I Can Make That!

by Tammy Harrison

I received a letter from my aunt telling me that she was creating a beautiful fireplace screen out of old shutters. She was rummaging around in an old barn and ran across the shutters and put her artistic mind to work and came up with a unique idea! The price was right as well: FREE except for a couple of hinges!

She took the shutters home and after careful examination determined that they were made out of worn barn wood that had never held a coat of paint or varnish. When the hinges were installed and she placed the shutters in front of her fireplace she was dismayed to see that the lovely character of the barn wood clashed with the finish on the mantle and bookshelves that accentuated her fireplace.

Another idea came to her mind that she should paint the shutters and then apply a chemical to crackle the paint, hence an antique finish. By the time her "free" shutters were completed to her satisfaction, they cost her well over $300!

If you are like me, you go to a craft store or sale and look at items and say "I can make that!" You certainly can, but can you make it for the price that the vendor is selling it for? Can you make it better than the vendor? Will you even get around to making it?

I used to be just terrible about the "I can make that" syndrome. I would find something in a craft store that was just adorable but pricey. I would memorize the details and when I left the building I would take a notepad out and design the item on paper with as much detail as my wee mind could remember. When I had the opportunity, I would rush out to my craft supplier and purchase everything I would need-including many items I already had at home but I wanted to be sure I had enough and didn't want to have to run out for supplies again! Then I would begin the project.

That's all I would do, the beginning. Time was usually the biggest factor in my not finishing the project, but nonetheless, I quit before finishing and went to another craft show!

After we moved six times in three years, I finally had the gumption and incentive to clean out my craft stash. I could not believe the number of "I can make that" projects I had started and never completed! Some lucky person received at least a dozen dish-pack moving boxes full of supplies for their next "I can make that" project that week!

How did I get out of that habit? It was not easy, that is for sure! I first started by listing all of the birthdays, anniversaries and people that I would normally make a craft or gift for and I placed that list in my date book (which never leaves my side). Then, I devised a three-step program that keeps me grounded at all times in craft stores:

  • What is my purpose in making that item?
  • Who am I making that item for?
  • Can I save money by making a number of that item?

That's all it took! With my short list of people that I purchase gifts for and my three-step program, I have maintained three craft trunks (no more, no less) for over three years! I sat down and computed the amount of money I poured into my "I can make that" projects the last year I was out of control and had spent over $1450! What did I have to show for it? Dish-pack boxes full of supplies. Had to go out and purchase gifts for the intended as well because I never finished the ones I was making for them!

Tammy Harrison is a wife and mother of three children ages four and under. She has a degree from Mizzou in Human Environmental Sciences, Consumer Economics and Management, Personal Financial Management. She is the Independent Creative Representative for Home-Based Working Moms. Visit her website at http://www.hbwm.com, or email Tammy at HBWM_Creative_Rep@hotmail.com Subscribe to HBWM free eNewsletter at hbwmoms-e-news-subscribe@egroups.com

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