When deciding whether or not to make something yourself or buy it, there is a calculus that needs to be made: is the investment required to learn how to make it yourself and do it well (or at least not sucky) greater than the cost of simply buying it?
Depending on how elaborate you go with crafting, it may not feel like you are saving money at first. Hobbies like candle making, weaving, or mixing essential oils require up front costs to get the basic equipment, materials, and knowledge. This investment is not just money but also time, energy, and focus. However, once the initial investment is made there can be many returns. For example, essential oils tend to need a little to do a lot, and the basic equipment once bought will last years as long as it is cleaned and taken care of. Also, to refer to the previous blog post, I have also found you can buy some supplies like measuring cups and glass bottles at surplus or dollar stores.
One advantage of making it yourself means you know what is in it. Making your own candles, incense, and oils is very useful for pagans because we use a lot of them. If you or anyone in your family have allergies, lung issues, or chemical sensitivities, making your own can be a must without a reliable supplier.
Think of the crafts you already are interested in and know how to do. Then think of how you can make small changes for it to be a part of your pagan practice. For example, that scarf you knitted—could you change some of the colors in the pattern and use a different type of yarn for it to be an altar cloth? Could that clay pot you made be an offering bowl with a symbol scratched in it? Once you know the basic craft, making small changes in color, pattern, or material is relatively easy and can make a big difference in the finished product.
The act of making something can be an act of devotion in itself, even if it isn’t the fanciest item. Simply taking a moment to meditate before starting the work, or making a prayer, or telling the object as you make it what its intended purpose is will draw energy and guide it as you are making it. You can also use the details to tell the object its intended purpose and seal in the energy right from its inception.
Also be a realist of where your skill currently is and what you are willing to invest to improve it. If you decide to take up woodworking to carve a statue of Danu as your first project, you won’t save any money over buying it from a Pagan crafter. However, if you have done woodworking in the past, own some of the basic tools, and carving a statue would be an upgrade of your skills instead of a new one, it is a better investment. Then again, you can also see the time spent learning the craft as an act of devotion, but in that scenario the motivation isn’t saving money because to be frank you won’t.
Not all crafts have to be difficult though. A hot glue gun and ribbon can add a lot of embellishment, as can fabric paint pens. Many crafty touches or small projects require mostly time. Below are some suggestions for finding not only ideas but inexpensive materials.
Libraries are not just books anymore. Besides books, magazines, and digital resource on crafting and DIY projects, look at their events and see if they host any crafting classes or crafter meetings. Many local libraries have equipment that can be reserved, like sewing machines or 3D printers.
Beside your local library, check out other libraries in your county and nearby cities. There might be more goodies at the big city library, and if you live in a different county many library systems have ways of other residents to access that equipment as well.
Internet, You Tube, Blogs
There are plenty craft ideas that take more time than skill. Crafting blogs, you tube channels, and simple searched can yield plenty of results. With how visual many crafts are, you tube videos and blogs with good quality pictures are especially useful.
Craft and Yarn Stores
There are many craft kits available with all the supplies needed for a project. Especially check the clearance section at the end of a season as they are trying to clear it out. They will also often sell the basic version and the craft is finishing it—like wood shapes or porcelain figures that can be painted. Craft stores will often host free demos and project instructions. Yes, it is using materials they sell at the store so its to convince you to spend money, but use all the free resources they have. Many of the websites will list project ideas. Many have classes for a fee.
Yarn stores are focused on the fiber arts, but they often have knowledgeable staff and will also offer classes. They also might host periodic free events where people can get together to work on their current project and get pointers from other attendees or help working through a project issue.
Sign up for Rewards
It is an open secret that reward programs are used to gather and sell your information. But if you shop at a store frequently it is probably worth it. This also would be way to get discounts on classes and learn of upcoming sales.
Grow it Yourself
Remember that list of common household herbs that can be used? Those are also plants people frequently have in their garden. Even if you don’t have any ground to plant, you can always grow an herb pot on your balcony or on your window sill.
Be Aware of the Environment
It is always good to be conscious of the environment when making or selecting items. If you plan on destroying something or leaving it in nature be especially vigilant and use environmentally friendly material. Use biodegradable material when possible. For yarns, check the fiber—especially cheap yarns often are polyester blends. Also consider any dyes and paint used. If you paint an item you intend to leave outside, make sure it is an appropriate paint that won’t bleed off after the first rain.
Not everyone is a crafter. But those who have the interest and knack for it can make unique and pretty things for not a lot of money. Maybe having something a little quirky or not perfect on your altar is just what your gods want.