In times of uncertainty, there is little more comforting than grasping the tangible. This is a challenge for creatives and creatives-at-heart as we find ourselves spatially restricted from many artistic endeavors and discoveries.
But if there is something we learned about creativity this year, it is that creativity has no time and place. In fact, the past year has encouraged us to forge a new path for creative discovery—one that doesn’t rely on the whens and the wheres but rather allows us to carve out a creative space for ourselves.
In the spirit of new creative pursuits, we talk to some fellow creatives about how their craft has helped them deal with life indoors and, if you’re interested, how you can get started, too.
Surrender Control with Pottery
Pottery is another traditional practice that many people find intimidating at first, but Reine of Kibō Studio says that no experience in art is necessary for those wishing to make their own ceramic pieces. What’s important, she shares, is being comfortable with the process of learning a new craft. This sense of openness is very easy to find in her classes, which are often filled with people from different backgrounds all looking to learn something new together.
Being a natural material means that clay sometimes feels like it has a mind of its own. Pottery forces the maker to surrender some control to this tricky matter to find the balance of challenge and calm.
“[Pottery] teaches me how to adapt to the situation of my work, knowing what I can fix and accepting what I can’t.”
Slowing down and being present, both common themes in pottery, are concepts we’re all still trying to grasp. For potters, the craft is a constant reminder of finding joy in the ordinary. Clay, after all, is a simple material that comes from earth—but it is also out of clay that we take our morning coffee, house nature indoors, and build the safe spaces we call home.
Kibō Studio offers regular basic hand-building pottery workshops and recently added a painting pottery class for those who wish to dive deeper into the craft. Both workshops are done through Zoom and can be signed up for through a link on their Instagram.
Consume Consciously with Candle Making
The comeback of candles has been long in the making, and it has finally arrived in the time of quarantine. Most candle users would know how quickly it becomes an expensive habit. Not as many users, however, know that making one is an easy task that’s even easier on the wallet.
Hazel from Katha shares that aside from being able to save some money, crafting your own candle is also an easy way to be more conscious of the decisions you make daily. As opposed to purchasing, taking the time to make something from scratch and subsequently using it is regular reminder to be more mindful of the little things you do everyday and how they add up. And the gratitude it makes you feel for the small things, she adds, is a definite moodlifter that makes quarantine life a little bit better.
“…there is a different kind of appreciation when you know how things are made, even more so if you know who made [them].”
Aside from candle making classes, KatHa also offers a basic wood crafting workshop and a series of coffee classes. In line with their advocacy of conscious consumerism, each class is rooted in the idea of appreciating the daily things in life a bit more. Sign-ups are available on their website.
Embrace Imperfections with Risograph Printing
Risograph printing is a process where each color is printed separately on top of each other, often causing colored layers to be slightly misaligned. For most people, this is seen as a lack of perfection, an indisputable flaw. Yet upon closer inspection, it is this charming characteristic that brings life to Risograph prints in the first place.
Local Risograph press and design studio Bad Student has this appreciation for imperfection built into their DNA. Their name, ironic considering how good they are at what they do, acknowledges the feeling of being lost when learning something new. Much like risograph printing, in fact, Bad Student embraces mistakes made as part of the process. As something normal, okay, and even welcome.
“Risograph [printing] has a way of teaching us how to deal with uncertainties and flaws and it makes us appreciate the beauty in the things we can’t control —whether in your art or life in general.”
With Risograph printing, you’ll never get what most people would call a perfect print even after countless tries. But look at any Risograph print and the solution is clear—a print doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be beautiful.
Bad Student occasionally holds online Risograph workshops. They will also be one of the exhibitors during Printed Matter’s Virtual Art Book Fair on February 24-28, 2021, where they will be hosting on open studio, a live Riso printing, mini workshops, and book signings for people to experience Risograph Printing in person. (Slots for these events are limited.) Follow them on Instagram for updates.
Stay present with weaving
THE ART OF YARN
The first image that comes to mind when talking about weaving is of a loom too big to fit in most urban homes. Modern weaving, shares Judith from The Art of Yarn, is “a contemporary take on weaving that uses compact tools to recreate the traditional weaving process.” The loom itself is only 12in x 15in, around two sheets of A4 paper side by side. Many people also find the process of weaving daunting. And while even Judith admits that it is complicated, she finds it important to remind people that weaving is, like most traditional practices, a slow craft that requires slow practice.
