Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hacer: To Make, Do

My favorite job I’ve ever had was working in my college costume shop. I was hired to make whatever costume pieces were needed for the main stage production happening at the time. It was a 10-hour a week work-study job, minimum wage, but I would have done it for free.

I worked with 9 other students, every afternoon after classes, listening to show tunes and stitching bloomers. It was so relaxing and enjoyable, a needed break from the constant mental demands of classes. In the shop I was able to use my hands to make a piece of flat fabric into a three-dimensional garment that someone could wear. I loved the process of turning nothing into something, using my hands and at the end, having something tangible to show for my hard work. All day in classes I would use  my mind to solve theoretical problems or try to fit one more fact into my brain for a test. When I got into the shop, I was able to relax my mind, still work hard and problem solve, but using a different part of the brain.

Now, a couple of years out of college, I spend much of my day in front of a computer (like many do) where I use the same part of my brain as I did in classes in college. I love mental problem solving and I love the internet (hello blog!) but from my experience working in the costume shop in college, I realize that I need to make time for making, not just because I get a great set of curtains (insert other item here) from my labor, but purely for the process and therapeutic nature of making. In the age of the Internet, our pace is sped up and too much time in front of the computer can melt the mind. The therapeutic act of making, working with your hands, slows down the mind again so it can balance back into real world life.

The DIY and craft movements are HUGE right now. Etsy has so many beautiful shops filled with great handmade items. It’s fantastic that making things yourself and with your hands is so valued, but often you hear about the finish product (someone else’s pictures on Etsy, etc.)  or the specific steps of how to make something (so many awesome how-tos!), but not often do you hear about the specific and fantastic process of making something.  

When you make something yourself, it’s awesome that you saved all that money by painting and sanding that chair you found on the sidewalk, but it’s even more awesome that you thought about the new design, learned how to sand and painted the whole thing. That feeling is the best. And here, in this space, I want to gather around that feeling, talk about it and cultivate it. This is a space for makers on making and the importance of making to sanity and happiness.

A note on the name: I studied Spanish in college, ‘Hacer,’ comes from the Spanish verb which means ‘to make, to do’. In Spanish, there is no distinction between the two, which I have found to be a truism in my life. When I’m making, I’m doing and vice versa. Putting it together has become a mantra for me. Don’t try to define or distinguish, just ‘hacer’, whatever that means for you. -Alice

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