Looking for goal-oriented, creative hobbies
July 5, 2009 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Ms. Quizicalcoatl is looking for an artistic hobby, but she is very goal-oriented. Help!

Now that all the schooling is done and the job is got, Ms. Quizicalcoatl is looking for a creative outlet. 30-odd years of working towards a career type goal have left her a very goal oriented person.

She'd love to explore some artistic or creative activities. The problems she's run against are 1) she's not a naturally creative person and 2) she likes objective benchmarks and much of art is subjective.

Things she's already explored are amateur level knitting, and jewelry making. She's mentioned accordion lessons, but doesn't really know where to begin with it. She'd like something unique and something where part of the artistry is being able to complete it at all.

Finally, between job and family, a suggestion to spend a year in Tibet learning Buddhist chant would probably not be the best suggestion.
posted by Quizicalcoatl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
How about baking? I'm an amateur baker, and I often find myself daydreaming about the sorts of confections I'll be able to make once I've learned more about the "art". Also, in the meantime, she'll either have delicious results of her labor, or else she will have only spent a few bucks on ingredients for garbage salad.
posted by scarykarrey at 6:50 PM on July 5, 2009 [4 favorites]

What about quilting? There are a lot of how-to books, as well as instructions for patterns available. This book is great. It has simple to more complex quilt patterns and gives you a list of exactly how much fabric to buy, the templates, the instructions and a picture of how the completed quilt will look. Going to quilt shops to pick out fabric is pretty addictive and the staff at the shops are helpful and often have workshops to teach different techniques. Once you really get going with quilting, you can dye or print your own fabrics and design your own patterns, which is fun.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Weird musical instrument sounds good to me. The goals would be the pieces she's learning, and though the results would be subjective to an extent, she could use the judgment of her teacher as a substitute for objectivity until she gets confident with assessing her own development. She could start by finding a teacher in her area. Depending on the instrument, some teachers might even be willing to lend or rent her one until she decides whether she really wants to invest in the hobby.
posted by No-sword at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

pottery - throwing on a wheel

It is somewhat creative, it requires skill, and it is benchmark-able. If you learn to throw pots on a wheel you don't have to be too creative. Once you learn you will have some very nice functional art. Functional art does not have to be subjective. If you are trying to make a mug and the product you create functions as a mug then it works. I know a number of non-creative types who are very good a wheel-throwing. There is also the fun of glazing. Again this can be just a skill you learn, but it has a very satisfying creative outcome.
posted by fifilaru at 6:57 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Throwing and firing pottery might be a good fit for her.

For example, there's both logical and kinesthetic aspects to learning how to throw a pot on a wheel. She'll see fairly rapid improvements in her technique without creativity coming into the process.

Next, she'll have to learn how to pull and shape the clay without committing a catastrophe. From small bowls, to tall vases, to plates, to huge bowls, to teapots, there's always a new challenge.

Finally, learning how to mix her own glazes, and understanding the chemistry behind both predictable results and happy accidents is one hell of a long journey. If she moved on to raku, even learning how to build her own kiln, she could be as happy as a pig in kaolin.

And along the way, she'll probably surprise and delight herself with how she's nurtured her creative side as well.
posted by maudlin at 6:59 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Stained glass is super easy to learn and even the simplest projects can look really impressive.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:11 PM on July 5, 2009

She sounds like an excellent candidate for blacksmithing.

I absolutely love it - it's incredibly empowering, the learning curve isn't too intimidating and there are plenty of places to learn. Just look up your local artist's blacksmithing association (mine is MABA) and start hammering!

It's very goal oriented - I remember the first time I made a hinge - actually took two pieces of metal and turned them into a rudimentary machine - it was amazing. (This was, of course, before I made my first blade, which was a whole other kind of mind-bendingly awesome.)
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:25 PM on July 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

Stained glass, though lovely and fun, isn't really goal-oriented.

How about origami? Once you get to a certain level, being able to just make the patterns is very difficult. The goal is quite clear for premade patterns, and it's easy to come up with your own goals if you discover you like creating patterns, not just following them.
posted by jeather at 7:27 PM on July 5, 2009

Like baking, but takes longer: how about cheesemaking? It's definitely an area that once you've tried some standard recipes, you can branch out with different cultures, milks, etc. If she can make connections with local farms, then she can try raw-milk cheeses of all types. In addition to creating a cheese that really speaks to her, there's also the goal of reproducing the same cheese over and over, which is key if she might want to sell the results of her efforts.
posted by cabingirl at 7:42 PM on July 5, 2009

Pottery sounds great to me. If learning to use the potter's wheel doesn't work out (I've somehow never manage to keep the clay on the wheel and off the wall/windows), there are plenty of classes where you just do pinch pots, etc. Look for a class at a local arts center. Actually, if she finds an arts center she likes, they'll probably offer a nice variety of classes so she could try out several different things. Sometimes, these places offer single-day classes that are perfect for trying something new. You almost always end up with a finished product to take home that you've made yourself.
posted by belau at 7:45 PM on July 5, 2009

Stained glass, though lovely and fun, isn't really goal-oriented.

