Making and Doing, Creating and Sub-Creating

I love the idea of a self-sustaining hobby. In order for that to work out, however, I would need to be more determined in the promotional department. I am not. But once in a while, someone asks me to make them some cards, and offers to pay for them. And every once in a while, I let them.

I had a charming moment with my uncle last week. I had made graduation announcements for my little cousin, and the happy result of that was a pressing need for “thank you” cards. This may be my favorite little nicety, the “thank you” card. I make and use a lot of them. It’s probably my mom’s fault. But now it’s so engrained as a simple gesture that people really appreciate, I keep some in my desk at work as well as a pretty big stash at home so that I can write a little note whenever the occasion arises. People are pretty cool; the occasion arises frequently.

So naturally I was happy to encourage my cousin in her quest to be visibly grateful. I made her ten different styles. It was a blast, and my first creative project of the summer. When my uncle insisted on paying me, I used the money in less than an hour to order a new, elaborate stamp and die set, and I was reminded of one of my core values: encourage the makers—of clever, useful things, of crafts, of art, of music, of story. Makers make the world much more palatable.

My uncle recounted his relationship with his mom, my grandmother, who crocheted covered hangers by the score when her hands were feeling good, and quilted when they weren’t. He would “sell” these covered hangers for her and give Grandma some money, with which she bought more yarn. (This really entailed giving cushy hangers as gifts to all his co-workers and friends by the dozen, until they all had more than they could use and told him to stop).

Yep. I recognize the pattern. It’s a good hobby, especially for a teacher who used her head all day long and then wanted to relax by using her hands and resting her head. Boy, do I get that.

Really, though, there are lots of different kinds of “makers.”

Musicians make music, for instance. One of the things I insist on when we travel is tipping the street musicians and other performers. My kids got to the point where they started asking for some money as soon as we heard them in the distance. Whenever I can, I buy handmade items and art, craft beer and homemade jam, and, in addition to books, art supplies are my favorite gifts to give. Anything to keep that good juju going.

I have talked about the unique satisfaction of making something beautiful or useful in another blog, but here I’m most in awe of the way in which creators and patrons and happy supporters form a symbiotic community. JRR Tolkien talks about people as sub-creators, making on the microcosmic scale, as God created the world on the larger scale.  But for me the microcosm is enough.

Because in the effort of each of us to make a little something to make the world better, easier, more beautiful, all those little gestures of good faith and industry and inspiration–they add up and overwhelm the world.

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