Over the Thanksgiving holiday I attended the Hop and Shop, Christmas Arts and Craft Event at the Gaw Center for the Arts in Union City. What an immense amount of diverse talent there is in our local area. I love attending craft events and seeing the products of motivated creativity; it’s quite fascinating to me. I am lured by the specialness of one-of-a-kind items that are a pure expression of presence and listening to one’s intuition. As a fellow crafter, I can say that it is hard work, especially if you are doing it to produce a sellable amount of items; but personally, it often feels almost meditative to go into that creative, focused space.
Every Christmas I make a special gift for the dogs and families of my dog walking pack. Each year all of the dogs receive a personalized, embroidered holiday bandana. I have the most incredible software that lets me custom create an endless amount of designs to settle on that year’s unique creation. It always includes the dog’s name, and some clever Christmas design that I have tweaked and specialized to sass up my dearest pals. Each bandana takes about ninety minutes to make, not including the design time; it’s a labor of love.
And then there are the handmade family gifts. Over the years I’ve invested so much love into making such creations as: a recipe book featuring hundreds of canine treats with all of the recipe names adjusted to feature each dog, family member, our neighborhood streets, and surrounding parks; along with a hundred or so photos of all the dogs, taken throughout the years, laid out throughout the pages. The final product was printed at the photo center and put into a red or green binder with a bone cookie cutter attached. I won’t tell you how many months that took to make. Oh, and then there was the clothespin wreaths – thank you, Pinterest! Each clothes pin was individually covered with varying holiday cardstock paper and placed on a metal wreath base in a unique design, complete with a giant sequined bow and sparkly ornament. They were really nifty! Last year I custom designed, on my vinyl cutting software, a placard that read, “Merry Christmas! Is that you Santa Paws? I’ve been a very good boy! Love, Benson.” I made one for each dog family. It’s been so rewarding to see them up this past week as people decorate their homes for the holidays. The list goes on and on! I love making homemade gifts of all kinds and pushing myself creatively to see what I can come up with.
When crafting, there is a point where your mind is quieted, and you go into a creative space within yourself to feel out where your project needs to go next. Inevitably, when resolving an issue with something not going exactly as planned, that is when you surprise yourself with the greatest ideas. This is when you’ve allowed yourself to stray from the recipe of the project and you’ve now interjected your own creativity and stamp on the project. This is when the magic happens.
Last year, my brother, Scott, hand-carved and stained a wooden sign for me, made-up of individual blocks, spelling out the word “Diddy.” Diddy is my word for dog, and it’s often what I called my dog, Mahleep, who passed away. She was my Diddy dog. That’s why my dog walking business is The Diddy Club, and my bandana business is Diddy Dog Designs. When you make a gift, you don’t have to read a thousand Hallmark cards to find the right one; you write the card, and it always says exactly what your heart means. There is no way any store bought item can even compare, because creating it yourself allows your soul to shine through.
I realize many people feel they are not crafty, but I beg to differ. There are millions of crafts out there to try. I encourage you to search on Pinterest for Christmas crafts. You’d be amazed by what might draw you in. I never thought I’d enjoy sewing and embroidering, but I was inspired by the dogs, and learned the needed skills to see my ideas come to life, and celebrate my love for them. Give it a shot. Set aside a few hours to see what you can create, and allow your intuition to guide you. Remember, the beauty of anything handmade does not reside in its perfection. Perfection is not the point. When you spend several hours focused, handcrafting something for someone you care about, that is where the genuine, creative perfection lies.