Creative Parenting: “Poverty as Creative Catalyst,” by Khadijah Lacina
Khadijah Lacina is a regular guest columnist for Riehlife. Her previous post was "Creative Parenting: My Head Is Full of Poems." This post is number two in the series. We met through Story Circle Network.
In her series of articles, Khadijah shares how she stays sane by encouraging and nurturing creativity in herself and her children. Read about her life in Yemen at her blog Yemeni Journey. In this post she tells about so many things dear to my heart. In my life, it's been the handmade presents made from everyday materials that have meant the most to me. We don't need to commodify crafts or creativity.
Khadijah is a transplant from Wisconsin's Kickapoo Valley. She's lived in Yemen for almost nine years with her husband and eight children.
Poverty as Creative Catalyst
by Khadijah Lacina
Every time I go on the internet, I am bombarded with images of things I “need” to have to enhance my creativity, to find the artist within...exotic yarns, expensive fabrics, little doo-dads and widgets and what-not that are necessary in order to make every project perfect. Quilt patterns calling for specific fabric from specific companies. Crochet patterns that rely on $20.00 a skein yarn. Crafts for children that require all sorts of specific paints and materials.
I couldn't afford these things in the States, and I can't afford them here in Yemen- even if they were available.
So what do people who don't have stellar craft budgets do?
Here's an example. A few days ago the children decided to make some paper chains to decorate the house for the upcoming Eid celebration. You know, the ones you made in school out of construction paper and white glue. Thing is, I have yet to even see construction paper in Yemen, and if I did find it, I doubt if such a luxury item would fit into our budget. Sukhailah told me what they wanted to do, and why they couldn't do it.
“Why not make your own colored paper?” I asked. She immediately understood, and the children spent an hour or so on the floor with old waxy crayons, coloring both sides of white printer paper. They even mixed colors and made “variegated” as Mu'aadh said. Then they cut out their strips, and made their beautiful multi-colored paper chains to hang up in every room.
Another example. A friend left us a bunch of quilting magazines when she moved to Egypt. At first, paging through them, the girls became disheartened, as they saw the intricate patterns calling for very specific cloth and colors to make them work. All we have is a motley collection of fabrics given to us over the last few years- certainly nothing that was meant to go together like the patterns in these magazines called for.
I hauled the bag out, though, and told them to pick out a pattern that they liked. I picked one out as well. Then we sorted through the different sizes and colors of cloth, until we came up with our own color schemes. Then we altered the patterns to fit what we had on hand.
The results are very satisfying, thank you. As we did it, I told them that this was the heart of quilting before it became an “art” form- and in a way, it took a lot more work doing it our way than just getting a pattern and heading off to the fabric store.
And so it goes on. We make gifts for each other out of whatever we have on hand--dolls for the girls, a cardboard box dresser for doll clothes, brightly colored rayon fabric for draw string bags, an old drink jar decorated to make a pencil holder, coloring books drawn by hand and photocopied...the list goes on.
And, as with their multi-hued paper chains, the end results are incredibly, undeniably, totally without compromise, ours. And that's what makes it all worth it!
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