As I stood outside painting white primer on my future closet shelves, I found myself wondering why we D.I.Y.
Some projects like knitting have an obvious answer. The act of knitting is enjoyable. I however did not particularly enjoy painting these shelves with primer. It didn’t make me miserable but it wasn’t the preferred way to spend my day (I would rather have been knitting). My dad didn’t especially enjoy cutting and sanding and working the slabs of wood into finished looking shelves. So why do we do it when we don’t get pleasure from the act of doing it?
It’s not like D.I.Y. saves money anymore. Materials aren’t cheap for most crafts. The boards my dad bought for my shelves cost more than finished shelves from Ikea that come with edging and paint on them already. If you add the value of your time into the equation, D.I.Y. becomes significantly more expensive. When you can buy something prefab cheaper than the materials to make it, it’s hard to argue that D.I.Y. is done to save money.
There are two major reasons why I was out there painting shelves this morning. The first one is quality. I know exactly how the shelves were made. I know what kind of primer was used. I know what kind of paint was used. I know what kind of wood my shelves are made of. It’s not a big mystery. It takes a bit of time to develop the skills to create higher quality D.I.Y. projects (hence why my dad is building the shelves and I’m just on paint duty) but once you have an understanding of your craft, what you make will be significantly better than anything you can buy. Your sewing will have better hems. Your knits will fit and drape better. You will know how materials behave and what the best ones to use for a particular project are. The problem with this is that I end up being more persnickety about quality. Once you master the skill set, D.I.Y. allows you to make higher quality things than you can buy.
The other major reason is customization. I’m not going to find a prefab shelf that fits exactly in my oddly shaped closet. I’m not going to find one that is the exact same green as my trim. To get unique customized stuff, you have to make it yourself. That’s one of the biggest draws to D.I.Y. for me. I can’t go buy garments that are custom fitted to my body but I definitely can make them myself. D.I.Y. allows me to have things that no one else has. It lets me create things that are exactly what I want and have in mind, things that aren’t available for purchase.
There also is another reason why we D.I.Y. that doesn’t really apply to me in this scenario but does apply to my dad. Love. He’s making the shelves with me because I asked him to and he loves me. There was a girl at my Uni Knit Night who never kept her knitting projects because she enjoyed that happy shiny feeling from giving them to her friends. There’s an extra specialness to a hand made gift that helps motivate me to D.I.Y.
Sometimes I D.I.Y. because I enjoy the process. Sometimes I do it because I want the finished item. Sometimes I do it for someone I love.
Why do you D.I.Y.? Do you ever do projects that you don’t really enjoy doing? Why do you do those projects?