A Crafter’s Beginnings

A Crafter's Beginnings - The Ticking Heart

Welcome to my Craft Blog! My name is Charlene and I’m a crafter at heart (always have been and always will be!). Being creative in some way, shape or form is an essential part of my daily life that sustains me and makes me thrive. As the heart pumps blood to nourish the body, so my creative brain pumps creative energy to nourish me down to my core. I cannot possibly fathom what life would be like without having the ability and talent to create something.

I have decided to start this blog as an outlet for my creative energy because I believe the various forms of art is what shapes and influences our everyday life and even makes our world a better place. Not only do I want to share the joy and love of creating with others like myself, but I want to spread joy and beauty to everyone everywhere! You don’t have to be a crafter to read this blog; all you need is an appreciation for art and beauty. I hope that you will find peace and feel inspired from the pieces I make.

To start off this blog, I decided to try to pinpoint when my creative passion began so I could weave my story and see where my creative roots came from. I remember making crafts as a child, so I figured the best place to start would be to go hunting through pictures of my childhood and find evidence of these memories. After looking at over thirty years of pictures, it seems I have been a crafter as early as kindergarten (possibly even earlier).

In elementary school, my teachers designated a time slot for arts and crafts. Sometimes we would colour or draw pictures, but other times we would make something, such as a clay handprint or a popsicle stick picture frame with a family picture inside. These handmade crafts were usually made to give to our parents and grandparents as gifts, especially around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Even in church, my Sunday School teachers organized arts and crafts activities with us, and my church also sponsored the Pioneer Club program for kids on Wednesday evenings where kids in the community could come and do arts and crafts there, too. My mom was a crafter, so naturally she volunteered her time as an instructor for the club program and took my siblings and me with her every Wednesday over the course of our childhood.

Christmas Ladder
Christmas Ladder I made in Pioneer Clubs (date made unknown). Photo Copyright © 2006, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

At home, my mom had a craft “tower,” which was a tall eight-drawer cabinet filled with everything from acrylic paints, Mod Podge and hot glue guns to embroidery thread, ribbon and yarn to cross stitch canvas and plastic canvas to pipe cleaners, magnets and popsicle sticks to glass beads, plastic beads, wood beads and perler beads to ceramic Christmas ornaments and miniature houses—a tickle trunk for crafters! Each Christmas season, my mom would pull out the acrylic paints and ceramic ornaments, beads and pipe cleaner, plastic canvas and yarn, and perler beads and let us make Christmas ornaments to give as Christmas gifts to family members.

Crafter Drawers
I learned well from my mom and purchased my own eight-drawer cabinet to organize my craft supplies, except I needed two of them! Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

I still have some of the ornaments I had painted and made as a child and continue to hang them on my Christmas tree every season (I’d share more pictures, but all my ornaments are in storage at the moment and I’m unable to find any other pictures I have taken over the years).

Christmas Decorations
Photo Copyright © 2014, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

Although my mom was busy managing a household of four children born within five years, I remember her occasionally sitting at her sewing machine where she sewed patch quilts (and crotched quilts), clothing for our dolls, dresses for my two sisters and myself, and Halloween costumes. Sometimes she would let me thread the machine and I would watch her sew. I was always amazed by how fast and accurately she sewed and how she could turn a piece of material into an article of clothing.

Below are a few of her handmade projects she made over the years (sorry for some of the poor quality photos—they were taken in a pre-digital age with a camera that required film):

Dolls with Clothing
Photo Copyright © 2014, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.
Dolls with Sheets and Pillows
Doll sheets and pillows made by Mom for our doll’s bunk bed (and yes, the baby on the top bunk is really my baby sister, Katie). Photo Copyright © 1990, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved
Top Left: Church outfits made by Mom for my brother, sisters and me. Top Right: Dress made by Mom for my school pictures. Bottom Left: Camo pants made by Mom for my birthday. Bottom Right: Grad dress made by Mom for my sister. Photo Copyrights © 1991, 1995, 2000, 2005, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.
Halloween Costumes
Halloween Costumes made by Mom: Left: Me as a clown. Middle: Me as Little Red Riding Hood and Ronnie as Jill (Jack & Jill). Right: Katie as Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin. Photo Copyright © 1991, 1993, 1995, Halloween Costumes, All Rights Reserved
Halloween Costumes 2
Halloween Costumes made by Mom: Left: Ronnie as an angel. Right: Me as the Bride of Frankenstein. Photo Copyrights © 1995 & 2011, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

My mom would let me use the scrap material from her sewing projects so I could make clothes for my Barbie dolls, although when I tried to sew, my projects never came out as nice as hers, so I didn’t particularly care to keep at it (it’s too bad I didn’t realize practice would help me improve over time). Instead, I would make the Barbie clothing in such a way that the material could be tied together instead of sewn (although, in the seventh grade, I used what I had learned in Home Econimics and designed and sewed a fish pillow for a boy I had a crush on—proof that I was perfectly capable of sewing with the right incentive!).

