Throughout my scientific career, I always relaxed at the end of the day by doing something creative. It probably stems from the fact that many scientific experiments would sometimes take years to design, perform, analyze and publish, along with the stress of the career. But with such slow progression, I needed to feel some sense of accomplishment each day. Whether it be sewing, knitting, jewelry making, quilting, or any other project that I had going on, I enjoyed doing something with my hands so that at the end of the day I could see progress.
Creative outlets came and went. I made tons of beaded jewelry with two friends from grad school. Most weekends they would converge on my house and we would stay up late (or all night) making earrings and stringing beads. It was very fun and very therapeutic as a means to let go of the stress of grad school. We would sell our wares at local craft shows and flea markets. We certainly didn’t become rich, but we made enough to pay for our supplies. At some point, we transitioned into other means of creativity including crocheting and card making.
For a while, I was into making my own clothes – mostly dresses and skirts, but I still wear a wool winter coat that I made years ago. I lined it with left-over silky embroidered fabric that was extra after making drapes for my dining room.
I started collecting antique lace trims, buttons and thread. I loved making art projects and crafts from the things that I found and collected.
My button art is on the short list of things that I will save if the house ever burns down. For now, I just need to find a place to hang it.
Several of my most precious pieces of furniture were mistreated antiques that I salvaged from yard sales and junk shops then labored over to refinish. I refinished and repurposed a Victorian mirrored mantelpiece into a headboard (check back in the future to see this being used in one of the guest rooms). I cleaned up what turned out to be a 1920s floor lamp with a clock built into the post. The $8.00 investment in the rusted hunk of junk was well worth it.
But the hobby that gives the most pleasure, by far, is quilting. I started doing this about 15 years ago while in college. I decided to make a baby quilt for the older sister of one of my best friends. She was expecting triplets (!!) and several of our friends wanted to give gifts for the babies. My first quilt would certainly have not won any prizes, but it did infect me with the quilting bug. Most of the quilts that I have made have been given away as wedding presents or have been sold. My mom and two of my aunts each have one of my quilts. But a few are still in my possession. One of my favorites adorns the bed in the Garden Room of the B&B.
Four others are around the house hanging on the banister or on quilt racks.
I don’t have a huge amount of time to sew and quilt like I used to. But I also don’t have the same amount of stress in my new life, so I don’t need the creative therapy as much as I used to. But thankfully, I live in an area where fabric shops are everywhere. I can’t wait to start a new quilt, even if it will take a long long long time to finish.