Looking to give your creative side a bit of a workout? Can't remember the last time you picked up a paintbrush or a needle and thread? Maybe it's time to choose a craft and see what you can do with your hands, a few materials and a bit of creativity. You may find a new hobby or a way to relax and spend time with friends and family -- without investing a lot of money. You may even discover some hidden talents and turn your crafting into a business enterprise. As you try different craft projects, you're also sure to end up with some decorative items you can use to brighten up your home or workspace.
But where to begin? There are countless types of crafts to try, from needlework to painting, but for those unaccustomed to crafting, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. Let's take a look at 10 popular types of craft projects and get an idea of what you'll need to try each one. Read on to discover how a simple craft project can become a family heirloom, and why old, familiar craft projects are gaining steam with younger generations.
When you make a quilt, you're doing more than creating a fun craft. You're also creating an object that brings warmth and comfort and that may even serve as a family heirloom for future generations. Quilts are made from small scraps or squares of fabric, which are often left over from worn-out clothing, blankets or other items. Using these scraps, quilters can create a work of art at little or no cost.
Quilts can be used for practical purposes, such as keeping you warm on a cold night, but they're also quite sentimental objects. They're a way to preserve and display special fabrics, such as baby blankets or wedding gowns, and can be passed on and added to by each generation to extend the family history. Family members may also join in to create a special quilt to commemorate an occasion, such as a new baby or a marriage.
To get started with quilting, you need only a needle, thread and a bit of fabric. As your skills improve, you can add filler to fluff up your quilt or expand beyond the basic square pattern to create unique designs and shapes.
Those looking to go green with their crafting activities may want to consider giving papier-mâché a try. Made from strips of newspaper dipped in glue, papier-mâché is a very inexpensive craft project, and it's also a fun way to reuse your newspapers and magazines.
Using an inflated balloon as a base, papier-mâché crafters add layer after layer of glue and paper to form objects like masks, sculptures and even party piñatas. Once the glue dries, the papier-mâché forms a hard shell that can be painted or left unfinished. You can also stick with brightly colored magazine pages instead of newspaper to add color without painting.
This is a great craft for all ages, and it's especially fun for kids who need to let loose and get a little messy. Parents will love papier-mâché for its low cost and eco-friendly vibe.
8: Holiday Crafts
No matter what your level of crafting ability, you've probably worked on some type of holiday craft at some point in your life. With options ranging from tree toppers to Valentine's hearts, there's a holiday craft for all ages and abilities. This type of project is a staple in school art classes, and it's also popular with homemakers and families looking for an affordable and unique way to decorate.
These crafts may be as simple as a Thanksgiving turkey made from a tracing of your hand to an elaborate centerpiece for your holiday table. Christmas ornaments are another popular option, and these can be saved and reused year after year. The best part about holiday crafting is that it doesn't have to be expensive. Depending on your project, you can use almost any kind of material, including paper, glitter and fabric, or even natural items like pinecones, acorns, leaves and rocks.
7: Jewelry Making
Jewelry is the ultimate type of wearable art, and jewelry making allows crafters to display their creativity and skills for all to see. Jewelry projects can range from the simple woven bracelet made at summer camp to the elaborate beading done by the serious crafter.
Those interested in jewelry making can start with simple store-bought bead kits available at most craft stores. For even more variety, consider making your own personalized beads out of clay or painted ceramic. You can even learn to cut and sculpt metal to create your own charms and designs.
Of course, the process of making jewelry is only half the fun. Much of the excitement comes from wearing your creations out in public and having a chance to express yourself through art. If you get really good, you can even consider selling your creations at craft fairs or stores.
For many crafters, there's a certain romance associated with the image of the painter at his easel. He can set up shop almost anywhere and capture the beauty of a scene that we may or may not appreciate ourselves. Even if you're not quite at this level yet, you'll find that painting is a craft almost anyone can enjoy, from the finger-painting toddler to the artist with his palette.
Painters can choose from a wide variety of mediums, from watercolors to oil paints applied to paper, canvas, wood or metal. These materials can be used to paint an infinite variety of subjects, including landscapes, portraits or scenes from the artist's imagination. Some crafters may paint to create the next great work of art, while others simply enjoy the process. Whatever your goal or skill level, you'll find painting among the most versatile types of craft projects.
Are you a person who likes to get your hands dirty? If so, sculpting may be the craft for you. Sculptors use wet clay to form works of art or practical items like bowls or pots. Beginners form and shape the clay by hand, while professionals may use a tool called a pottery wheel, which spins the clay as you use your hands to shape the object. Depending on the type of projects you plan to work on, sculpting can be done at home or in a pottery studio. Costs can vary depending on the clay you work with and the complexity of your work.
