Knitting, hair styling and webcasting: The people practising creativity in isolation

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During lockdown, self-isolaters have been searching frantically for ways to occupy their time. For many, that search has led to the acquisition of a new skill or craft. Some of us, of course, have been knitting since we could manipulate a needle. But lots of other bored and anxious people have found that practising handicrafts or otherwise creating while stuck at home has helped them release stress – and make some lovely things. Sometimes the urge to craft can also be turned to help those struggling with the coronavirus. We’ve interviewed a few people who are spending their time in isolation stretching their creativity.

Tulula, 22, student in Bristol

I “flip” clothes I find at thrift shops. I already have a “no new clothes” rule for myself, so I only buy second-hand, but I just have so many clothes I never wear. And at the start of quarantine, I was sorting through them all and envisioning how I could make them into something trendy and cute. I had all this extra time and I wanted to procrastinate from my uni work, so as soon as I had a clothing idea I’d find old clothes and materials and set myself a little project.

Being creative is a good way of keeping yourself busy. Especially when you don’t have work or uni, it can give you a fun purpose to fill your days and have something to work towards completing.

Asher, 28, data analyst in Chicago

I’ve been making a mini web show where I interview friends about unusual things they own. One of the most interestingly personal items was a “birthday snake”, a stuffed snake with a birthday hat that a friend drapes around people’s necks on their birthday. I’ve been interested in the idea for a while and video chat matches the format perfectly. It’s also an excuse to connect with my friends who I don’t get to talk to often. After lockdown, I hope I get to keep doing it, but maybe it could become a live stage show or a podcast.

Adam, construction worker in Tonawanda, New York

I’ve started painting Dungeons and Dragons-style minifigures again. I started painting them for a short time years ago. My kids started getting restless at night, and I got very busy at work.

I find it enjoyable because the time spent on it yields a nifty little object when you finish a piece. It requires an amount of concentration and time kind of passes without thinking about much else. I also stopped because I wasn’t making progress, but I’ve got some tips and tricks off various Facebook pages, where I occasionally post a picture of a piece I’m very happy with. Otherwise, it’s mostly just for my own benefit.

Jon, 23, student in Surrey

I’ve been doing a few things – making a rug, drawing and woodworking. It’s helped to fill a lot of empty time. I feel fully focused on what I’m doing so it keeps my mind off other things. It’s also quite mindful, since it’s a physical thing. It’s very tactile. I’ll have finished a table by the end of the week, and I built a holder to put plants on.

Lacey, 38, stay-at-home mother in Spokane, Washington

My family have all decided to trust me enough with their hair. So far I’ve bleached and toned my daughter’s hair and given my husband a bomb fade and dyed it blue. It’s fun and I think I actually want to go to school to become a stylist now.

Stephanie, 56, jazz singer in Chicago

I feel like this lockdown was an equaliser for me. I’ve been alone in my apartment day after day feeling isolated and sad for over a year. Now almost everyone on Earth feels that way. I’ve been asked to do live streaming concerts (which give me a reason to practise playing the piano again – it’s so fun!) so I’m playing all these pop tunes I love but that I could rarely get the jazz guys to play. It’s given me the freedom to not be perfect, to do exactly what I want. I did one live “show” (a lot! three 40-minute sets) and people liked it so they asked me to do another.

Also I’ve made and donated over 300 masks – I’m logging a lot of hours on the sewing machine. I can’t wait to sew something else when life is safe again.

Claudia, 22, medical student in London

I’ve been sewing and selling masks to raise money for the NHS. I hadn’t really sewn before lockdown. It was something I wanted to try out but I didn’t have the opportunity because the sewing machine is at my parents’ home.

I think that it’s morale-boosting for NHS workers to see creativity during lockdown. It’s nice to know that people are supporting them, especially with the Thursday evening applause. There are a lot of people who think it’s all a bit redundant, because frontline workers don’t even have PPE. But I think that for an average individual who may not be able to contribute in a very impactful way, just the sentiment of support is enough.

Malin Hay

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