We’re not crafty people…

What stories do we tell ourselves about our creativity and our ability? Read "We're Not Crafty People" by The Blue Bottle Tree.

Last night my 14-year-old daughter had a friend spend the night and the evening’s plans included watching a movie and doing a DIY project from Pinterest. After much discussion they finally picked a project and used my ancient stash of fabric paints to paint and decorate an old pair of tennis shoes.

I found the girls in my studio looking for paint brushes. My daughter’s friend was very interested in my studio! She was intrigued. Wowed. Dazzled, in fact. But when I started to show her around, she immediately looked embarrassed and commented, “I’m not from a crafty family. We don’t know how to do things like this.”

The girls gathered the materials and the shoes then cleared the kitchen table and began to paint. Each time I walked by, I watched their progress and genuinely enjoyed watching the design develop, and told them so, with the aim of encouraging them in their adventure.

But each time, the friend said apologetically, “I’m not crafty.” Or she’d state, “I’m not artistic at all.”

Yet the evidence was right in front of me! The shoes looked great. But the story that she believes is:  “We’re not crafty people.”

This made me think. What stories do we tell ourselves that might not be true? What messages were we given as children which have no basis in reality in our lives as adults? How many times have you heard, “I’m terrible at math.” Or “I can’t draw a straight line.” What messages about ourselves do we carry about athletic ability, creativity, music, cooking, computers, math, and art? About beauty? About our core value?

And what stories do we tell our children? We all define our children and shape them in thousands of tiny ways…it’s called parenting. But are all the messages we’re giving them true? Do our messages and stories leave room for a child to be dazzled by things that don’t dazzle us?

What stories do you know about yourself? Are they true? I mean really true? Are most of your stories positive or negative? Do you feel wrong allowing yourself to have positive stories? How have your stories changed over the years? And what stories will change in the future?

An interesting line of thought, isn’t it? How much more could we be if we only told ourselves the right stories.

21 thoughts on “We’re not crafty people…”

  1. Well, although I certainly think that there are some things that we tell ourselves that are true and it is actually a good idea to just accept and be able to know yourself (such “as I suck at Math”) that does not mean you have to decide you just can’t do them at all. I really do suck at Math but I got really excellent grades up to my high school years where I was finally able to dump it. I just decided that even if I sucked at it I was determined to get the best grades ever because I needed them for my university exams so it was just a question of putting about four times more study time that I put at other subjects where I excelled such as English or Literature. Even when we are not good at something we can actually manage to do things if we put our mind and effort in it.

    However I don’t see “Art” in that way. How can you “suck” at Art when it is such a subjective thing and when there are so many possible outlets for it? I can’t for the life of me draw a cat that is not automatically confused with anything ranging from a cow to a dog. However I have been these past years told several times that I do some really nice scrapbooking and mixed media compositions. Since I always draw so badly as a child I thought I was no good for “art” however I had just not found “my art” until I reached adulthood. So there is no such thing as a non crafty person, there is just a person who has not yet found what craft there are really good at. 🙂

    1. You’re so right! And drawing is only one small part of art and yet our early art experience is heavily skewed in that direction. No wonder we come out of school assuming we have no native abilities. Some of art is skill, of course, but much of it is a matter of letting go of fear and letting our inner voice do the work. We all have something creative to say. Thanks for weighing in.

  2. My goodness, I’m absolutely blown away by your responses. Thank you all for such thought provoking and interesting comments. It’s obvious that this subject is one that’s hitting fairly close to the heart for most of us. I think I need to explore it some more. It’s funny how we all have this inner critic, that disables us and prevents us from being productive and getting any joy from our adventures (artistic or otherwise). If we could only take our six year old selves and give ourselves some confidence. I wonder if this is part of our culture and if this varies from one country to the next? Or is it a human condition? This stuff fascinates me. And it fascinates me that people from all over the world know exactly what I’m talking about in this post because I think we all live it in one way or another. Maybe not about craft. But about many other things as well. Interesting.

  3. Everyone has some creativity inside them. The trick is to find it and exercise it; like muscles it increases with use. Oh and I can’t draw a straight line but that’s why my work is less graphic and more organic. We have to work with our strengths!

