Have Desk, Need Hobby
December 9, 2017 12:22 PM   Subscribe

In an effort to peel myself away from the computer more often, I am moving a desk into my walk-in closet to set up a "crafting space" of sorts -- however, I don't yet have a crafting hobby to use this space for!

I have dabbled in drawing (mostly making comics) and jewelry making (using beads) in the past, but since my interest in these hobbies ebbed away years ago and left them with some negative associations, I'd kind of like to try something new. They are still there as fallbacks if I don't take to anything else.

I'm open to various interpretations/genres of crafting, but would prefer something with a beginner-friendly learning curve -- I have a bad habit of trying to pick up hobbies that take years of singleminded effort to achieve basic competence (like coding or piano) and would like something more welcoming to the unambitious. Since it's going to be an alternative for a very entrenched habit (staring at the computer all day) I'm hoping to find something that will feel cozy and pleasant to do, as opposed to intimidating and demanding. I have a Michael's at my disposal for craft supplies.

I'd like to avoid anything with a lot of fumes, if at all possible, since this space isn't very well ventilated. Some gluing is okay but I probably don't want to be using a soldering iron or spray painting or something like that.

I'm open to working through a list/book of eclectic one-off crafts rather than trying to specialize, if anyone has any recommendations along those lines.

Obvious Possibilities I've Already Eliminated
- Knitting (it's never really interested me for some reason; it's also not much of a desk activity)
- Sewing (I don't have easy access to a fabric store, so I'd have to buy the cloth online, which seems like a bad way to buy something so tactile)
- Arduino and other technical maker-y stuff (I tried this last year and it had the learning curve issue... I'd be open to kits for kids, potentially)
- Since this question is about finding a craft to go with the new craft space, please no suggestions for outdoor crafts, sit-on-the-couch-and-watch-TV crafts, or kitchen stuff like cake decorating. And obviously nothing heavily computer mediated since this is about unplugging!
posted by space snail to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Papercutting and engineering eg making popup cards/books
posted by KateViolet at 12:34 PM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

How about snail mail notes/letting writing/greeting cards? You could be as minimal (store bought blank cards) or elaborate (craft your own) as you like. I recently took it up as a hobby and found I love sending mail for friends and family to receive (and bonus, they usually are delighted as well).
posted by carabiner at 12:43 PM on December 9, 2017

Handlettering, calligraphy, etc? There's a ton of intro guides out there, you can get started with a limited material set, and explore. I have several friends who are having a lot of fun designing and doing a quote every few days. And if you want, you can get into exploring things like different colouring options (inks, water colours, pens, etc.)

Polymer clay work might also be interesting to you - you'd need a way to cure them (the preference is for a toaster oven you just use for the polymer to avoid transfer of chemicals, but there are some options if you just want to use a regular oven.) Again, tons of guides - a lot of people assume it's for beads, but there are other kinds of jewelry pieces (including things like keyfobs or zipper pulls), or sculptures and decorative objects.
posted by modernhypatia at 12:43 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

beginner-friendly learning curve.... an alternative for a very entrenched habit (staring at the computer all day) I'm hoping to find something that will feel cozy and pleasant to do

Not a craft but something that fit this niche for me: jigsaw puzzles. It's especially nice in that you don't need a lot of creative juice to get going, and if you have a dedicated table for it, it's easy to start-and-stop whenever you need to without worrying about cleanup or drying time or whatever.

Craft: papercraft stuff? There are make your own paper clock/automata kits, or paper-scrolling stuff

Making dollhouses or similar miniature models, like model trains, model cars/planes/boats, model towns, etc? Could be balsa/xacto knife/glue, or plastic model parts.

Lego? There's a ton of cool stuff out there to get started, books etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

My sister loved quilling... making elaborate designs with curled paper.

Maybe art journaling? It's not comics exactly, but it involves drawing.
posted by christinetheslp at 1:08 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Modular/unit origami or kusudama. It can be repetitive but in an enjoyable way. I like Tomoko Fuse's books for this, but there is a lot to explore.
posted by darksong at 1:28 PM on December 9, 2017

Cross stitch. You don't *have* to sit at a desk/crafting table to do it, though that is helpful when you first get started to keep from slouching and wrecking your neck and back (it also means you can use a table stand which some people find better for their posture and wrists than holding a frame). You can get all kinds of patterns in pdf all over Etsy and websites and a zillion Facebook groups, you can learn all the basic techniques in about an hour of youtube videos OR books you can get at Michaels, which will also have all the supplies called for in a pattern.

