Try online arts & crafts classes absolutely free

watercolors, brushes, and a sketchbook open to a blank page, on a wooden surface.
image by Pixabay

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This is not something I usually do, but today I’m writing a quick post to tell my readers about a great freebie from Bluprint. They’re currently running their Get Started event, and it ends Oct. 12. What this means is that ALL their classes and shows are free. Yes, I said all, and yes, I said FREE. Bluprint wants to build their membership, but they wisely realized that many people won’t want to join a service, even for a month, without first checking it out.

Between now and Oct. 12, go to their website (linked below) and register for one or more of their classes. You don’t need a coupon, and you don’t need a credit card. This isn’t one of those “free” deals where they charge your credit card if you forget to cancel within a certain time (don’t you hate those?).

Bluprint has thousands of classes on all kinds of art, craft, and DIY topics, such as sewing, baking, cake decorating, knitting, crocheting, drawing, painting, jewelry making… the list goes on. I registered for a class on metalsmithing, and I cannot wait to get started.

I did join Bluprint, because I know I’ll want to take classes and have access to their resources in the future, and I think their pricing is completely reasonable. But you totally don’t have to. You can just watch as many classes as you can manage before Oct. 12, and not join at all.

Here’s the link! Please let me know what classes you watch, and what you think of them.

Bluprint Get Started Event: Watch All Classes + Shows For Free at myBluprint.com 10/5-10/12/18. No coupon code needed.

Why Crafting is Good For Your Health

Image from Pixabay

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If you knit, scrapbook, or do any kind of craft, you know that crafting is a lot of fun and a great way to spend time (and maybe a little too much money). But did you know that crafting also has health benefits? It’s true!

Photo by Kristina Balić on Unsplash

In fact, knitting, basketweaving, and other crafts have been used for their therapeutic effects for at least a century. They were part of the occupational therapy given during and after World War I to servicemen suffering from PTSD, or “shell shock,” as it was called then. In a more contemporary example, craft stores in the US noted an uptick in sales during the weeks after September 11, 2001. What is it about crafting that makes people turn to it in times of stress?

Famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, who studies creativity and happiness, and invented the concept of flow
, believes that crafts enable people to enter a state of total absorption, which he states is the secret to happiness. Proponents of mindfulness also praise the repetitive, almost meditative nature of many crafts, which quiets the mind and helps to relieve anxiety. I’ve definitely felt this sensation when involved in knitting or sewing, and I know that engaging in creative work noticeably lessens my anxiety and depression. When I go too long without this form of self-care, my mental health suffers.

Crafting is something we can do both alone and with other people. We can cozy up and crochet in front of the TV with a cup of cocoa at our side when we need that perfect introvert evening. But if we want to get some tips, learn new skills, or show off our work to people who “get it,” hanging out with other crafters is a must. This provides meaningful social interaction, especially if you want something other than a noisy club or party.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In addition to the relaxation and mood-boosting effects of the crafting process, there is the satisfaction of the product. There’s nothing like eating a home-baked dessert, putting on a home-sewn skirt or hand-knit hat, or looking at a piece of art on the wall, and being able to say “I made that!” Making something beautiful and/or usable is an accomplishment to be proud of, and psychologists say that a feeling of self-efficacy is important to mental health.

You might have heard that crossword puzzles and brain-teasers can slow cognitive decline as people age. Neuroscientists are now studying whether crafting has a similar effect, and the results so far look promising.

Of course, you don’t need to know or care about the health benefits of crafting to enjoy it. So go ahead and learn a new craft, or spend some time on an old favorite, and have fun!

 

Makers’ Black Friday - Shop Our Biggest Sale Of The Year & Save Up To 70% On Supplies at Craftsy.com 8/3-8/6/18. No coupon code needed.

Crafting a Calling

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How do you know who you are, what you’re all about, what your talents are, your passions, your purpose? Some people can answer these questions easily, with barely a moment’s thought. Others, like myself, have a harder time. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. I don’t think we have one single grand Life Purpose, but we do have smaller purposes or callings. Things we feel we are meant to do. Things that just feel right. They don’t have to be huge, world-changing things. They just have to be meaningful to us. They also don’t have to be a lifelong endeavor. We can have multiple callings, multiple passions, throughout our lives.

Maybe your calling is to be a doula, or a school teacher. Maybe it’s to open a coffee bar. If we’re lucky, we can turn our passion into a career, but that’s not the case for many of us. We need to pay the rent, and often that means that we follow our passions outside of working hours. Maybe you volunteer at a non-profit on the weekends, helping a cause you believe in. Maybe you get up early to write fiction, or do yoga, or go for a run before hitting the office. Me, I don’t know what my passion is. I’m finding that after almost eighteen years as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m not even sure what my talents or interests are outside of parenting. I’ve heard the advice to ask myself questions such as “What do people ask me for advice on?” and “What could I give a 30-minute talk on without preparation?” My answers to those questions are all parenting-related. For years, people have asked me about breastfeeding and homeschooling. I could talk about either of those at length. I’m the friend that people tag on Facebook when they post an article about breastfeeding or homeschooling. I’m also often asked about babywearing, discipline, and other things relating to being a mom. For a while, I even ran an online forum for local, non-mainstream parents. That was rewarding and fun at the time, but now I’m trying to get back to who I am as an individual, as myself, not as someone’s mom. I love to read, do crosswords, and drink coffee, but I wouldn’t call any of those a passion for me. They’re definitely not something I want to blog about or turn into a job or career.

I do love to do crafts and DIY projects. I don’t have a whole lot of talent in this area, but I have heaps of interest. I just need to learn, to try new things, to practice. I love being creative. It’s fulfilling and a fantastic stress reliever. Maybe, if I try enough things, I’ll find an area that captivates me, and I’ll want to pursue it more deeply. Maybe I’ll be able to turn it into a career. In any case, I’ll have fun, I’ll learn new skills, I’ll make stuff. And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

Follow along on the blog as I try new things. Right now I’m in the middle of knitting a dishcloth. I’ve been knitting for years, but sporadically, and I’m somewhere between a beginner and an intermediate. I’m committing right now to knitting much more often. I’m also currently taking an online course from Sketchbook Skool called Drawing Without Talent. It’s taught by Danny Gregory, who is disarming and encouraging and makes me believe I can actually become an artist. I’ve also started listening to his new podcast, Art For All, and I’m going to check out some of his books. I have been voraciously consuming books, websites, and podcasts that discuss creativity, especially in terms of how to find and nurture the creativity within you, how to make time for creativity, and how to stop listening to and believing those voices that say “You’re no good! Who the hell do you think you are, calling yourself creative?” So these books seem right up my alley.

I’ve been wanting to learn cross-stitch or embroidery for a while, so I think that will be my next endeavor. There are several Etsy shops that sell kits for beginners. I’m going to buy one of those and get started.