Staying creative through the winter

For those of us who love warm sunny weather, winter can be a bit of a challenge creatively. I would love to be able to hibernate and wake up to a warm sunny spring. Since that’s not a realistic option, there are a variety of crafty ways to beat the winter blahs. Even though we’re all spending more time indoors, we can still draw inspiration from nature and find ways to bring the natural world into our homes.

Take time to observe the beauty of winter

Blue jay on snow-covered branchSlowing down and appreciating the subtle beauty winter offers can lead to creative inspiration. A good exercise is to look for contrasts in the winter landscape like a clear blue sky against bright white snow. I love birds and always enjoy seeing a cardinal or a blue jay in the winter. Their colorful feathers provide pops of color that really stand out, even on an overcast day.

Winter is a great time to explore nature with the eye of a photographer. Whether you have a fancy digital camera or a smartphone, winter provides tons of opportunities for interesting photos. A book I really like is Digital Photography Through the Year by Tom Ang.

After a heavy snowfall when the world is white, look for repeating patterns highlighted by snow. A good example is a chain link fence that gives a nice contrast between the the dark metal of the fence and the snow clinging to it. Frost on a window or icicles hanging from gutters provide nice contrasts against a bright blue sky. You can alter the perspective of your photograph by moving in closer to cut out any distractions in the background.

Get outside for forest bathing

Snow-covered trees with shadowsIf you’re feeling adventurous, bundle up and try forest bathing. In Japan many people practice something called forest bathing or shinrin-yokuShinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our senses.

Luckily you don’t need a forest to go forest bathing, you can do it anywhere – in a nearby park or in your garden. Check out the Sabatini Gallery’s Forest Bathing: A Walk in the Trees exhibit from last spring for a video and 5 simple steps to follow when you head out to your favorite woodland.

Creating through the season

When you do bundle up and venture outside, keep an eye out for interesting twigs, pinecones, berries and other natural materials. You can bring the outside in by making a wreath or garland with your finds. Beautiful Winter by Edle Catharina Norman has some great ideas for turning natural materials into decorations for your home.

light gray bright green and dark gray folded blanketsWinter is a great time to learn something new. If you’ve always wanted to try pottery but don’t have a kiln, air dry clay gives you a chance to try pottery with little expense. Pottery: 20 Mindful Makes to Reconnect Head, Heart & Hands by Lucy Davidson is a great introductory guide to working with clay. One of the projects Davidson designed uses lace pressed into wet clay to create an impression. You can use your gathered pine needles or pinecones instead of lace to make winter-themed patterns on your clay objects.

If you want to try out a craft without spending any money, the library has Arts & Crafts kits to check out. We provide instructions and all the materials you need to learn a new skill. With kits on everything from hand sewing to crochet to origami, there’s something for everyone.

With your library card, you can access the video classes on Creativebug from anywhere. The classes range in skill level from beginner to advanced and each one is taught by an expert in their field. I did a search for “winter” and found 21 courses including making a winter wreath and cooking up homemade marshmallows. My favorite is Arm Knitting: Make a Throw Blanket. Using just bulky yarn and your arms in place of knitting needles, you can quickly make a super cozy blanket.

Check out the book list below for more ideas on crafting through winter.

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Brea Black is the Art Librarian and Book Arts Curator in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. Her favorite thing is to share the wonderful world of artists' books with the community. She also leads the Arts & Crafts team and teaches workshops on book making and a variety of other crafty topics.