2 Ways to Make Art with Others

Creative projects are even more meaningful when they’re crafted in a way that builds relationships and community.

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Crafts for Christmas

There’s a maxim among writers that we should “write the things we want to read.” For artists, musicians, creative spirits of all stripes, the idea could be expanded to, this simple, positive directive: “Create the things you wish existed.”

The holiday season is a crafty time of year. Magazines and websites beckon us with DIY treasures to use as decorations or gifts. It’s a wonderful notion—making art is a time-tested stress reliever, and these ideas are terrific opportunities to take a break from the busy.

But what’s even better than making a special holiday craft? Making art in collaboration with others. Whether the “others” are your family, neighbors, prayer group or coworkers, making something together is a way to create the community you wish existed—or strengthen and celebrate the one you already have.

Here are two models for collaborative creating:

1.  Make Pieces of a Whole
I am participating this month in a collaborative crochet project with a local friend’s group—we are making a “Welcome Blanket” to present to a refugee or immigrant family that is new to our community. The pattern is simple for even beginners, and though we have discussed “fall colors,” each of us is making a square with yarn we have on hand or think would look good. We aren’t making our squares in the same room at the same time, but when our individual pieces are stitched together, they will form a warm, comforting blanket to wrap new neighbors in communal, welcoming love.

If you’re not a knitter or crochet-er, you could organize a similar collaboration by trying one of these ideas—fun to do together as a group, or to make at home and then collect and deliver:

--Hand-decorated stationary or bookmarks to donate to a local nursing home.

--“Low-sew” fleece hats like this one to donate to a local homeless shelter.

--Catnip sachets like this one or dog tug toys like this one to donate to a local animal shelter.

2.  BYOC (Bring Your Own Craft)
I was recently invited to a crafting evening where the craft was…whatever you happen to be working on! I brought a hat I’m knitting, but others had needlework and sewing projects. The chitchat flowed all the more smoothly as our hands worked away at our projects. This is a converse experience to the Welcome Blanket—here, we were all in the same room, but we each left with our own individual creations. The pleasure of this kind of collaborative crafting is that it doesn’t require any material purchasing or other organizing by the host—just some nibbles and beverages and a group of creative folks!

How do you create community by making art?

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