(by Drew Boswell)
Recently I came across a speech given by Adam Savage (of the tv show Myth Busters fame) at the Bay Area Maker Faire in 2014. In the speech he gives his 10 Commandments for Makers. Using his list as an inspiration, I present to you my own such list.
1. Make something that is different than what you do for a living. I have found that what makes creating and making so appealing to me is that it is a source of relaxation, comfort, resetting my mind, and a way to step out of the stress of my day-to-day work. So if you make cabinets for a living, don’t make cabinets to relax. Make something totally different. Make a garden, sew a shirt, tan some leather. Whatever.
2. Make different stuff to make better stuff – try something different. I know you have to invest in tools (sewing machine for sewing, anvil for blacksmithing, chisels for woodworking, etc.) but learning new skills in different areas will help you make even better stuff in your preferred area of “stuff making.”
3. Give something you have made to someone else (even your early stuff, your just starting out stuff, your just giving this a shot stuff). There is something special to giving your creations away, even if the other person doesn’t get it.
Another form of this commandment is helping someone with a skill that you have learned. Sew on button for someone, replace someone’s windshield wiper, glue the sole back onto their shoe, etc. Take something you have learned by making something, and help another person with this knowledge.
4. Let done be good enough. Do your best, but it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect. Give yourself a reasonable deadline, and when you are done, you are done. Walk way, let the paint dry. You are done. Resist the urge to go back and make it better – push publish. It is time for it to live in the world.
5. Get the good stuff. It is ok to invest in yourself. Don’t be greedy, you have mouths to feed but when you can, it is ok to buy the best (at the least buy the better).
6. If you totally mess something up (and you will), or can’t figure out how to make something work, just step back for a while. Take a walk, watch a movie, sleep on it. Then go back to it and many times the answer to how to fix it will come to you. Give your brain some time to think about it.
7. Invest in relationships with other people who make what you make. People who do what you do may come in all shapes and sizes, color, age, etc. but it will bring you so much joy to share your journey with them. Find another maker to encourage – the world is full of sand castle stompers, and too few sand castle builders. Probably because it takes heart and imagination to build and brainless aphantasia to destroy.
8. Keep your work area clean, your tools oiled and sharpened, and put away. There is a common adage, “a place for everything and everything in its’ place.” You take valuable time away from building and creating when you have to look for a tool that is out of place, or your tools need to be replaced (which adds expense) because a tool has been left out to weather and fall into disrepair.
9. Get rid of “widow maker” tools ASAP – my widow maker was a Ryobe table saw. These are the cheap beginner tools that are dangerous. Not only are they dangerous to your health, but they are also dangerous to you learning bad habits, or getting frustrated with it breaking, and your making comes to a standstill. I get it, when you are starting you don’t know how fully involved you want to be in any area (sewing, baking, leather working, blacksmithing, etc) so you go cheap to try it out.
Once you know you want to make some more stuff in a given area, get rid of the poorly made tools ASAP. But most crafting things can be done inexpensively, with fairly low-cost tools. Just make sure they are not cheaply made. Also, the really expensive well-made tools tend to hold their value. If you want to get out of a given area, sell your tools on E-Bay, if you invested in good stuff, there is a good chance you can get most of your money back (check out Lie-Nielsen tools for example). This also keeps your work area clear of the clutter from tools you don’t use or want any more.
*see https://drewboswell.com/knowledge-allows-you-to-live-a-simpler-life/ for more about Widow Maker in my shop.
10. Words to my younger self – the things you have made brought you joy. Keep making stuff.