Combine travel and creativity to make something from your trip
Travel and creativity make such a powerful team, they should have their own Netflix series. Travel helps you pay better attention, gets you out of ruts and generates ideas you’d never consider at home.
But at this time when we can’t travel, does that mean that your creativity has to suffer as well, locked down and quarantined? Not at all. In fact, this current pandemic actually offers you a chance to enhance both your travel and creative skills.
How? By giving you the chance to make something from your trip. There are many ways to do this, but here’s one to get you started. In this approach, your trip will be a small one, likely just around your neighborhood. But it will be purposeful. After all, even small trips can be made into quests. And your quest, in this case, is to find raw materials for a creative project you’ll do when you get back so that you make something from your trip, even a short one.
It may sound a bit like child’s play — because it is. But can’t we all use a bit more play during this confusing time?
Two ways to make something from your trip
Here’s what you can do.
Take a trip around your neighborhood (or venture out a bit further if you must to find a wide variety of plants and trees). But don’t just wander. Look. Make a scavenger hunt of objects that look as if they could be part of a creative project. What kind of project? Here are two I’ve tried, but feel free to use these as starting points for you to make something from your trip.
Make a sculpture
The first is purely whimsical. It will appeal to you crafty people and likely get some eye rolls from those of you who are more practical. It involves making small sculptures from found objects like pine cones, dried flowers, twigs, acorns or rocks.
Make a bottle opener
The second may be more appealing if you’re looking to make something from your trip that you can use. It involves taking found objects, not necessarily items from nature but anything you come across (most of my material came from items I discovered on walks or even ones lying around my garage), and turning them into a new twist on an old product. In this case, bottle openers.
Let’s look at examples of each. Next time, in Part 2, we’ll explore why these exercises can be helpful to you as a traveler.
Found object sculptures
For these, you basically need any materials you can find, a pair of clippers (for cutting branches and twigs or even pine cones in half) and some CA glue (super glue, preferably the thicker kind you can find at craft, hobby or home improvement stores) or hot glue. If you want to get more complex, as in cutting the bases of some of these figures, you’ll need a saw. I also found it helpful to have some sandpaper for smoothing up rough edges, a knife for carving some parts, and a drill for making holes.
Because I live in an area with lots of moss and lichen, it’s easy to use that as a covering over any base. You could even use jar lids as the stand and cover in bark, moss or dried grass. If you wanted to take this seriously as a hobby, you could purchase moss from a craft store, but the fun is limiting yourself, where possible, to only things you find.
Here are some examples:
Found object bottle openers
Why bottle openers? Because they’re easier to use for opening bottles than your teeth! But the real reason, for me, is that my in-laws and I have a long-running gift exchange. Whoever goes on a trip brings the other person the tackiest or coolest bottle opener they can find. Here’s just a photo of just a few of the ones I’ve given my in-laws. You may recall it from the article on how to find the right souvenir on a trip.
So if you can’t travel, why stop the fun? Make something of your trip by crafting your own. Using the same principles as above and usually with just a few tools (mostly a drill though on a few, I used a rasp and drum sander to shape the wood), I’ve made many just as a challenge to see how many different kinds of bottle openers I could design. They all work. Some just work a bit better than others. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Make something from your trip just for the fun of making
So there you have it. Absolutely pointless uses of time if you consider that you don’t really need any pine cone sculptures and that the $.69 metal bottle opener in your drawer works fine for getting a cap off. But that misses the point. You don’t always create for practical purposes. Nor do you travel just to get somewhere.
If you try something like one of these (and my hope is you’ll make up your own ideas for sculptures or bottle openers using found objects), you’ll discover that the process—the journey—is what matters. Take time, while you have more of it stuck at home, to look around your neighborhood, find interesting objects and then make something from your trip. Once you learn how to do it on short trips, you’ll realize the possibilities for collecting more exotic materials on longer trips. And then, there’s no end to what you might create.
Share your own or try some others
I would love to know if you try any of the above or even better, come up with your own ideas for making something from one of your trips. Share below or email me if you have photos.
And if the above ideas aren’t motivating you to practice your creativity, try some of these creative prompts Anna Brones has been providing all through this time of social distancing.
And stay tuned for next time when I give you several additional reasons why this little exercise to make something from your trip can have disproportionately greater benefits than you might think.
Now go take a walk. With a bag. And start collecting.
You’ve got a creative project to do.
These are awesome! I love both the pinecone people and the bottle openers (especially the square nail in the driftwood). Well done!
I could probably coax my 4-year old into this project, although I certainly couldn’t trust him with CA glue (he’d probably glue his fingers to his nose).
Thanks, Derek! You could do these with your son and just use white glue…and a lot of drying time. Or, honestly, choose the pine cones carefully and you can actually wedge the twigs into them for arms. Four-year-olds are less picky about anatomical correctness. 🙂