In other parts of the creative world, I don't excel as much - sewing, knitting, crocheting and pottery have all passed me by. So, you might be surprised but I am a novice wood-turner. I did wood-turning for a few terms and it was one of my favourite hobbies. The only reason that I stopped the class was that I had decided to do my TEFL and to move abroad. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made and the first time that I realised that following your dreams can mean sacrificing things that you love. Whilst the course itself was not expensive it was an entire evening every week dedicated to wood-turning would have cut into my study.
Coming to Korea initially, I let my interest in crafty stuff disappear in the excitement of wandering, travelling, eating and experiencing. However, once winter set in, I found myself craving some crafty time. I am pretty nifty with a scissors and some glue, and on top of being able to draw (and I like to draw), I found myself trying to find ways to while away those long winter hours. So, I started drawing hands, again. When I took art many moons ago for my Leaving Certificate, my teacher informed us that for our first couple of classes, and for homework, we were just going to draw hands until we could do it perfectly. This exercise is a favourite of mine whenever I come back to drawing after having been away for a while. If I can't draw a hand, I can't draw that elaborate picture I had in my head either! Once I had my hands perfected to my satisfaction (they may not have quite pleased my Art Teacher!), I started to think of ways I could expand my horizons.
Although Korea has a lot of Christmassy ornaments in Daiso and Homeplus (and other shops too), none of them really reminded me of home. My favourite decorations that we have are our little wooden ones that I believe my mam got in Germany many years ago when she was au-pairing there. Over the years, I've started my own collection of ornaments from beautiful glass angels to little wooden decorations. I even seem to be following in my mother's footsteps with a slowly growing collection of nativity scenes. Thanks to my travels these ornaments are beautiful reminders of trips with family and friends as they hail from America, Italy, Ireland and Scotland. My love of Christmas decorations is so well known by my family and friends, that one year, in a work Kris Kindle, I was absolutely delighted to receive a gorgeous carousel and some glass angels. I was so excited that despite our Kris Kindles supposed to being anonymous, my friend (once more a million thanks, Presc) had to tell me that it was her as I kept telling everyone I met that day thank you! Sadly, I don't have any of these things here with me in Korea. Firstly, I've too many to take on one trip. Secondly, some are too breakable for such a long journey. Thirdly, I don't want to lose them here in Korea.
So back to Christmas in Korea....Daiso and Homeplus didn't have what I was looking for (reminder to self: Maggie you are in KOREA not GERMANY), so after a few minutes of anguish, I decided to make a game plan. I picked out a few things that I liked - some lights, baubles, snowflakes, beads and I got some very thin tinsel (my tree is tiny and I don't like big tinsel in any case). . I am not great at origami so a friend of mine helped me to make some penguins whilst I cut out tons of snowflakes. I like making snowflakes so much that I did this with a lot of my classes last year and I would make about 5 to each of my students one snowflake!. I spent hours folding candy canes, drawing ornaments and researching different advent calendars and paper decorations. I spent so much time on it that my house for about 3 weeks looked like a stationery shop had exploded with all the paper, glue, stickers, bits and bobs. For the rest, I decided to make my own. A stack of origami paper later I was sitting in my house making old fashioned paper ring chains, Chinese lanterns and these beautiful stars.
That was last year and I saved most of my decorations both bought and homemade (St Joseph disappeared on Christmas day and has not been seen since). This year, I cleared my desk and made it my "Christmas corner". Boxes that held my Christmas presents last year now hold all my decorations, last year's advent calendar is up and pinned with an item a day (and in some cases several items a day). The crafty gifts I got for last year's Christmas are up there waiting their turn to be sewn, glued and/or painted.
Crafting is so much fun, but it is time consuming and, in my case, very messy for my small space! I struggle with trying to balance the hours of fun that I can have doing it with the state my apartment gets in while I am doing it (and stays in for days after). I struggle with knowing that the minute I start I may not be able to finish before bedtime, so that means I know I'll be up until 1.00a.m. With this in mind, I've tried to create a balance this year: for Easter, I only made these origami Easter bunnies and for Hallowe'en I only spent a few evenings working on my projects. The things I made were easy - bats, ghosts and pumpkins. The more elaborate designs (witch, wizard and crazy killer girl) were still made in a couple of hours. With Christmas approaching and the fact that is is my favourite holiday, I knew I'd be way more easily distracted by crafting. Luckily my friend and I had discussed setting up a Wine and Crafts club a few months before and with this thought in mind the first meeting of this club began on December 5th. This meant, that not only could I spend some time crafting...I also got to do it in a controlled environment! There were 10 girls at this first event and that meant I just couldn't spread out the way I am wont! Well, I could...but then I'd have spilt the wine! Despite this curtailment on my space, I still ended up making this gingerbread house with some help from one of the other girls:
So you might think
I'm mad to have chosen doing TEFL over my beloved Wood-turning. You might think I'm mad to mix wine with crafting and you might think I'm mad to not just buy all the decorations I found in Daiso and Homeplus (some of them are quite nice, btw). Well, the most important concern there is around wine - the worst that can happen is that it spills on a craft. And yes, I could have just bought all the decorations but now I have memories for keeps and plenty of ideas on what to do with my students in afterschool classes and, hopefully, with my own children some day. But yes, I think part of me was mad to give up wood-turning in favour of TEFL. It was one of the hardest decisions I made when I started my journey to move to Korea. However, I can always take it up again and in the meantime, I can see the pieces I made anytime I go home!
PPS This post was inspired by my favourite holiday, Christmas, and my love of crafting.
PPS This post was inspired by the "Let's get together" song from The Parent Trap starring Haley Mills and a great night at Wine and Craft Club. Here's to the next one!
PPPS: No wine was spilt or crafts destroyed in the making of this post.