Do you harbour hidden creativity; an inner van Gogh perhaps?
If so, arts and crafts may be just the ticket.
As we age, it’s easy to lose our childlike wonder with the world, but by flexing our creative muscles, we can tap back into the feeling.
Such immersive activities aren’t only enjoyable, but also offer up a host of other benefits, which we’ll explore shortly.
In this guide, we’ll explore arts and craft for adults and retirees, including how to get started.
Let’s dive in!
Arts and crafts is an umbrella term covering a breadth of creative pursuits.
While art is fairly self-explanatory, including mediums such as painting, drawing and charcoal, crafts can include anything from postcard making and pottery to knitting.
The maker movement, thanks in a large part to the circulation of ideas on the Internet, has become ever stronger in recent years, a trend which only looks set to continue.
Although arts and crafts are normally considered children’s activities, they’re actually age-independent and provide an important outlet for adults to unleash their creative expression.
Indeed, such pursuits are arguably even more important in later life, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Mirthy helps to organise art and craft social clubs for retirees, who benefit hugely from the interaction and stimulation they provide.
Arts and crafts provide a plethora of benefits for beginners and veterans alike. Let’s take a look:
Humans are inherently artistic. Give a child pens and paper and our natural drive to create is clear. Although the urge may diminish, especially as we invest in careers and families, adults are no different. Indeed, research shows that creativity and expression are vital hallmarks of emotional wellbeing.
In our hyper-specialised world where we can purchase anything we need, we’ve lost many skills that make us adaptable. The maker movement encourages using our hands in new and novel ways, fine-tuning problem-solving abilities and preserving mental fitness into later life.
Whilst the cognitive aspects of arts and crafts are now more recognised, there’s an inherent enjoyment in using our hands. For millennia, humans have made their own tools and by practising our maker skills, we reawaken atavistic instincts, getting us off our phones and back into the real world. This provides both a sense of pleasure as well as improved dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Undertaking complex projects is part of the appeal of arts and crafts, especially as you improve. Whereas beginners often start with easy designs, it’s possible to advance fairly quickly given experience and the right materials. Such a sense of progress is extremely rewarding.
Learning new skills and putting them to use in creating a tangible project and outcome produces a strong sense of accomplishment. Your creations also provide great talking points when friends and family are visiting.
Practising this hobby allows us to create unique and inspiring presents for our loved ones. Whether you produce artistic or practical pieces, it’s never been easier to create gifts for friends and family members. This degree of investment and personalisation in a bespoke present simply can’t be bought.
The recent explosion of the maker movement has not been a solitary affair. Rather, arts and craft enthusiasts are increasingly coming together in groups and classes to share ideas and collaborate. At Mirthy, we emphasise the importance of such connections in later life, with arts and crafts proving the perfect vehicle for making new friends over shared interests.
Unlike some hobbies, which require purchasing expensive equipment and memberships before starting, the initial outlay for arts and crafts is minimal, especially when using reclaimed or second-hand materials. Furthermore, most of the information you need to start creating is freely available and widely shared.
In a world of planned obsolescence, where companies seem to produce products with ever-shorter shelf lives, it’s an empowering feeling to pour your passion into a creation which lasts. For extra fun, you can even test your eco-credentials by challenging yourself to use only recycled materials.
You can either choose to make decorative pieces to adorn your walls or opt for more practical, utilitarian projects. While artistic creations are lovely to look at, the practical ones come in extra handy for everyday application, providing a real sense of satisfaction and joy every time you use them.
More than anything, arts and crafts are enjoyable activities. Many people, upon first trying their hand at making, quickly become hooked. Often they try a simple project at home, and before they know it, are scouring the Internet for ideas and joining social clubs to share their ideas.
It’s very common for makers to share their creations online, so a quick Google search often provides plenty of ideas.
Websites such as Pinterest are also full of inspiration, especially as they tend to be image-orientated.
At Mirthy, we hope to use our social groups as an added source of inspiration, so we’ve included some suggestions below to get you going!
If in doubt, any holiday is a good excuse to get stuck into a new project.
Halloween is obviously the time for carving pumpkins or perhaps putting a costume together for the grandkids.
Maybe you could even attempt Christmas wreath making or printing individualised Christmas cards?
Special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries are also great excuses for new designs, allowing you to personalise presents until your heart’s content.
If you still don’t know where to start, you can even buy arts and craft kits complete with instructions and all the necessary materials.
Luckily, we now live in an age where all the information we need is at our fingertips. If you have an idea but don’t know how to get going, someone has undoubtedly done it before.
Searching on YouTube will provide practical guides and walkthroughs.
However, if you prefer in-person instruction, there are often local classes available which offer taster sessions, including Mirthy’s own events.
Many of those getting started with arts and crafts might be unskilled at first. Indeed, they might not see themselves as practical people at all.
However, all the requisite abilities can easily be learned. Even if you’re not happy with your first attempts, they’ll certainly improve with practice.
The most important piece of advice is just to get stuck in. While research comes in handy, there’s no better way than learning by doing.
Sharing your creations and getting input from more experienced makers allows you to create a feedback loop to improve on future projects.
As for equipment, it really depends on what you’re making. However, here are the common tools required for most designs:
All of the equipment you need can generally be found in stationery shops or dedicated art and craft shops, which are ubiquitous in many towns and cities.
Failing that, there are many online stores offering materials for all of the weirdest and wonderful ideas!
Some makers, especially after experimenting with various arts and crafts techniques, are drawn to a particular area or speciality.
Perhaps you’re a dab hand with a paintbrush or a knitting needle ninja.
Practising any skill will improve your performance and speed and whereas you can always decorate your home and make presents for friends, there are only so many doilies you can give away.
If you feel you’ve reached a certain standard or output, you could consider creating an Etsy account and selling your creations online.
Websites like Not on the Highstreet provide the perfect forum to showcase personalised wares, and while most makers are in it for personal satisfaction rather than financial reward, selling online can provide some extra pocket money!
Classes are frequently hosted in community centres and libraries.
They might also take place in local craft shops or private printmakers.
Many of our Mirthy events are organised in retirement homes, allowing residents and members of the local community to congregate.
Alternatively, you may be an arts and crafts expert and wish to use your skills to help others in your community.
If that’s the case, reach out to us and we’ll see what we can do to support you in setting up a social group.
At Mirthy, we’re passionate about promoting health and wellbeing in later life.
And while we all know about the importance of exercise like the gym, yoga and pilates, other forms of wellbeing are also essential.
Arts and crafts serve not only as wonderful pastimes, but also hobbies that contribute to a balanced, healthy life.
So, why not get the creative juices flowing and give it a go?!