Doing It Yourself

Creating solutions to everyday problems can be extremely gratifying.  Making things yourself can also save money and reduce your environmental impact.  Here are some things to consider when thinking of doing it yourself:

Do you have the tools to complete your project?

Some projects require special tools, or a complement of common tools that may be out of reach for the urban Pagan apartment-dweller.  Are the tools’ usefulness transferable to other projects?  If the tools are particularly expensive or cumbersome, it might not be worth the cost to do-it-yourself.  Consider borrowing or renting tools if there are money or space constraints.  For really expensive tools, consider a place like TechShop for access to professional equipment.  Often, these working collectives offer educational programs that can enhance your skills, resulting in higher quality projects.

Are the materials more costly than purchasing the finished project?

In some cases, buying the materials can be more expensive than purchasing the finished product. It isn’t unusual to spend more at the fabric store than to simply buy your clothing off the rack. If your aim is to save money, sometimes it is cheaper to buy the finished item.

Is it labor intensive or does it require specialized skills?

Many Pagans fantasize about making their own ritual knife or sword. However, blade making is a skill that requires lots of practice to develop. If you’re committed to learning a highly technical skill, there is no reason why you couldn’t go for it – only you know your own time constraints.  Only you know if it is worth your time to master the skills required to make something yourself.  For instance, unless you’re a hardcore foodie, making your own tortillas is a labor-intensive undertaking that won’t give you the ROI that spending a few bucks at the local mercado would.

Is quality important?

In some cases, it will be really important that your finished project is of high quality. If you make a piece of furniture, it will need to bear the weight of a human adult reasonably well. If you are building your own greenhouse, you’ll want the windows to be well supported. If you make your own pottery, you’ll want to make sure your glazes are lead-free and safe for food.

Are aesthetics important to you?

In many situations, unless you’re willing to put in hours and hours of practice, your hand-made objects will look handmade. In other situations, function is more important than form. I have created some objects that are lamentably obvious in their hand-crafted appearance. If you prioritize the looks of an object, and you don’t have the skills under your belt, it might be better to just buy it.

Get Inspired

The Maker Faire is an amazing festival celebrating the convergence of art, engineering, sustainability and do-it-yourself spirit.  Most exhibitors are self-reliant, “grassroots innovators” who create everything from whimsical bicycles and other alternative forms of transportation, to artisanal foodies, to electronic gadgets to talented knitters, seamstresses and leather crafters.  It all started with Make magazine; a publication filled with hundreds of DIY projects.


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