Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seeing the Possibilities

Recycle Craft - Candy Wrapper Flowers
Regardless of ancestry, our forebears were not wasteful people. Though necessity, they saw endless possibilities in the cast-off waste items, such as corn husks, wheat stalks, or deer hooves.

The Seneca used the inedible dry corn husks to create dolls, mats, containers, and more. The Europeans used wheat and oat straw for similar purposes. Go the world over and you will find countless other such examples of this inventive re-purposing.

And in looking around the world, you will also find that many of these examples of re-purposing have grown not only into cherished traditional crafts and arts, they have become elements of the culture that created them. Many have created dolls from dried plant materials to be sure, but what is more Haudenosaunee than a faceless cornhusk doll? 

Whether it was generations of farming traditions or grandparents living through hard times like the Depression and post-WWI Germany, the "do-it-yourself" and "waste-nothing" attitudes were deeply ingrained in me while growing up. Being wasteful was just behind poor hospitality and dishonesty as sins in my house. Saving things that could some day be used was expected.

Many people in both my extended and immediate family have artistic and musical talents - with many varied paths of expression though. I'm no exception to my family and have my own talents. While I certainly can draw and paint, it is not my forte or my greatest love. But crafts - and I have tried many, are. I have tried so many different arts that I usually tell people that blowing glass and casting metal are two of the only ones I haven't tried.

I started my own journey as a craftsman and artisan at 8 years old. In those days, I had no money and no access to craft stores even if I did. So in a day when no one recycled, I did. I saw the possibilities in items destined for the garbage can. I saved them and literally had boxes of those "recycled" supplies.

Now many decades later with access to craft stores and the money for supplies, I still see with those same eyes. I can still see the possibilities lying below the surface of what others would call trash. Perhaps you can too. Here are the instructions for creating a whole bouquet of candy wrapper flowers that I came up with on Valentine's Day a few years ago. I hope you enjoy this and start your own eyes looking for those possibilities!


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