What are your suggestions for fun and interesting hands-on, craft-type entertainment for a young married couple?
November 27, 2007 10:57 PM   Subscribe

What are your suggestions for fun and interesting hands-on, craft-type entertainment for a young married couple?

Instead of watching movies, DVDs or anything where we are just passive audience members, what would you recommend my wife and I do for fun in our free time?

I'm thinking of projects like making peculiar-scented candles, creating glow-in-the-dark tomatoes, building a working model of a guillotine and cutting vegetables with it - you know, stuff you do with your hands, stuff you learn from, stuff that has nothing to do with celebrities or advertising or applause.

If possible, please include links to instructions or examples with your suggestions, and if possible, experiences of your own.
posted by Lownotes to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any direct suggestions, but I recommend perusing the MAKE blog and instructables.
posted by spiderskull at 11:06 PM on November 27, 2007

Learn to build your own furniture? Do home repairs - paint your house handsomely, refinish a floor?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:11 PM on November 27, 2007

ReadyMade Magazine has a plethora of fun projects to do. They've even got all the projects up on their website.

Interestingly, though both my husband and I are "artsy-craftsy" sorts, we don't craft together. Sometimes he'll stamp buttons and I'll put the backs on 'em. But aside from that, we work mostly independently.
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 11:20 PM on November 27, 2007

Make a zine?

My boyfriend and I had some fun with making a website, but we're both web-geeky so it works.
posted by divabat at 11:20 PM on November 27, 2007

Well, I think everyone ought to try learning to knit! But that's just me. [If you do want to learn to knit, there are lots of good tutorials out there, especially the videos at knittinghelp.com.]

My favourite non-knitting crafty project was making marble magnets. I followed this tutorial from NotMartha and the magnets turned out great. They make good gifts too. I ended up getting a little obsessed and was always scoping out magazines for good tiny images--I ended up finding a great tiny picture of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine from The Apartment, and--my biggest coup--a set of tiny hand-drawn pictures of sushi.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:35 PM on November 27, 2007

I have 10 thumbs and am totally unartistic, but my wife who is very crafty and creative manages to drag me out occasionally to do this kind of thing together.

Some things we've done: take a bookbinding class (this was great); take chocolate-molding and chocolate truffle-making and dipping classes (results were great to eat); take a cartonnage class (didn't like that as much as the bookbinding); take a basic digital photography class (was very useful).

Things we have done at home recently include making a lightbox setup using instructions found here and making some wooden planter boxes. Any kind of big cooking project can be fun done in the right frame of mind.

Any kind of big puzzle can be fun to do, like the ones from Wrebbit. Or, building something from Ikea. Though these often end in bitter arguments around our house somehow.
posted by derMax at 12:06 AM on November 28, 2007

Not lightbox, studio box.
posted by derMax at 12:07 AM on November 28, 2007

I used to make felt with an ex-bf (wet-felting method). Mostly, felt scarves and hats. I made stuff like little toys, hair accessories and an ipod cover by myself (needle-felted those... I think needle-felting is a more solitary activity than wet-felting).
I think I was also making polymer clay jewelry with that same ex, at one point. (Or maybe I made them while he watched.) It's fun to make weird beads out of polymer clay.

I'm thinking of making a beanbag sofa with the present bf.
I'd also love to make interesting lamps, do claywork, a bed headboard. I'm making wallets, stuffed toys and maybe some journals for Christmas presents this year.
It's also nice to bake and cook together, and try new recipes together. I like recipes with some sort of historical significance (heh like war cake) or from other countries.
Someday I want to make a theremin and amplifier with the current bf.

Also, Craftster is a really good resource, I think... there are so many fun ideas there.

Maybe you could think upon what your current interests are, and make things related to those interests? I'm interested in making a theremin partly because I write and record music.. and I want to make stuffed toys so that my bf's stuffed bear can expand his social circle and find a bear-wife, which will then give us an excuse to throw a bear-wedding party, and make a cheesy bear-music-video to be shown at the wedding dinner.
I guess what you craft depends on what you're personally interested in, individually and as a couple. :)
posted by aielen at 12:39 AM on November 28, 2007

Oops. Uh, somehow the link for Craftster didn't come out right (or didn't come out...)

here's the link to Craftster.
posted by aielen at 12:40 AM on November 28, 2007

Make shelves. Everyone needs shelves.

If you're into wallpaper, wallpapering is an awesome 2-person project; it's very difficult with just one.
posted by amtho at 12:55 AM on November 28, 2007

Best answer: Grow a vegetable garden. It can be sort of absurdly absorbing: you'll find yourselves in heated debates over what worked well, what didn't, what to try next year. You can put as much research as you want behind it - or just pick up some Burpee seed packets and see what happens. It can get intensely interesting, even (especially?) if you have a mostly-black thumb (like me).

Get into old-school shade-tracing. It's easy, low-pressure, and there are probably all sorts of fun things you could do with it, if regular old profiles don't feel quirky enough - a formal portrait of the dog, or of an action figure, or of peculiar-looking fruit? They'd look great in fussy oval mats, Austen-style.

I've always wanted to turn one of these cheap structures into a lamp or lantern or anti-chandelier. You could take a few nights to build one or two - it's a fun duo project, you can each work on different sections and assemble them later - then another night to somehow make the paper lamp-appropriate, and then another to wire them. In fact, there are all kinds of interesting lamp- and lighting-related things to do - ideas abound online.

I think quilting is a completely underappreciated home art, but then again it's a pretty big commitment for even one project. Good for two, though.

Rug hooking! NOT the latch-hook tufty stuff you see put up in paint-by-numbers kits at the crafts store; it's a legitimate folk art with lots of possibilities. There's some truly heinous stuff out there, but I'm a big fan of the primitive style - flat planes, outlines, figures isolated on a sea of background color - an unexpected subject rendered with that aesthetic would be fun to make and put somewhere in the house.