Taking things one step at a time is never an easy feat in our fast-paced world. Even Judith, with years of experience, shares that she struggled to get back into weaving the first few months of quarantine. Over time, crafting became an important part of her healing process. It also allowed her to connect with people through online Weave Along sessions that she conducts to catch up with friends, past students, and new people—proof that creativity needs no time and place to bring people together.
“I emphasize the need to take the learning slow and to appreciate the whole process, for [students] to also recognize the hard work behind the traditional practice.”
Maximize Limits with Leather Crafting
SOUL FLOWER, CO.
Having all the necessary materials, and of course proper instruction, is a main concern when learning a new craft remotely. After more than 5 years of teaching leather crafting, Pat of Soul Flower shares that this was initially a challenge for her too. Being forced to transition online, however, reminded her of something important—that you can do a lot with a little space and a small box of tools.
Pat was able to finish a bag while in quarantine despite only having a few tools and materials. Similarly, many of the studio’s students share the same penchant for productivity and are able to produce multiple items with the carefully planned kits that come with their classes. But it’s not some superpower that allows them to craft all these leather pieces from their limited materials. Rather, it is the refusal to let limitations dampen their spirit to create.s
“If there’s anything I learned while pursuing my craft in quarantine, it’s that you don’t need much to be productive.”
Soul Flower offers basic leather crafting workshops both on- and offline, as well as specialized classes focusing on different bags and small leather goods for those looking to dive deeper into the craft. Their co-owner and resident metal smith Janina also conducts silversmithing classes through sister brand Studio 925.
Welcome the Unknown with Dyeing
In times of uncertainty, we tend to stay away from anything that can’t be predicted. But sometimes, it’s in the unexpected that we can find comfort in the unknown.
Dyeing is one such craft that sees unplanned results as surprises—there is no way to perfectly predict how a piece will turn out. But according to Kat from Likhaan, just as you can expect each piece to vary can you also expect each piece to leave you in awe.
“[Dyeing] brings a level of openness as you let go of any expectations and let nature work its way.”
Dyeing, as with many forms of art, leaves us with an overwhelming amount of possibilities. Creativity and openness, however, can turn the fear of the unknown into a sense of excitement for what is yet to be.
Likhaan’s three beginner-friendly craft kits—The Kulay Natural Dyeing Kit, the Paraluman Air Dry Clay Kit, and the Paraiso Floral Resin kit—are all crafted in partnership with local artists. All three kits are available for sale on their website.
Foster Love and Care with Urban Gardening
While not exactly a creative hobby, growing plants feels like an art form on its own. Urban gardening quietly gained traction at the start of quarantine when food security became a concern for many households. Brands like Qubo, with beginner-friendly garden kits, have even made this green venture easy for many reluctant urbanites.
But growing your own food provides more than just utilitarian benefits. Just as you care for a plant that will, from a culinary point of view, also care for you, the very process of growing and caring for plants provides a mental health benefit that is often overlooked. As Mackie of Qubo points out, the care you instill in growing a plant often impacts how you care for yourself. Nurturing a plant may seem like but a small step. Yet, with the right care, it can likewise bloom into something that thrives.
“Having a living, breathing thing to care for really does help in grounding you and fostering positive feelings of love, responsibility, and patience—traits that will prove instrumental to keeping one’s self sane during quarantine.”
Join over thousands of urban gardeners growing their favorite herbs with Qubo’s DIY garden kits. For gardeners worried about not having access to enough sunlight, they also have a new line of compact grow lights called “Lampara.” All Qubo items are available for purchase on their website.
It’s difficult to properly recreate the feeling of being surrounded by people with shared interests, but it doesn’t mean that creativity has to come to a standstill. This list, though far from exhaustive, is proof that being apart doesn’t mean losing the sense of community and collective creativity we crave. Rather, it’s simply about finding new ways to explore new things—and maybe allowing them to help us cope with our new lives in the process.
Thanks to the following for sharing their insights and thoughts with us. Send some love their way through the links below!
Romina Nañagas of MAD Travel and MAD Market
Jacqe Gutierrez of Happy Skin and BLK Cosmetics
Maika Cruz of Sandy Cheeks, Sandy Kicks, and Sandy Cooks
Jason Go of Manila Creamery
Gabrielle Javier of Wabi Sabi
Fed Pua of It’s Vintage
Bianca Larranaga of Wanderskye