>> Carla Sinclair is editor-in-chief of CRAFT magazine.
Go With Your Flow
Flow is the mental state of operation
in which the person is fully immersed in
what he or she is doing, characterized by
a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and
success in the process of the activity.
When we first decided to devote this volume to
Play, I mentioned to the other CRAFT editors that,
in a way, you’re playing when you craft. I wasn’t
sure if they got what I meant, since I myself wasn’t
quite sure why I thought playing and crafting were
intertwined. Later, as I tried to define my thoughts,
I realized that it wasn’t the activities that were related
as much as the experience of getting lost in the
moment that both crafting and playing sometimes
We’ve all experienced it, that Zen-like ecstasy of
becoming one with what you’re doing when fully
engaged in an activity. All other thoughts and
worries, as well as a sense of time, vanish during
this elevated state. Athletes call it “in the zone,”
jazz musicians have called it “in the groove,” but
I like referring to it as “flow,” a term coined by
psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of
Finding Flow (Basic Books).
Csikszentmihalyi explains that a flow state happens when we become so focused on an activity
that, similar to a deep state of meditation, we block
out all other distractions and become completely
immersed in the task at hand. Hours seem to pass
both instantaneously and indefinitely, and afterward
we’re left with a deep sense of well-being.
I’ve tripped on flow from all kinds of activities,
losing myself while acting in a school play, weeding
the garden around my porch, practicing the piano,
competing in a tennis tournament, embroidering
a tea towel, even painting a rock to make a paperweight. In all these instances the concept of time
disappeared, and my mind — feeling strangely
electric and calm simultaneously — became one
with the activity.
Although flow isn’t partial to crafting and playing
— I have turned on the flow while reading a book,
editing an article, and driving long distances, for
example — Csikszentmihalyi rates the “active
leisures” of crafting and playing as activities that
most frequently produce a flow state. The trick to
finding flow is to choose a project — or game or
hobby — that is challenging enough to capture your
complete interest without being so difficult that you
want to prematurely throw in the towel.
We’ve all experienced
it, that Zen-like ecstasy
of becoming one with
what you’re doing.
Anyone hoping to get their flow on will have
countless opportunities with the dozens of projects
in these pages. You might find your flow while making,
or later playing with, the flashing LED hula hoop
(page 54), adorable Japanese “otedama” juggling
toys (page 50), personalized coloring book (page 48),
or thumb piano made from objects found around
the house (page 38).
But of course crafting itself offers flow whether
it’s playful or not, and so we also offer the usual
eclectic mix of projects (sew a T-shirt wedding
dress, stitch plushie monsters, build a kerosene
lantern chandelier, make solar-lit jewelry, and much
more) that will appeal to crafters of all skill levels.
“It is the full involvement of flow, rather than
happiness, that makes for excellence in life,” says
Csikszentmihalyi. So let the games — and the
crafting — flow! ×