Part of my purpose of setting up CraftCourses was to help people be creative in their lives - in whatever form that may take - and in doing so protect and nourish that fragile state that it sometimes is 'to be human'.
I found Rose's story below very relatable and think most of us can identify with the sense of peace that comes from being absorbed in a creative task.
As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week (organised by Mental Health UK) it seems the perfect time to share a local artist and friend Rose’s personal account of how practising craftsmanship can help enormously in difficult times of life.
Here is her story...
"In the middle of a crucial project at university, I had a really traumatic experience. I remember how tense my body felt at that time, how slow my reactions. The sensation of people talking and the words washing over me without my being able to grasp their significance.
My hands reach for the lump of clay in front of me and I begin to create without thought for the technical process or outcome – just present with the action of making.
This was the first time my making became therapy, the first time it was a tool to help restore my mental wellbeing.
I dig my fingers in and breathe in the rich earthy smell, inhaling its origin. I think of clay and soil and fire, I think of water and rivers and the flow of life. I imagine the clay dug from the river bed formed into vessels and returning to the river to carry water.
I look down and cupped in my hand is a tiny vessel, a cocoon, a womb, a place of safety.
I repeat the process, and my mind thanks my hands.
It is only later on reflection that I see the significance and benefit of what came over me at that point in my life. I gave myself the space to make without thinking and it produced beautiful results.
Taking the time to learn a new skill, spend time with others and appreciate the beauty in making is a very effective way to maintain and improve general wellbeing and I would highly recommend it to anyone."
It is encouraging to see the Government recognising the role of the Arts in mental health, both to patients and the NHS. Studies show clearly how much money can be saved if arts and crafts became available on prescription.*
In 2016, researchers from Drexel University in Pennsylvania discovered a 75% decrease in levels of the stress hormone Cortisol after participants had spent 45 minutes crafting... makes sense to us!