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I love a good craft fair, no matter the time of year.

Plunk me down amidst row after row of booths full of handmade wares, and I’ll be a happy camper for an hour or 12. I’ll spend a fair amount of money on items, some to keep, most to give away. But really, what I go for is the inspiration.

Because everyone, no matter how much he or she protests, has a creative spark inside. They just need someone to light the pilot light.

Turning $3 store splatter guards into a pumpkin? “How adorable!”

Using flannel scraps to make Christmas trees for the mantle? “I could do that!”

Sewing a bag out of a chicken feed muslin sack and adding hardware? “All I’m missing is the feed sack and I bet I can find one of those easily.”

Now, whether I follow through or not, that remains to be seen. But I still go to look, to wander up and down the aisles with a mug of coffee in my hand and a mental checklist of things I can do when I go home. I guess you could call it my version of hunting.

There’s a change in brain activity when you focus on a different task than your usual routine. When I’m in the middle of making something I stop thinking about the deadlines for the paper and the other “have-tos.” For a time I’m just working with the materials and nothing else.

And when I finally surface, the deadlines and other things are still there. But now I’m better able to attack the work with a clear mind.

This search for creative outlets has led me from department to department in the local craft store. From painting to jewelry making, photography to wood burning, and now my latest attempt at working with clay, I’ve always sought out a way to learn new things. And thanks to Pinterest and YouTube, I can pretty much teach myself anything if I spend the time—and, of course, the money on supplies and tools. They really do sell home starter kits for nearly every craft you could imagine, many of which have found a home in my craft room.

My craft room is packed with tubs and shelves and drawers full of project materials, works in progress, and works yet to be started. Once, when I finally allowed The Fella to peek inside, he started in on me for all the space that my projects were taking up. I just calmly shut the door and reminded him of his workshop. My creative outlet usually involves a glue gun; his uses a nail gun.

Same thing, Honey.

I’ll likely never turn my creative outlets into moneymaking ventures. I don’t have the time or the patience to deal with the business side of that much creativity. So, never fear crafters—I’m not in competition with you. At most, all my projects will be gifted to understanding friends and family who won’t judge me if the project turns out a little wonky. Because, for me, it’s just the thrill of discovering a new skill, mastering a new art that keeps me wandering the craft show aisles and pondering what my next creative outlet might entail.

They sell home glass blowing kits, don’t they?

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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