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Help me find a fun new hobby!
March 30, 2009 9:38 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun hobbies for a crafty, nerdy couple to pick up?

My boyfriend and I are looking for activities we can do together. (No, not those kinds of activities!). We're both very hands-on people (heh) so we're especially looking for things we can make. For instance, we really like baking together and learning interesting techniques (current project - learning the process of crystallizing flowers for decorating cakes and cupcakes). However, baking produces rather perishable results when you do it right, and I'd like to have something to put somewhere and point to and say "I made this!", so we're trying to come up with other ideas.

What are some relatively low cost, not too time-intensive, super-fun skills to learn or projects to do? Some ideas we've discussed and discarded are glass-blowing (too expensive) and clock-making (no access to power tools and such). We tend to lean towards things that have a practical purpose and are not merely decorative. And we're both extremely nerdy, so the geekier the better. (We actually discussed building an orrery instead of a clock before realizing both were probably beyond us.)

Final caveat - he'll be moving across the country in three months so we're not looking for something that will take longer than that to build or master. Right now we're in Cambridge/Boston, if that helps.

Can't wait to see your suggestions, AskMe.
posted by shaun uh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Rocketry.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:43 PM on March 30, 2009


Pick an instructable!

Silk screening
Make an LED light saber
Hack a furby

You could also check out dorkbot in Boston -- they've got to have cool stuff going on.
posted by puckish at 9:57 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Light Box Photography
Origami (I like to use book pages)
Build invisible bookshelves, a wine glass chandelier and other Ready Made-esque projects.
And this is not a craft, but every nerdy couple should do crosswords in bed.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:59 PM on March 30, 2009


You can stencil your favorite nerds from history onto t-shirts.
(Easy way to do stencils: manipulate an image on photoshop so that it looks like it could be cut into a good stencil (only white and black, appropriate level of detail), print it onto the matte side of freezer paper, cut out what you want to be painted with an exacto knife, iron onto shirt, paint (I like Jacquard fabric paint), enjoy!)
posted by phunniemee at 10:09 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Paper mache is very cheap, and fun. Use a glass head as a base, and masks are super easy to make.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:42 PM on March 30, 2009


Brewing beer?
posted by mynameisluka at 10:56 PM on March 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would think again about glass blowing... did that as a kid, blowtorch, some pyrex type glass, hella fun. Also, quick and dirty casting of lead (soft easy metal), you draw something in the ground, melt a cup of lead, pour (let cool) and *presto*, ankhs, crosses, whatnot. Although probably illegal... you can also put a bunch of the newer pennies in an empty coffee can, put it in the coals of a campfire for a while and pour out nickel.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:00 AM on March 31, 2009


Make beautiful music together!
posted by Brody's chum at 12:59 AM on March 31, 2009


Marquetry (and parquetry) are low-cost, beginner-friendly and can produce some really nice results. Basically all you need is a few sheets of veneer (ebay and other online sources are good - you can get bags of offcuts for very little), some masking tape, glue, a cheap scalpel and blades and some bits of plywood or other board to stick your work to. Before you know it you'll be making all kinds of decorative wooden hooha.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:28 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


GF and I (well, ok, mostly gf) made candles last weekend. We got some microwavable wax and filled old teacups that we purchased at Goodwill. Very clever idea of hers, and they look very nice. You may also think about photography (frame the photos and hang them on the wall) or furniture refinishing - they're both things you'd bring with you anyway if you're moving, right?

Now might also be the best time to build a kite.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:01 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Make Magazine, and it's sister Craft are full of geeky DIY you might want to check out.
posted by Caravantea at 5:52 AM on March 31, 2009


Stained glass is pretty easy, relatively low entry costs and you can make some pretty cool stuff. Or some really ugly stuff, depending on your preferences.
posted by electroboy at 6:22 AM on March 31, 2009


Book binding and box making (using covered box board)?
posted by quosimosaur at 6:30 AM on March 31, 2009


Model village? This story was reported just yesterday. Took them 20 years and lots of love.
posted by freya_lamb at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2009


If you're open to ideas, try just going to any toy store or craft store and seeing what they've got for the all-in-one craft kits for kids. Some of them are very girly ("decorate your own diary! make your own bracelts! paint your own tea sets!"), but you can also find glass painting, soap making, and other such kits.

