What’s Your Crafting Style?

Last night I was trying to find a new home for my overflowing Cthulhus and thinking about something another crafter said to me—that she gets bored after making the same thing a number of times and has to move on. It got me thinking about the different types of crafting styles and what mine is. I think I’m:

The Implementer

In coding and crafting, I don’t have a great eye for design. When I do come up with my own patterns, it’s generally very geometrical (either for web design or quilts). I’ll sit down with a pattern and make it 20 times over if there’s something I like about it. I may derive variations or tweak it for improvement, but all in all it’ll be in one tight field—like the Cthulhus.

The downside is that you rarely come up with your own patterns. Sometimes this makes you feel derivative or invalid. Sometimes other people express surprise that you’re still doing that. But implementation makes you happy, so you’re rarely down about it for long.

The upside is that when you’re a quilter or doing other projects that require large-scale repetition, this crafting style keeps you from burning out before you finish a project (I make all my quilts by hand, so it takes a while). And while you may not be designing new WordPress (which you stuck with because you were getting to know it really well) themes any time soon, you’ve learned most of the techniques for changing elements that others have already put in place.

Implementers build a skill-set and while they may not be coming up with their own stuff any time soon, they’re good at what they do. Some of them hand-code every piece of XHTML in their blog posts. Other kinds of crafters(& coders) I’ve met are:

The Sampler

The sampler is a crafter-of-all-trades. They’ve got supplies for half-a-dozen different types of crafting and are always coming up with new projects to do. They rarely stick with something long and thrive on novelty.

The downsides of sampling are: 1) never actually finishing projects and 2) not spending the time to get really good at anything. The first can be avoided if you simply put in the time to follow through on projects before starting new ones. It isn’t inherent, but I think the same tendencies drive it. The second can’t be overcome without practice, but if you can achieve a level of competence then it’s really not necessary as long as you’re happy with the results.

The upside is that you get to experience and enjoy all kinds of new things. Sure, you may not be coming up with patterns yourself, but last week you made a crochet Cthulhu & now you’re working on a Jayne hat. Maybe next month you’ll buy some fabric and make your friend a baby quilt.

As long as samplers get their projects finished, they seem to be pretty happy crafters.

The Designer

The designer isn’t interested in doing the same thing over and over again, but unlike the sampler they’re more likely to come up with their own ideas. Sometimes the ideas stay on the drawing board and other times they get fully implemented, but it’s unlikely that the designer will suddenly turn into the implementer and keep making the same thing over and over again.

Some designers do seem to stick to variations on a theme, like implementers, but even then it’s a theme that they came up with themselves.

Downside—um…I don’t know if I see one for them. When I’m not happily replicating Cthulhus, I wish I was coming up with new ideas (there is maybe a grue in the works but it’s hard since we don’t know what they look like). Creative crafter’s block? Implementation block? Not enough time? Those would all suck, I should know as I’ve got a major case of the former.

The upside is pretty obvious on this one.

What Did I Miss?

That’s all from my perspective on crafting and crafters. As an implementer, I’m probably missing up and downsides of the other two and have blind-spots on my own perspective. What’s your experience been, and how would you identify yourself?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong style, though some are more convenient in some situations than others. Implementers are happy to knock out a set of baby quilts or baby’s first Cthulhus whereas Designers might be wanting to get started on their next idea. But when we’re free to do what we want, all three of us are pretty much happy with our crafting. And as long as you’re having fun and don’t end up on Regretsy then that’s all that matters.

8 Comments

  1. Mackenzie says:

    I’d consider myself the “Designer” — the problem with that type is that you often get yourself in over your head. You have ideas for mediums you hardly understand or have never worked with before, and then you have to trouble-shoot like crazy to make it work. It can be enormous fun or it can drive you crazy, it all depends.

    My other, more personal, difficulty is that I combine being a designer with being a perfectionist, and so if I can’t see the product ending up perfect I have a very difficult time completing it. Sigh. That would be why my house is littered with half-finished projects this week. . . .

  2. Autumn says:

    I’m a combo sampler/designer. My mind comes up with crazy ideas all the time that I seldom know how to accomplish. I get around this by making friends with those that do know how to do certain things and we’ll either trade trades or I pay em or otherwise make it worth their while. But if something is working I can turn into a crazy implementor. I don’t even know how many times I’ve painted starbucks mandala for people.

  3. Amy says:

    I’m a bit of a sampler/implementer. I think. I like lots of different kinds of crafts. I have stuff in my house for jewelry, polymer clay fun, bookmaking, and papermaking. Making jewelry is my go-to craft, and I’m constantly look for new methods and designs. If I really like something, then I implement away until I am able to do it in my sleep. I don’t spend near as much time on the other crafts as I would like to. It kinda goes in phases.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..10 Geeky Things About Me =-.

  4. Ruth says:

    @Mackenzie whenever you brought your projects home or we talked about some of your thoughts, I was very impressed with your aesthetic. And your wedding *drops dead* though I know it was a joint artistic effort.

    @Autumn Even if I get far enough, I’m often stumped on initial implementation, unless it’s something I’ve done before. Thank goodness for tutorials! The Starbuck mandala’s awesome. :)

    @Amy Interesting, I would have tagged you as a designer too, but maybe that’s because of the bracelet you did recently. I was very impressed by how you made it work with the polymer clay.

  5. Revanche says:

    I’m decidedly uncrafty because I’m only an implementer in life, and so I’ve always felt like anything I “crafted” was derivative and devoid of life. But then again, I thought YOU were quite crafty! So I guess my mistake was assuming that I couldn’t be crafty because I wasn’t creative-juice.

  6. Ruth says:

    I think of myself as crafty but not actually inventive. Derivative stuff can be a lot of fun, especially when you start doing your own variations! :)

  7. Kara says:

    I just dug this post up from a month ago, but I’m definitely a “Sampler”! I’ve got the supplies for scrapbooking, loom knitting, regular knitting, jewelry-making, cake decorating, and a sewing machine I can’t remember how to use (haven’t used one since I was 14) and haven’t taken out of the box since I got it for Christmas 2008! I blame my ADD. I’m the same way with video games, though.

  8. mapgirl says:

    Knitters talk about Process vs End Product people. Process people care more about the journey than the end product, so they have lots of unfinished stuff around. Mainly they like learning new techniques, but that doesn’t mean it has to translate into a finished piece or a large wearable piece. (Hats anyone?)

    End product people are prolific knitters that churn out tons of pieces. They are motivated to get to the end.

    I find that in these two groups are a wide variation of your three groups, Implementers, Samplers and Designers. Samplers tend to be exclusively in the Process category though.

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