My favorite starter patterns tend to be small holiday- or fandom-related pieces meant to be ornaments or small hangings. You can get one of those done in a few hours to a few days.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:08 PM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love decoupage and collage - there are lots of ways to be creative with both and tons of inspiration on Instagram.

I'll say, though, as a creative person I would cry all day long if my studio or workspace was in a closet. Is there a sunny window you can set up near instead?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:09 PM on December 9, 2017

Card making? Scrapbooking?

I enjoy dollhouses. It's mostly glue gunning so it's fine but the painting probably wouldn't work for you. However, I suspect I make dollhouses only to have a reason to buy teeny tiny little dollhouse miniature things on Etsy. Making those is hobby that does use paint but it's not the stinky venting kind of paint.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:25 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

What about branching out into a new medium? If you can draw, you've got (IMHO) the hardest part of painting down already. Watercolors don't seem quite as inviting as some of the other suggestions but you can definitely find less intense introductions. I think the looseness of the medium will feel very different from drawing comics. They take up relatively little space and no fumes. This book might be up your alley.
posted by yeahlikethat at 2:36 PM on December 9, 2017

Zentangle, if you want to branch out from drawing.

2nding polymer clay. Fast learning curve. Google "polymer clay vase".

Mosaic is also pretty easy and fun.
posted by bluesky78987 at 3:14 PM on December 9, 2017

Lino-cut print making? It uses a couple tools and, I think, non-toxic ink. There may be other kinds of etching or print making that work too.
posted by cranberrymonger at 3:43 PM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kumihimo braiding is one idea. Coloring (like in a coloring book) is pretty relaxing and there are loads of such books. Knot-Tyeing pretends to be practical but can be very decorative at scales from buttons to floor mats.
posted by janell at 3:55 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I took a printmaking class in college and now I make prints for cards sometimes, thus combining three recs above (printmaking, card making, letter writing). They’re all good desky activities, and if you’ve done drawing, the learning curve and initial outlay can be pretty minimal.

Bookbinding is another one that hits your requirements, as is scrapbooking. Baking, cooking, and canning are not really desk tasks but I find them centering and not insanely difficult for a beginner.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:57 PM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like collage. I have torn out and saved lots of images and I like to make cards or smaller collages for pins.
posted by theora55 at 3:58 PM on December 9, 2017

If you haven't checked out Pinterest, there's a world of ideas on that site.
posted by Enid Lareg at 4:17 PM on December 9, 2017

Metal embossing is so fun, beginner friendly and you can even re-use empty soda cans. There are special tools available for it but I have used old pens & dull pencils with great results.
Tips for embossing metal
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 4:43 PM on December 9, 2017

Cross-stitching is very easy for a beginner, and inexpensive to pick up. If you have a snarky sense of humor, Subversive Cross Stitch's deluxe kits have everything you need (except a small pair of sewing scissors). She also has a list of tutorials and how to's.
posted by radioamy at 6:16 PM on December 9, 2017

stained glass. Not too hard to learn and not crazy expensive to do smaller projects ... which fit nicely on a desk. Satisfying, and pretty even when you're clumsy at it ... You can make pretty suncatchers for everyone you know! Even a very first project looks lovely with the sun shining through it.

I can't recall how much ventilation you need for the soldering part but the class I took was in a dank basement so I think not that much.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:43 PM on December 9, 2017

I'm not sure if this will interest you if you're not into knitting, but crochet can be picked up easily. There are plenty of Youtube channels with tutorials - I taught myself to crochet using CrochetGuru's videos. Sometimes I crochet at a desk because I can keep a little notebook on it for my notes/row count. Supplies can be cheap since all you really need is yarn, a set of hooks, scissors, and darning needles. Stitch markers are super helpful, though.
posted by cp311 at 10:56 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bullet journal (optional: calligraphy, drawing, painting, glueing, washi tapes, cutting Dutch doors), coloring, Zen tangles, writing letters, photo albums, making jewelry, play dough
posted by meijusa at 11:56 PM on December 9, 2017

Pottery that doesn’t require a wheel or kiln.
posted by delight at 9:27 PM on December 14, 2017

Stamp carving. Goes great with any other paper-based crafts. I liked this book on the topic.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:40 AM on December 17, 2017

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