Why We Love DIY

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6682450721_cc676aea66_zsource: Natalia Wilson

A friend of mine gave me a window cling set the last week. It came with four outline-printed window clings and a set of puffy paints.

At first, the set reminded me of coloring I did as a child, and I thought it juvenile. But later that evening, before going to bed, I tried it out.

Two minutes in, and I was completed addicted.

For the next three days I spent all my free time working on the project. The result, when completed, went proudly onto the front of my fridge.

As much as I enjoyed the project, it got me thinking: Why would an adult enjoy such a mundane activity? In fact, why do adults enjoy DIY at all?

This is what I realized –

  • DIY offers us an opportunity to be creative. Even the window clings, with their pre-chosen paints, was an opportunity for creativity. I chose the color combination to use on each cling. I decided where the colors would be placed.
  • DIY offers us an opportunity for problem solving. I had only the palette my friend had chosen. I didn’t love the colors but I wasn’t about to purchase more. I had to deal with the problem of making something beautiful from very limited resources (Solution: I blended the puffy paints).
  • DIY offers us a way to relax. Once the colors were chosen, there was something very mindless about applying them to the clings. I felt myself drifting into a kind of alternate state.
  • DIY offers us a feeling of accomplishment. I felt good that I was able to keep the paint within the intricate line drawing. I enjoyed feeling that I had very steady hands. It’s a small ability, but it still makes me feel special.
  • DIY allows us the opportunity for social approval. I placed the clings in a public spot. I have already received compliments on them several times and I expect to get quite a few more. Even as an adult, compliments feel nice.

Why We Love DIYsource: Kat Stan

Why is any of this important?

It’s useful for DIYers to realize that there are ways of increasing the enjoyment they get from their hobbies. Hobbies, by their nature are fun, but there are things we can choose to do that can make them even more fun.

Here a couple of basic principles:

1 – Make sure the project has at least one creative element. Even if you are following written instructions, or a pattern, there is always something you can do to put your own distinctive “signature” on the project.

I once made a lime green tunic shirt from a purchased pattern (back when that color was still popular).  I didn’t know enough about sewing to alter the pattern, but I did choose to go against the pattern suggestions, and use a contrasting trim. I chose black fabric for the pockets and collar and black buttons for the closures.

2 – Add a problem solving element to the project, if it doesn’t come naturally. To do this, make artificial restrictions on either materials, time frame, size, etc.

My favorite class in college was 3D Design. Instead of just giving us projects to complete, the teacher would assign parameters that required real thought to work around. For instance, a sculpture couldn’t be touched with human hands; only with plastic bags. Or, an art kite had to actually be able to fly.

Other crafts, especially on the internet, focus on using found objects or recycled materials only.

3 – Pick a project that varies levels of difficulty throughout. This way you alternate periods of hard work, moderate, and easy work, during the same session.

That’s what I like about ceramics. You start by pounding the clay. Then you build a rough basic form. Only at the end, does the clay require real detail and thought as you put on the finishing touches.

4 – Use your skills. You’ll feel better about your work if it uses some level of skill.  Notice I said skill, not talent. Usable skills can consist of the ability to follow intricate directions, to measure and cut wood accurately,  or in my case with the window clings, simply to stay within the lines.

5 – Allow others to view your finished project. I once made a needlepoint for my son and his new wife. The kit itself was probably only a 20-30 dollars, but I spent over a $100 to frame it.

The reason? I didn’t want the needlepoint shoved into the closet and forgotten. Instead, I wanted it on a wall, where it could be admired.

Why We Love DIYsource: J. Feist

What tips did I miss? Please share your tip by adding a comment below!

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