While having too much fun (crafters need no further explanation) at the Michaels crafts store in Rehoboth Beach, I muttered to my friend and Michaels employee, Phoenix, that wanting/needing/buying all that stuff was a sickness. Phoenix, a shaman of partial American Indian descent, quickly corrected me. "No, Donna Beth. It's a wellness." And he's right.
In today's parlance, I'm a crafter, a term I dislike, as it's way too generic and soul-less for an essentially creative enterprise. Little makes me happier than the luxury of time and a table full of project. Knitting, sewing, scrapbooking (from childhood I've known this as collage), beading, and lots of things in between - all are fun, relaxing and rewarding - when not maddening.
Sometimes the motivation to create is clear - we need something custom-made because what's available store-bought just won't exactly suffice. But what of the other 90%, a figure, by the way, I just made up. Why do we do this? Why do we spend so much time and money on this stuff?
In trolling for a satisfactory explanation, I got sidetracked by the contents of the cottage-painted Victorian dresser in my otherwise Arts + Crafts-furnished sewing room, stuffed with part of my collection of 1910s and 1920s millinery, sewing, and knitting books. An often-quoted reason for the current crafting craze is that it's an antidote to the cold anonymity of technology and that it's a soothing, nesting response to 9-11. But we've been crazed before. The Arts + Crafts movement of 1880-1910 was a reaction to the Industrial Movement and the 1910s and 1920s are often thought to constitute the last previous era with a technological explosion rivaling our digital one. My paper treasure trove contains projects that even Martha (do you really have to ask Martha-who?) and I would laugh ourselves silly over.
So the best explanation, or at least the one I'm going with, is that history shows we sometimes just can't help ourselves. Accordingly, my next excursion to Michaels will be blissful and guilt-free.