March might be the month of spring, but it is also National Quilting Month and National Craft Month! A time to celebrate and appreciate the two artistic forms. Is it coincidence that the two commemorated activities come in the same month? I have to wonder since they are so closely related.
National Quilting Month has been sponsored by the National Quilting Association (NQA) since 1991 when it designated the third Saturday in March as National Quilting Day; over the years it has expanded to the entire month of March giving quilters more time for shop-hops, shows, and classes. In 1994, the Craft & Hobby Association created National Craft Month to help people rediscover and learn about the benefits of crafting. While crafting may conjure up images of kids working with popsicle sticks and glue, crafters, in reality, are people of all ages who produce something tangible with their hands.
I quilt and I craft. Both provide me with joy and a sense of accomplishment but I have no idea if that makes me a quilter, crafter, or a kind of artist. The word ‘craft’ is synonymous with the word ‘trade,’ meaning skilled labor in an area such as weaving, carpentry, pottery, etc. Crafting also means creating anything by hand that has an artistic aspect to it such as knitting, scrapbooking, jewelry making, etc.
Whether one is quilting or crafting, there is skill and creativity involved. Both are done with the hands and require supplies and equipment unique to the project. Either can be an occupation with some earning a living by selling their creations or by teaching their skill.
Quilts and various crafts can be beautiful as well as useful or not. It is for this reason that we have shows and museums to expose, share, study and enjoy the skill. Whether quilt or craft, both adhere to aesthetic principles by the materials chosen, shapes used, or how the various pieces come together. The completed pieces may be useful or have no purpose at all. When they provide beauty or please our sense of aesthetics, the outcome is art.
Benefits of Quilting and Crafting
Regardless of how we see ourselves, quilting and crafting are intertwined and interdependent. Crafting, whether quilting or otherwise, offers outlets for hands-on creativity and the benefits are numerous:
- Relieves stress by turning on our endorphins, decreasing blood pressure and heart rate, reducing fight or flight, heart attack and stroke.
- Increases mental acuity with problem solving, math or geometry, and critical thinking.
- Meaningful work or sense of accomplishment provides pleasure rewards for the brain.
- Increases appreciation, empathy and tolerance of others and other forms of creativity.
- Builds confidence and inspires one to think ‘outside of the box’ in other aspects of their lives.
- Brings people together as they enjoy and inspire one another.
- Helps one learn about themselves and their values, beliefs, and attitudes.
- Boosts productivity, resilience, concentration and focus by boosting neurons between the right and left brain hemispheres.
Celebrate Quilting and Crafting
There are any number of ways one can celebrate quilting and crafting in March or any other time.
- Rediscover a prior skill.
- Try something new or expand on a skill.
- Visit a museum or craft or quilt show to appreciate and learn more about the craft or art.
- Spend time with someone who quilts or crafts to learn more about their work.
- Take a class (virtual or in-person) in a craft that interests you.
Do whatever it takes to get into the spirit of crafting or quilting. Let your itching fingers, yearning heart, and skill set combine with your creativity to make something. Reap the rewards that come with discovering yourself through hands-on crafting or quilting and celebrate and appreciate whatever your accomplishment may be!