I wish I had a picture of the fish pillow as evidence that I can sew, but I never did take a picture of it before giving it away. However, I still have the gym bag I made in Home Economics in the ninth grade.

Gym Bag
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

Throughout my childhood, the most memorable Christmas and birthday gifts I received were things that allowed me to be creative, such as a diary, a magnetic drawing board (it was like an etch-a-sketch, but it let me copy and print my drawings before I erased them), a Spirograph, paint-by-numbers kits, latch hook rug kits, and embroidery thread and beads.

When the Spirograph appeared in the Michaels flyer before Christmas time approximately twenty years later, I was so excited that I made my husband bus with me to Michaels that very day so I could have one again! For those of you who don’t know what a Spirograph is, it’s a geometric drawing tool that produces mathematical roulette curves. I hope to one day use some of the designs in my handmade cards, but I’m still figuring out what designs I can make.

Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

I liked to draw in elementary school and often borrowed cartoon drawing books from the library so I could learn how to draw cartoons. Then I started tracing pictures of my favourite cartoons and eventually began drawing pictures by looking at another picture (although, I didn’t think I was all that skilled at drawing by freehand and didn’t pursue this further than junior high except for some doodling in my notebooks). These are some of my drawings:

Cartoons drawn using a cartoon drawing book (elementary school). Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.
Drawings that I traced from my favourite children’s books (elementary school). Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking  Heart, All Rights Reserved.
Spiderman Drawing
Drawings I did by tracing the outlines and drawing in the details by looking at the picture (junior high). Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.
More Drawings Cinderella
Drawings by freehand (junior high). Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.


Geometric Shape Art
Geometric Shape Art (junior high). Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.
Doodle Art
Doodle Art (high school). Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

In the sixth grade, I taught myself different knot styles and started making friendship bracelets with embroidery thread and then later on hemp string. I dabbled a little in beading around this time and made a few necklaces and bracelets, but I didn’t really get into beading much until my late twenties.

Friendship Bracelets
Photo Copyright © 2019, Small-Town Girl at Heart, All Rights Reserved.


My high school didn’t have an arts program, so I gradually switched my creative interests from crafting to writing fiction stories and scripts. I forgot all about how much I enjoyed crafting for about fifteen years and didn’t rediscover my love for it until about seven or eight years ago when I started making jewelery. I started slowly at first as I experimented tentatively, unsure of myself in the beginning.

Early Jewellery
Early Handmade Jewellery, Copyright 2007, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

I realized I had a bit of talent in making jewelery, but it needed some practice and refining, so I continued to make more pieces and gave them away to family as Christmas and birthday gifts. Sometimes friends and colleagues ask if they can see physical examples of my handmade jewelery, but I have to confess that I didn’t keep most of my pieces as they were made with a specific person in mind and given away.

One year, I went to a women’s retreat and attended a crafting workshop. The coordinator brought boxes and boxes of scrapbooking paper, stickers and embellishments and told us to jump right in. I had no idea what to make at first, but as I picked through the paper, an idea began to form for a birthday card I could make for my husband. I was so pleased with how the card turned out, and the following year, I decided to try making him a Valentine’s Day card.

Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

It was very amateurish, but he loved it anyway because it was handmade by me. So I decided to start making cards for the rest of my family members for birthdays and other special occasions. My early designs were rudimentary and you can tell I was trying to figure things out.

Just as my jewelery designs improved with each piece I made, my card designs also eventually improved over time (thank goodness, because these card designs above are pretty bad!).

Soon after, I opened a Pinterest account and began browsing for craft ideas and tips and tricks to improve my skills. I started planning my Christmas projects three months in advance (and then learned three months wasn’t enough time for all I wanted to do!).

The next Christmas, I made jewelery and spa gifts for the ladies and clocks, games and dioramas for the men in my family.

Christmas Gifts
Early Handmade Crafts, Copyright 2007, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved

And that was it for me; I was bitten by the craft bug and infected with endless thoughts and ideas and I always can’t wait to try my next project.

Now that I have rediscovered my first love, my husband has graciously given me the second bedroom in the basement suite we’re currently renting so I can have my own creative space and be able to focus on my writing and crafting projects without interruptions.

Crafting Workstation
Photo Copyright © 2019, The Ticking Heart, All Rights Reserved.

So here I am, writing this blog post in a room of my own, listening to Simon and Garfunkel (or whatever strikes my mood – currently it’s music from the Golden Oldies era), and sighing in satisfaction. When I’m in my creative element, whether it be writing, designing or working with my hands, I am the most fulfilled and content and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

I’m so thankful that the adults who were a part of my life in childhood fostered the type of environment in which I could express myself creatively and flourish in my art as they gave me the flexibility and encouragement to try different things. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post today.

I hope that you will find peace and inspiration through my blog and handmade creations!
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