With school about to start, many of us will reluctantly put down the crafting supplies, thinking we can’t fit projects into hectic school-day routines. I sat down with Bernadette Noll and Kathie Sever, authors of Make Stuff Together: 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family, to see how they inspire themselves and their families to keep the creativity flowing.
Q: The school year is about to start. How do you find time to create as a family during the hectic school months?
A: We start off with our big back-to-school clothes swap, which is pretty darn creative with sewing stations and screen printers. During the school year the crafting/creating comes in starts and stops, and we go for weeks without making. But we do try to integrate some creativity into the work assigned to them. We have found that MOST teachers (not all!) appreciate a little creative expression interjected into even the most mundane of assignments. It took a little convincing on our part to let our children see that, but now they mostly appreciate it.
Q: You’re both experienced crafters. Has including your families in your creative projects changed how you approach crafting?
A: It has really expanded our possibilities. We love to find old children’s craft books in the thrift store from the 60s and 70s and get ideas from there for new projects. I don’t think I would have found these at all if I didn’t have children. Also, my children come to the table with their own ideas, which then feed my own ideas, which then feed their ideas and so on and so on. We all learn so much from watching and crafting with each other.
Q: What has surprised you most about working with your children?
A: How hard it was in the beginning to let go of our own vision and let them have their own. Then, once we really learned the importance of that, just how many amazing ideas they have. Not all of our kids are into crafting, but when they are, they blow my mind.
Q: What are the top things to keep in mind when working with the whole family?
A: Let go of your vision to some degree. If you can’t let go, then make your own. Sit back and watch when you can. Don’t hover over your child’s process. Give them a leg up when they need it and mostly, remember that the process is the goal. Do you want to have a perfect finished project? Or do you want to be connected?
Q: I know this is like being asked to name a favorite child, but which project in the book ended up being your favorite?
A: I love the Appreciation Banner for what it brings to the household. Amping up the appreciation really can shift negative feelings and definitely amps up the joy factor!
Q: If a reader has not yet begun to include her or his family in their projects, do you have any words of encouragement?
A: Let go. Start small. Keep your work sessions age appropriate as far as time is concerned. Eat protein. Breathe deeply. If you have a hard time letting go of your vision of the finished piece, then make your own first or alongside your child’s project. Remember that the joy and connection is in the process not in the finished piece.