Unorthodox Crafts
The smell of freshly baked cookies greeted me as I entered the crowded Prime Toyota waiting room yesterday.  It's a large waiting area with a pool table, cafe (free cookies and coffee!!), television, children's playroom, and computer work-stations - a pretty pleasant place to hang out while your car is being serviced.  I found an empty seat at one of the tall tables, pulled out my box of tiny holographic paper squares, and began to fold origami earrings.  My sole table-mate smiled at me.  "Either you are doing something really interesting," he said, "or they have let you out of the loony bin for the day."  I showed him my craft and for the next few hours we chatted as I folded and assembled earrings.  After he left, the woman at a neighboring table came over to see what I was doing.  Another woman overheard the conversation and wandered over; she even invited her husband to watch me fold.  Several Prime Toyota employees expressed interest.  One man asked if I was playing some kind of game.  By the time my car was ready, I had made 6 pairs of earrings; and I was out of business cards.

My goal at Prime Toyota was to get my car serviced.  It was a chore that had to be done.  I did not view it as an opportunity to meet people and network, or to market my business.  I took along my craft to help pass the time, keep my hands busy, and to be productive.  I love knitting in public and have always enjoyed the conversations that take place when I do.  Perhaps I look safe and approachable as I knit or fold.   Or maybe people are interested in the fact that things are still made by hand.  Whatever the reason, making earrings in the car dealership turned a necessary chore into a pleasant experience and marketing opportunity.  I am tempted to pretend to get my car serviced on a weekly basis so that I can sit and craft in the Prime Toyota waiting room and network.  Do you think they would notice?

I have been making origami Christmas ornaments using recycled gift bags to sell at upcoming holiday craft fairs.  I start by cutting the bags into 2-3-inch squares.  As I was getting ready to throw away the scraps, I realized that I might be able to make earrings with them.  Earrings, after-all, start with squares ranging from 3/4  - 1 3/4 inches.  So I rescued the scraps from the recycle bin, cut smaller squares and experimented.  The result was glittery, holographic, colorful holiday earrings (will post pictures to website soon).  Certainly not earrings you might wear every day, but fun for a special occasion.

I have had a similar experience making purses.  I saved scraps of ties, with no clear plan of how to use them.  Then I saw an example of a crazy quilt and experimented with a new purse design.  The result was the first pouch-style purse.  There are several of these patchwork purses available on the website - and I have a whole drawer of scraps waiting to be used.

This process reminds me of an artist whom I met several years ago.  Willard Wigan  creates microscopic art using specks of materials - dust, fibers, grains of sand.  Although I have no intention of going to this extreme, I appreciate his use of scraps.  And I reassure myself that saving scraps is not always a sign of hoarding.  So far, my scraps have only taken over one drawer.  Or maybe two...
  As I was taking apart and ironing ties to make a purse yesterday, I thought about where the ties had come from, who might have worn them, what path they (the ties) had traveled to end up in my hands.  These two particular ties were, I believe, from Goodwill.  I have gotten pickier about the ties that I buy.  I avoid ties which smell of cigarettes (almost impossible to wash out completely) and those with obvious stains which would be difficult to work around. 

So I was surprised to encounter a stain on one of these ties.  It was subtle and in an unusual location – far up from the flap and almost camouflaged by the tie’s intricate pattern.  Fortunately, the stain washed out fairly easily and I was able to use the tie.  But I wondered about the source of the stain.  Thanksgiving dinner?  Office party?  I realize as I handle ties that they each have stories and memories - and sometimes stains. 

My favorite batch of ties came from a gentleman who was cleaning out his father’s house after his father had passed away.  The ties were gorgeous and unusual, colors and designs from a different era.  As I made purses from these ties, I sent pictures to the man who sold me the ties.  I ended up making purses for his nieces for mother’s day – gifts made with their grandfather’s memories.

So as I deal with stains and imperfections, I know that I am also dealing with memories and events.  And isn’t it nice to create something useful with that history?  Something that will, itself, create memories.