What's great about going with a kit pitched to kids is that it'll be on the easy side, you'll get enough materials to make a decent little starter kit, and...you don't have to go with the duckies or bunnies they suggest, and decorate a plate with the cast of Firefly or paint little penii all over it if you feel like it. (Which would be kind of awesome, actually.) And they're also a fairly inexpensive way to introduce yourselves to something, and you can always go back to the craft store for more supplies if you really get into it (the make-your-own-soap kit usually isn't the "make it from scratch with lye and fat" kind, it's usually a stock of blank glycerin soap, and you melt it in the microwave, dye it or scent it with oils, add other fancy-ass stuff if you want, and then pour it into a mold instead, and hey presto now you have lavendar scented soap studded with oatmeal grains; all you have to do to make more of that kind of soap is get more lavendar oil and blank glycerin soap, and you just keep the molds that came in the kit).

That's actually exactly what I've done for years; I get very crafty in the summer, and tend to stumble upon some craft kit each summer, try it out, get obsessive and make 50 of the whatevers, and then get bored and give all of them away to friends. It's still fun; I now know how to make soap, make my own liqueur, make my own jam, and knit that way.

....Um, not that you'll find a kids' craft kit for liqueur making. But that's so amazingly easy you don't need a kit -- take vodka, take fruit, dump both in a big jar, cover the jar and leave it in the corner for a few months, then strain out the fruit, strain out the other gack, add a little sugar syrup and voila, you've got amaretto or fragolo or limoncello or what have you. (There are specific quantities according to each recipe, but that's the basic concept.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on March 31, 2009


Letterboxing - make your own rubber stamps, collect stamps when you travel. It's a craftier version of geocaching.

http://www.letterboxing.org/
posted by Mrs_Eep at 8:36 AM on March 31, 2009


Wine making is quite easy--a lot less labor-intensive than beer making, and the supplies are easy to get. I brewed beer for many years, and have been making wine for about 5, and am turning out some good stuff (and cheap).

But if you want something really cool, try welding. I took it up about a year ago, and it's all kinds of fun, if you have a yard to do it in. Start-up cost is about $150, which will give you the ability to make garden structures and such. There's plenty of information on the web to get you started.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:36 AM on March 31, 2009


To build onto puckish's suggestion of hacking a Furby, circuit bending.

Customize your shoes! Sneaker Freaker runs frequent tutorials like this one.

Vinyl toy customization, if you get way into it, is shockingly way more complicated then coloring a blank doll with Crayolas.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:13 AM on March 31, 2009


Make models! Bonus points if you make The Enterprise or something similarly nerdy.
posted by radioamy at 10:33 AM on March 31, 2009


I'll second letterboxing.

Do you like boardgames? If so I'd recommend trying out some new ones and then perhaps designing a new one of your own together. Board Game Geek has tons of information on games to try and game design.
posted by shesbookish at 11:53 AM on March 31, 2009


I prefer cooking with my nerdy man. We like to look at alternatives to the usual ingredients. This makes for interesting creations and disasters.
posted by redandblue at 1:05 PM on March 31, 2009


Make your own cigar box ukuleles. Learn to play them together.
posted by cior at 1:25 PM on March 31, 2009


Make jewelry or similar things from stones or glass picked up on the beach.

Where I live there are always glass fragments on the edge of the beaches that have been washed up and the edges smoothed from the waves. They come in many different colors. I'm sure there are places online that will tell you how-to do this.

Also, you said you don't have tools for any clock-making. These can be had from kits that are already cut ( the clockworks are also sold as well) and just need assembling and finishing.
posted by Taurid at 2:38 PM on March 31, 2009


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