I know what you are going to say after you read this blog post. How do I manage to do extra things when I have four small children to care for? I actually have more downtime than you think. Sure there are days where there are absolutely no downtime, but there are just as many days where there is plenty of time. Of course, I should be doing my dissertation but it bores me easily. Trust me, if you have been working on the same project for years and it does not change, you will definitely get bored and annoyed by it. So when I am not doing my dissertation, I end up baking and eating my baked goods and adding on to my waistline. Suffice to say, it hasn’t been a very productive January month. Instead of feeling bad about it, I told myself I have 11 more months to go.
For the absolute longest time, I’ve always wanted to learn sewing and printmaking. I know you know what is sewing but in case you don’t know what is printmaking, it is the process of making original images, printing them and transferring them to another surface, usually paper, but could also be fabric, wood and what-not. I also wanted to improve upon my drawing abilities and learnt to paint (not walls). I meant to take professional part-time courses at NAFA and LaSalle. Isn’t it cool that they have courses on practically everything under the sun from constructing menswear to Chinese calligraphy? But right now I don’t have the budget, babysitter and time.
The truth of the matter is I’ve also always been intimidated to do anything creative despite being extremely creatively-inclined. The older I got, the more intimidated I feel. I tend to espouse the usual narrative about choosing the wrong schools and going into the wrong profession, and having wasted my youth not even learning crafts at the side or as a hobby. And how its probably too late now. Then I say some people are very lucky, they know what they want from the get-go and chase for it. But I am the sort who was ambling through life and learning bits and pieces of myself and only realizing what I wanted to do with my life at a later age. I’ve always been a late bloomer. You can ask my parents, they will tell you how I was absolutely late in learning anything.
Lately however, I had the opportunity to interact with very creative individuals. I told them about wanting to learnt to sew and what-not and they say what is stopping me and then I tell them that narrative I just mentioned above and then they say absolute nonsense. There are books, there are e-classes and there are professional part-time classes. I just have to practice everyday and eventually I’ll get good at it. I’ve also been reading quite a bit and there was this piece about how to overcome impostor syndrome. It turns out that the idea of in-born talent and genius is a myth. If you want to be good at anything, you just need to practice at it and with time you will become good.
Other than the dream to want to learn, I actually have the genetic disposition for arts and crafts. My father is actually very good at making things with his hands. At certain junctures of his life, he was an apprentice to a Dutch carpenter in the Netherlands, a cook assistant to a Hong Kong professional chef, and I don’t know what else but he did many things. He can also draw and does a lot of DIY around the house. I learnt a lot watching him, which is why I never call for a repairman. I always try to fix things myself or ask my husband, who is also very proficient at these things. My mother, on the other hand, can sew. You would think I’d be a professional at all these things because of my parents but no. I only experienced some of it by osmosis. They have never seen the point of imparting their knowledge to me.
So not wanting the next 11 months to fly by and see that I’ve grown older and still wishing I would sew, print, draw, and what not, I decided that I will start to work on my crafts. Much like cooking, I feel a certain sense of urgency to learn it now because unlike my parents, I want to be able to teach them to my kids. Some parents choose music, some parents choose sports, for me, I want to teach my girls to cook, sew and draw. I don’t expect them to be geniuses at it, but I want them to have these skills whether its for their own personal pleasure and enjoyment, or as fields they hope to explore in-depth in the future. Everybody should learn to cook and sew and be able to make art, even if it might be not perfect. If not for survival, then as a hobby.
Before I start professional classes next year when I will have the budget for it and the girls are older and more independent, I will embark on something simple, unambitious and achievable: I will simply learn to use a sewing machine and make a skirt. I think I will probably end up doing more than that but in case I don’t, this is the most I have to do as far as this year goes. Its straight-forward and not overwhelming. I am shopping for a good sewing machine right now, and I have a lot of fabric that I have saved up over the years that I have always intended to upcycle into little girl’s skirts. I will talk about my progress in this blog. I guess I am a little tired of explaining what on earth I do with the triplets everyday. Its not very exciting actually to always focus on these little humans doing very normal things. Yes, they can flip, and they are learning to crawl, but it isn’t that amazing to write at length about.
So stay tuned! And in the words of Tim Gunn, I’m going to try to make it work.