September 15, 2010

Made by Hand and the Fear of DIY

I have been reading  Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder, who is the editor of Make and a co-founder of Boing Boing, and I have really been enjoying it.  I am only on the third chapter, but it has been quite inspiring already.  The second chapter was about fear and making things, and it reminded me a little of Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking which is a book that has helped me in my art career.  But Made by Hand is centered less on the realm of traditional art and more on DIY and hacking and making.  In my mind I know they are all a part of the same thing, but I realized when I was reading about Frauenfelder killing his lawn to start a garden that I relate differently to many DIY projects when they get to a certain scale.  For example, I am rather terrified of putting up this fence that I have been planning for many months, as well as many other large home improvement projects that I would like to do.  I get easily overwhelmed and anxious about projects like this.
Maybe the fear is about scale, or labor, or use of new big tools.  With my artwork, the scale is very small, and the smaller...the better.  While my work is labor intensive, it is not physically involves fine skills and repetition.  And I am familiar with small scale tools and am comfortable in picking up and trying new small tools, too.  I am relatively comfortable in trying out other forms of artwork in this small personal scale and I feel nervously excited to try new things. But with crafts like yardwork and home improvement, all these things are bigger and unfamiliar and a bit scary. They seem more "important" because it is about my living space and not just a small trinket or decorative ornament. 
Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World
So I am trying to readjust my thoughts and fears on these things.  I am inspired to channel my inner craftsman and try to relate to these large projects like I do to the smaller projects that make me feel more comfortable.  I shouldn't let fear of the unknown and inexperience hinder me from making something.  I should attack it with a willingness to learn and experiment and fail, like I do with clay and metal and other stuff!  I am going to try to do this as I head into next week, when the show is done and I can focus on the house for a couple of weeks.
Also, if you have seen the "before" pictures of the old kludge fence... how could I possibly make it worse?

Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.


  1. i love that wire fencing..of course it's not great as a fence..but sooo cool for other projects.

  2. Nope you can't make that fence worse! Go with your heart and all will work out! Sorry I haven't visited in a while but those pieces are awesome!


  3. way the fence can be worse!! I've tried to just bite the bullet and go for it with home improvement projects...some with a little crooked results but they all still look better than they were :)

  4. Go for it!

    I'm trying conquer my fear of fabric. Sounds silly, I know. I love to buy it & image what I'll do with it but I am soooo lousy at sewing. I tend to put it off so as not to destroy the lovely cloth I want to alter.

  5. I used to be afraid of DIY house projects too. Then I found this book, Reader's Digest Complete Do It Yourself Handbook. It tells you how to do EVERYTHING! I mean, even things you'd never think of in a million years!
    Here's the link:

    If you have a Lowe's or Home Depot, I can practically guarantee they'll have it in stock.

    Everyone in my family has a copy! If you own a home, this is the book to have. God bless Reader's Digest! I'm fortunate that I have a very handy husband, but he uses this book too. Just follow the instructions and you'll do great. (Save that funky wire fencing though. It's very artsy-craftsy looking. I know you'll find a use for it! :-> )

    Good luck and please blog about your progress!

  6. I you need us, ask us, Jim's family has been in the building business for over fifty years,and he knows everything. Saftey IS important and larger projects do require some knowledge of what is in store when you alter something. Not meant to frighten you, just meant to remind you that big IS different from little, project wise.
    However, just as you are comfortable around a kiln, a person with a backhoe or a large power tool wouldn't be! Trade/share your skills with someone who works outside, and learn on the job maybe! Builders are often really creative people!
    xox jean