One of the best things about sculpting is that it's accessible to all age groups. Children use brightly colored clay to form animals and small toys, while older crafters may sculpt dishes or mugs. Once the object has been shaped, it may be fired in a kiln so that the clay will harden, then painted or glazed to add color.
Even if your creative skills are limited, you'll likely enjoy the feeling of wet clay between your fingers as you give sculpting a try.
Tired of browsing in clothing stores and finding nothing that fits? Or even worse, are you sick of wearing what everyone else is wearing because it's all that's available at the local mall? Maybe it's time to take up sewing and learn to make your own clothes. Not only can you create fashion that fits your personality, but you can also save big bucks over store-bought clothing. Hand- or machine-sewn garments that you make yourself are also the secret to great-fitting clothes, especially for those whose bodies simply don't fit into standard sizes.
If you're new to sewing, start small. Try taking a class at your local fabric store to learn basic sewing and embroidery techniques. Once you've gotten the hang of things, find a simple pattern and some cheap fabric to test your skills. After you've mastered making clothes you can wear, you may find your designs are good enough to sell. Try crafting Web sites like Etsy.com to set up a simple shop or to browse designs of other sewing fans.
The idea of sewing your own clothes may seem overwhelming at first, but don't worry. Start small, and remember that the crafting process is half the fun!
3: Drawing and Sketching
Looking for a craft project that can be done anywhere without a lot of expensive tools or equipment? Consider using pencils, charcoal or even crayons to draw the things you see around you, wherever you happen to be. You don't need to be a Picasso to enjoy this simple craft. All you need is a willingness to give it a try and some simple supplies, such as a sketchbook or drawing paper.
Drawing and sketching are the perfect crafts for every age group. Kids can improve motor skills and color recognition while more advanced artists can work on perspective, lighting, texture and dimension. One of the best things about drawing, besides its low cost and versatility, is that there's always something new to learn. You'll continue to master your craft over the years, and your interest in subject matter may change with age. To get started with drawing, pick a subject you like, and give it a try. If you find you're having trouble, consider taking a basic drawing class at a local community college or art center.
Knitting isn't just for grandmothers anymore. This popular needlecraft is now popular with people of all ages, from teens to moms. Many bars and clubs have their own knitting night, where customers can come together and knit with friends in a fun, social environment.
The popularity of knitting spread as people began to discover just how fun, yet challenging, this craft is. Basic knitting stitches are fairly easy to learn, but mastering the art of knitting is something you can work on over a lifetime. Simple projects like socks and scarves may be possible for most knitters, but knitting your own Christmas sweater may take a few attempts.
As more people turn to knitting for both fun and practical purposes, many are also discovering the joy of crocheting. Crafters use a crochet hook to knit fabric together to form items like doilies and tablecloths. Like knitting, it's easy to learn the basic steps, but it can take a while to master. Check out sites like Knitty.com for patterns, inspiration and tips on getting started.
With annual material sales of more than $2.5 billion in the United States alone, scrapbooking is arguably the most popular project for today's craft fans [source: London Times]. Its staggering popularity is evidenced by the wide availability of scrapbooking supplies and materials in both craft stores and big-box retailers.
Scrapbookers fill homemade books with photos, text and small mementos to celebrate a special event or occasion. Once the fun of creating the scrapbook is complete, crafters can keep the book on hand to preserve treasured family memories. These projects are often used to commemorate a vacation, wedding, graduation or other event, but scrapbooks may also be created for no reason other than the fun of the craft itself.
Crafters can work on scrapbooks at craft stores or at home with family and friends. A virtually unlimited variety of supplies are available to help, including paper packs, die cuts, stickers, stamps and punchouts. Invite your friends over to compare memories and select the very best mementos to include in your project.
Lots More Information
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Holiday and Seasonal Crafts
- Knitting Instructions
- Jewelry Crafts
- Art Techniques for Kids
- Sculpture Crafts for Kids
- How to Draw
More Great Links
- Arts and Crafts for Kids by Age Group
- HGTV: Crafting
- Martha Stewart: Crafting
- Bouchon, Jolene M. "Craft Trends of 2008." My Lifetime. Date Unknown. (Jan. 28, 2010.)http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/home-crafts/craft-ideas/craft-trends-2008
- London Times Online. "Le Scrapbooking Takes France by Storm." Times Online. Mar. 31, 2008. (Jan. 28, 2010). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648953.ece