We've been thinking about clock-building, too - a clock kit seems like a good, hands-on way to learn more about the mechanics and end up with a cool hey-I-built-that functional object. There are ones made of paper
and ones made of wood. They look like excellent winter-evening projects.

Seconding Readymade and Instructables as good sources for more project ideas.

(Now I want to go do all these things.)
posted by peachfuzz at 1:10 AM on November 28, 2007

Make a chess set. Your partner does one side. You do the other. Then battle!
posted by iamkimiam at 1:20 AM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Cross stitching is pretty easy to learn and you can start out with really small patterns. Makes for good gifts or little things to frame and put around your house.

Cooking is always good. Scrapbooking is also fun but harder to get into... it's easier if you have a giant collection of stuff already to choose from.

If you have a Joann's Fabrics store or a Michaels or an A. C. Moore near you, you should stop by... they often have classes. Last time I stopped at a crafts store they were advertising a cake decorating class. And the two of you could just walk through together and see if you get any ideas.
posted by purelibertine at 1:25 AM on November 28, 2007

Making baskets...
posted by Jahaza at 2:59 AM on November 28, 2007

Build a paper clock.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:07 AM on November 28, 2007

My girlfriend and I occasionally enjoy painting huge sheets of paper with lots of characters. We're not particularly meticulous, so it feels like doodling a Where's Waldo page with paintbrushes. It's the kind of thing that each of us would find fun if we were doing it by ourselves, but it also engenders discussion and interaction and stuff!
posted by ignignokt at 3:30 AM on November 28, 2007

make beer!
posted by unknowncommand at 5:10 AM on November 28, 2007

I'm the crafty one, he's the one I drag into things.

There is a series of jigsaw puzzles, called "Lost in a Maze" that are cut on the diagonal, each piece identically shaped, and you end up with a maze that must be solved. Early on in our marriage we found these to be quite different and fun. I only wish there were more (we have three).

If you are interested in small woodworking, you could make your own personalized puzzles.

Quilting can be incredibly rewarding to work on together. From picking a color pattern, to cutting the fabric, to hand sewing and then hand quilting, it is time consuming. But by the end of it, you'll have an heirloom to cherish for generations. Even if you do one of the ones based on a video game.

A few years ago I took a stained glass class at the local community college. There was a married couple in there that ended up doing a gigantic project for their interior bathroom window. It's an expensive hobby, but beautiful and the cost could be shared if you do it together.

All three of these things are really just things to do with your hands when you spend quiet time together as a couple, and talk about other things. Enjoy that time together!
posted by librarianamy at 5:12 AM on November 28, 2007

Needle felting is pretty fun-- and a great stress reliever to boot! Pretty much you stab loose wool with a barbed needle and form shapes-- these are some of the things I've made so far. Only trouble is it's kind of the thing you ought to keep your eyes on so you don't accidentally prick yourself. So as long as you don't mind that, it's super-fun.
posted by actionpact at 9:13 AM on November 28, 2007

I recommend baking. Make pies, bread, all kinds of things. Cooking in general is actually pretty awesome. I don't know if it's typical, but the arts center in a nearby city (nearby to me, I mean) has awesome stuff like glassblowing, moulding, and metal sculpture classes. At first when you take them, they can teach you technique, but once you get it down, people basically just take the class so they can use the equipment. You could also buy a project car and work on that, or fix your own cars. I also highly recommend building furniture. At first it will probably be shitty, but that's part of the fun, and you should love it anyway because you made it. You should also learn to play instruments and then have like jam sessions and stuff. If you're interested in electronic music, you can also use this as an excuse to build DIY Midi triggers (Google it).

These are mostly more along the lines of projects, but if you're like me and aren't terribly interested in sewing, knitting and their ilk, I recommend them.
posted by !Jim at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2007

With this kind of stuff, it really doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it together.
I recommend taking classes together. Check your local art musem, hobby shop, community college, or your free entertainment weekly for one-time classes or workshops. I can't tell where you're from, but if you live even close to a large-ish city there will be enough available to keep you busy for a while, and they're usually not too expensive (or sometimes even free)!
posted by tjvis at 2:01 PM on November 28, 2007

Hmmm we do home improvement together, which he is much more experienced at that I am-but we did learn to lay tile together and that was very satisfying and a nice useful skill, to boot. Now we have fun looking at creative tile mosaic and such, thinking of doing something cool with our next house.

We can together every summer-blueberry syrup, jams, and pickles. That's a big job, and it really helps to have someone join in (or else it's super boring, sitting there waiting for water to boil in a kitchen by yourself). We usually upick the produce together, too-fun and frugal.
posted by purenitrous at 10:11 PM on November 28, 2007

I know it's not crafty, but I will recommend that you explore quality board games--my wife and I just discovered them and we are having the time of our lives!

We tried to implement a weekly game night before but sort of dreaded the standard and tired pop-culture games we owned.

BUT, as I said there is a whole world of engaging, wonderful board games that we are just now discovering! I highly, highly recommend Ticket to Ride: Europe. This is a game that works well with two players, and up to 5 can play. It is moderately competitive but not confrontational, so most couples seem to like it quite a bit. I have yet to introduce anyone to this game and not have them enjoy it, as well as remark that it is a breath of fresh air.

After that, you might choose to explore a few other games (as we did), and a fantastic resource is www.boardgamegeek.com. There you can search for "couple's" or "gateway" games and read about them further.

Now, we want to play games multiple nights per week, and it really is much better than putting on a movie and not interacting for two hours.
posted by DarkoBeta at 3:01 PM on December 7, 2007

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