  4. Great post ! I do my best to encourage children whether strangers or not to explore the things they love most and to pursue anything that is their passion. Nothing is impossible and everything is worth trying ! I tell them that the world is a magical place with so many treasures and sights to experience and the only way to enjoy Life is doing the things you love most and being around those you love most.

  5. Getting ready for my jewelry open house…trying to loose the negative thoughts……has always turned out super..but as I age I need to Worry!!!

  6. This is good food for thought. I am a fairly confident person. I know I am intelligent and creative and talented in many ways. I have been a good mom to my sons; they have grown to be amazing men, and yet, when confronted by negative feedback, I find myself going back 40 years to my adolescence and questioning these current stories. I think all our stories stay with us and shape us into who we become. I also think the stories do change as our confidence in new experiences and abilities develops. We should all strive to be positive story tellers to the young in our lives and give them the confidence to enjoy their own stories.

  7. Well Ginger I do not have any children to shape and I doubt VERY MUCH my kitties would be interested. LOL Just wanted to say you are such a Beautiful Person Inside and Out.

    On short break from grout-a-thon. Back to rubbing and buffing.


  8. Excellent and insightful. How wonderful that your children have a mom who asks, “Do our message and stories leave room for a child to be dazzled by things that don’t dazzle us?” How special that your daughter’s friend is getting a bit of a chance to find out that she IS crafty and creative because of your good influence. I think that the tennies look great. I was fortunate that my family never doubted that I was artistic, but perhaps not so fortunate that they thought I was dumb because I had learning disabilities when they most valued book learning.

  9. It’s funny the way we think of ourselves sometimes when I’m jokeing around with my husband and he says your funny I will joke back and say funny looking and he hates it when I do that.I’m not trying to put myself down,I think I’m cute I’m just trying to be funny. We need to stand up ourselves and think positive.

  10. We’ve been talking a lot about our “family story” this week because my father passed away on Sunday. My sister, brother, and I have been sharing memories of the childhood that shaped us. Some of our best memories revolve around crafting. We were taught that we were “crafty.” Now, “artistic,” that isn’t a word that you would hear in our house. There was a sense that art was for wealthy people or hippies 🙂

  11. I had a discussion similar to this with my best friend a while ago. Society/media/whomever you choose to pay attention to has almost “conditioned” us to only see the negative in ourselves. Unfortunately, we sometimes pass that onto our children–certainly without intending to! So often we find it difficult to simply say “Thank you” when someone compliments us. Or, we DO say thank you & then quickly point out a fault or flaw. Example: I receive a compliment: “Your hair is beautiful!” My response: “Thank you but I really do need my roots dyed.” I personally struggle with this type of thing. Now that I’ve been made aware, I am working to change this! Let me tell you, it’s HARD to simply say thank you & not respond with a negative lol!

  12. This is a MOST Excellent post. I repinned it on Pinterest, urging people to read it. I very much appreciate receiving it. Thank you!

  13. One of the hardest things we do as parents is to let them fly free and discover on their own, especially since that means allowing them to make mistakes. My four are adults and still learning the hard way, but unafraid of “wrong” choices. I think it is ever so much more difficult for parents starting out… society rewards “perfection”, doesn’t it?

  14. Ginger you are so insightful. I try to think about what you stated concerning my own life. We sabotage ourselves sometimes when we don’t mean to, and sometimes it takes someone like you to encourage a different path in thinking. Thank you for allowing your daughters’ girlfriend to prove to herself ” yes I can do this”. 🙂

  15. Wow, the shoes are gorgeous, makes me think I’d like to do mine but I don’t have any fabric paint. Your story does leave one with something to think about.

    1. Dolores if I may suggest, use regular acrylic paints. You can water them down if you want or just use them as is for accent and boldness. Lots of people use acrylics to paint fabrics and leather etc. Good Luck 🙂

      1. Thanks for this one Leslie. I was thinking the same as Dolores. I use them for everything else why not fabric.

  16. Way true. Little things, like my Mom didn’t like lime flavor so we never ate lime things growing up. As an adult I found out I really like lime! And I am not clumsy. And I can be organized…and more!

  17. polarbearpolitics

    I’ve said this myself – which is why I try to encourage my nieces and nephew whenever they are talking about how good or bad they are at something, and tell them as long as they are having fun, that is all that matters.

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