Perhaps I should have explained more. It's a clearly-defined, step-by-step process with the ultimate goal being the finished project. There's room for creativity in choosing projects, patterns, glass, etc. and completing each step of the process (cutting, grinding, foiling, soldering, etc.) brings it's own sense of satisfaction along the way. It's not difficult to master and the better you get, the bigger and more complicated projects you can try.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:59 PM on July 5, 2009

If she's tried jewelry making, she's probably somewhat dexterous. Maybe wood carving would do the trick? There are many challenging pieces to do even at the beginner level, and there are ways you can incorporate other media (i.e., relief carving of famous scenes or landscapes.)

Or perhaps designing furniture and woodworking?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:52 PM on July 5, 2009

You said you've tried knitting, what about making clothes (and/or sewing, should you be inclined)? It involves sort of a mathematical process in making the patterns, AND a creative side.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 9:06 PM on July 5, 2009

I'm goal-oriented and learning musical instruments has been good for me. Some goals: "I want to be able to play [tune name] like this recording," "I want to be able to play [complex score] entirely from memory," "I want to play Lady of Spain at the open mic in three months," "I want to compose a three-part waltz in A minor," "Now that I can play accordion, I want to learn hurdy-gurdy..."

One challenge: You make reassuring progress, and then you hit a plateau. That's when I start recording myself. When I think I'm not getting any better, I listen to a recording I made a few months ago and I can hear the improvement.
posted by PatoPata at 9:41 PM on July 5, 2009

As far as fiber arts go, I'm a novice crocheter, and I can only do patterns that directly address a problem-- coasters so we don't wreck the coffee table, baskets for loose socks, wristwarmers so I don't freeze at work. Blankets and clothing don't really peg the "I need a thing" meter enough to make me want to do them.

She might try learning a language, too-- perhaps something that gets a lot of use in your area. I like my languages obscure-- I spent two years learning Scots Gaelic-- but something you could use to talk to shopkeepers and read signs would be goal-oriented.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:26 PM on July 5, 2009

She could try baking a cake for a cake contest! (Shameless self link.)
posted by disillusioned at 12:56 AM on July 6, 2009

What about cabinetry and furniture making? Seriously, it involves the hands, mind has to stay focused on not losing a limb with power tools, and you definitely make something. It is a skill that is not learned easily but there are a lot of resources and a large community.

If she becomes very good, it is also a business opportunity.
posted by jadepearl at 7:06 AM on July 6, 2009

One word: scrapbooking! It’s great for so many reasons:

1 - Easy to learn but lots of room for growth -- designs can go from very basic to extremely detailed
2 - Can be done at home, at any time – very little special equipment needed
3 - Relatively cheap (of course, like anything, it can be as expensive as you want it to be)
4 - Make excellent keepsakes and gifts – the end product has value

And lastly, it’s VERY satisfying for a goal-oriented person, as there are several mini-goals (creating each page layout) leading to a large, final goal (completing the entire scrapbook).
posted by yawper at 7:15 AM on July 6, 2009

I vote for gardening. Very creative, good excercise, easy to do. And the finished product is so beautiful. Kids/grandkids can help. Sitting in the middle of a beautiful garden that you designed and implemented is incredibly satisfying.
posted by raisingsand at 8:15 AM on July 6, 2009

These are all fantastic suggestions! I can't wait to show her all the ideas when she gets home from work this evening.

I've been boasting about how awesome askmefi is and you've all really backed me up here.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 8:34 AM on July 6, 2009

Basket weaving: I received a simple basket weaving kit as a gift and had a really great and focused time following the instructions and creating a finished product. I'm sure you could find books and websites with patterns and instructions. Since you're following instructions, the activity is less creative and more goal oriented. As she progressed, learning about and mimicking historical styles and techniques might also be a good goal-oriented pursuit.

Needle point or embroidery: other crafts where you can find multitudes of patterns to follow which take the pressure off your personal creativity (or lack of). If she's not into the more cutesy or grandma-esque patterns available, check out sublime stitching for a more modern take on stitching.
posted by dahliachewswell at 12:52 PM on July 6, 2009

Seconding making clothes (or sci-fi costumes, or historical recreations, if she is that way inclined.) Actually learning how patterns are constructed and being able to create something that fits anyone is really cool and actually helps in "everyday" life as well (this awesome blouse on sale is a good deal because it will fit perfectly if I take the dart in a bit; this other one will never look right on me because it's cut for someone with completely different shoulders).

And the goal is - finishing something that somebody can then wear. :)

The creativity comes in because once you know how to construct a basic pattern block you can change it around in infinite ways to fit your own design tastes.
posted by oblique red at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2009

She can try NaNoWriMo, where the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Quality doesn't matter.

There are also similar versions of this idea for zines, comics, scripts, and editing previous work. I know the zine one's called the 24 Hours Zine Thing but I don't quite recall the rest.
posted by divabat at 9:02 AM on July 7, 2009

Woodturning. Making bowls, ornaments, christmas presents, beautiful pens, decorative items (eggs, mushrooms, etc), vases, and many other things is a good start on a mini lathe. The hobby is much larger than I expected and I'm just starting it.

As you get more advanced, you can use more beautiful woods and multiple woods to create intricate designs that are then turned into beautiful pieces.

I'm suffering from information overload on this hobby right now, but Woodcraft stores (nationwide) offer beginning classes. I'll be attending one in February and I can't wait! :)

posted by ick at 9:33 AM on December 31, 2009

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