We spoke with our Maker of the Month, Colleen Pastoor, about the allure of handmade fun and tips to create games your friends and family will love.
How did you get into the world of Maker culture and blogging? Have you always been into DIY culture or is it an interest you discovered as an adult?
I've always been a 'maker', even growing up, whether woodworking with my papa or sewing with my grandma. I would concoct recipes for babysitters to test taste, collect pinecones for wreaths with my dad, and craft angel ornaments for Christmas with my mom. I'm so glad that these were values and skills that were taught to me. I started crafting in a bigger way when I got into event planning in university. You could make an event rock with less money if you put the sweat in. When we bought our first place, party decor became home decor, and now it's a way of life. Now that I have kids of my own, I want them to have the same opportunity to acquire skills while they are young and learn to value the process of making.
What are some of the benefits of creating your own handmade fun?
When I think of DIY, I don't just think of the things that I make to save money... I think of the things I make because it's fun to try. We love to try making new things, trying new techniques and tools, and enjoy the process of learning. I rarely make the same thing twice (I guess you could say I have a short attention span), which is why I love blogging. Instead of repetition and creating the same project over and over to sell, I can create new things constantly. In short, making is oftentimes how we choose to 'play' around here.
As far as handmade fun? We love that these projects can be personalized. Whether that's a wooden memory game with all your faces on it, giant dominoes, or fun chalkboards, I love that I can create exactly what we want without blowing our budget. Our kids already help out (not with the power tools!) and they see the satisfaction of getting to play with things when they are complete. I think that's such an important lesson in today's instant gratification culture!
Do you have any tips for other makers who are trying to put their own spin on classic games?
Just do it! Whatever you think will be fun, try it! I got a lovely email from a reader who modified my giant dice game to suit a traditional game from their culture, and another who had customized all the yard games with their last name for a reunion. I had another reader mark up pieces of a giant Jenga game project to double as dominoes to save on storage space. The best thing about making things yourself is that you can do whatever you want and it won't be 'wrong'.
Why do you think people have more of a sentimental attachment to handmade items?
There's something so special about a piece that has had love and care poured into it. I think of some of the pieces we have in our home that my papa (who has passed away) made for us, and although they're not something we would run out and buy, they're something we will never let go of because he poured himself into his work and that's a memory I always want around. Likewise, we are so proud of the things that we have made ourselves. There's something that feels so good about sitting at a table that you made, surrounded by friends for a dinner party. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, it's facilitating great memories.
I also think that in our culture of mass production, there's a movement towards handmade pieces. We're becoming more aware of waste and most of us struggle with having too much 'stuff', so I find we are looking to invest in pieces that won't become 'stuff' to deal with, rather pieces we cherish and make room for. Everyone can have the same sign from a chain store, but it won't be something you'll want to hand down. Whereas if you purchase handmade or make that sign yourself, there's a unique quality that you won't get from any other piece. That's worth hanging on to.
What are the three tools you couldn't live without?
Power tools? Brad nailer, cordless drill, and my Dremel Moto-Saw. But I also wouldn't ever give up my hammer, measuring tape, and caulking gun.
How do you incorporate Dremel tools into your projects?
I LOVE that the Moto-Saw is so versatile, I can use it as a jigsaw (one of my favorites) or as a scroll saw for more intricate work. When you're cutting out anything that isn't square - which is much more fun anyways - this is the perfect tool.
What's the one piece of advice you wish you could give every aspiring maker/blogger?
It can be scary to put yourself out there and share your work since there are always critics, but there's way more support. Just give it a shot and see if it's for you. I have some friends that have tried blogging and they don't like it- they feel too much pressure, but those that put themselves out there and love it really love it. It's a creative outlet and challenge all in one. And wouldn't you rather try and know instead of wonder ‘what if'? You don't lose anything by giving it a shot, but you do have the opportunity to gain a new passion.
To see more of Colleen’s work, check out her blog.
Don’t forget, we also have a live Twitter chat with Colleen on June 24th at 12pm CST. Follow Dremel on Twitter for additional information and details.