means that you won't second-guess yourself about design decisions or have the project grow out of control. There is a finite ending in sight!
- Since you don't have to worry about making (or photographing step-by-step pieces if you're an instructor), you're free to let your mind wander or use the time to listen to books on tape, music, or podcasts. It's nice to occasionally let another designer take the driver's seat.
- Kits are widely available in major craft stores, small independent shops, and online. Most smaller shops seem to carry a completely different set of kits, many made by individuals or very small businesses. This is a great way to support a small craft business.
While in-person or video classes have certain advantages (asking the teacher questions or being able to view the steps endlessly), I find that a kit is the perfect halfway point between a class and a completely original project. You have the guidance of the written instructions and limited materials, but you still can make a few decisions, particularly in making optional parts or deviating from the written plan.
In short, it may be just what you need to ease yourself back on a creative path.