Friday Night Crafting, Camp Style
Welcome to the Arts & Crafts cabin! You know the rules — don’t run with scissors, leave the space clean for the next group, and believe in yourself. In this space, we value enthusiasm over that ever-elusive “talent.” Whether you’re putting on some camp jams and crafting solo or making a night of it with your roomies, here are some of my favorite camp-inspired art projects you can try with stuff you probably already have at home.
Upcycle Craft: Cereal Box Postcards
If your quarantine menu has looked anything like mine, you’re probably having a lot of cereal. Put those boxes to good use and make some art! Cut them into postcard size (USPS will accept most dimensions but 4×6 is a good guide) and decorate with hand-drawn art, magazine collages, or photos from camp. If it’s a multi-layered drawing, “laminate” the design with tape to keep it together before affixing a stamp. You can mail these postcards to your camp friends, meet up with local buddies at the park and exchange notes, or even drop them off on your roommates’ beds as Shabbat dinner invites.
Weekly Gratitude Decor
Camp, like quarantine, does weird things to time. Is it Tuesday? Or is it Saturday? Have we been doing this for a month or a whole lifetime?? Here’s a way to keep track of the days, while honoring Shabbat as the mountaintop view of the week. Each day, write down something (or someone!) you’re appreciative of. It could be big and abstract or small and specific. Then, on Friday, take some time to turn your list into art. Paint your gratitude onto rocks, try some decoupage, or do amateur calligraphy on index cards. Decorate your Shabbat table (or a wall of your apartment) with your project, and enjoy dinner surrounded by reminders of the things that bring you joy.
Friendship Crafts: Bracelets, Obviously
Maybe you were an embroidery string aficionado, a bracelet collector, or a design-minded innovator. Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about and don’t know how to make one of these. The good news is, they’re super easy! (Or at least they can be.) All you need is some string, ideally embroidery thread. For beginners, try out a challah braid or candy stripe design. This is a perfect meditative activity to do while listening to music or your Nourishment audiobook, and they’re light enough to slip in the mail and surprise your long-distance besties.
Nature Craft: Flower & Plant Pressing
Flowers are perfect for instant summery vibes. Pick up some blooms at a local drugstore or “liberate” them during a morning walk. To best preserve the flowers’ colors, you should press them as soon as you get home. If you’re planning ahead, you can keep them in water until you’re ready to press them.
The easiest way to press flowers is with stuff you have at home. First, make sure they lay flat. (If they’re thick, like roses, you can cut them in half.) Then choose the heaviest book you can find (ideally not your favorite, since the moisture might wrinkle the pages), place the flower between two pieces of paper, and gently close the book. Weigh it down with more books (or a handy appliance) and let it sit. Change the paper out every few days, and your flowers will be ready in a week or two.
If you don’t want to wait, I’ve heard you can also press flowers with an iron. I’ve never tried this, so I don’t know how it works, but let me know if you do! I always love speeding up a craft process.
As kids, we all made art, expressing ourselves without worrying about whether we were “good.” As we grow up, we imbibe the idea that we have to have some natural talent in order to spend time making things. But I really believe that crafting is good for you — and bringing that creative, open spirit to your Friday night practice is the perfect way to welcome in Shabbat. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!