Challenge boredom with these off-the-wall craftsman hobbies sure to get your creativity rolling.

In a 2019 survey, only 32% of Americans listed arts and crafts as their hobby or interest, but we anticipate a spike for 2020. As we adhere to local social distancing and safe at home guidelines necessitated by the wildfire-like spread of COVID-19, we’re finding all kinds of ways to do more with less. 

Current events are forcing us out of our lightspeed lives, and our sanity depends on our willingness to try new things. According to Harvard Business Review, this is the best time for it, since creativity thrives when bound by constraints. Limitations get us thinking outside the box!

If you find yourself with an annoying amount of excess time on your hands, why not hop out of your comfort zone and challenge your creativity with a new, offbeat activity? 

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are nine unusual examples of craftsmanship to get you started.

Build Your Own Bee Hotel

Closeup of hobbyist's handmade bee hotel

Particularly if you have a garden, a bee hotel is sure to enrich the space around your home. Bee hotels are nesting places for solitary bees, who will quickly make a home out of the hotel and get to pollinating the surrounding area. Not only will your buzzy friends be safe and happy, but you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of building something long-lasting that’s both pretty and practical! 

It’s easier than you think—you simply need a wooden box filled with tubes. Keep the size small so it’s lightweight and doesn’t overflow with guests. If you’re missing some of the tools needed for this DIY bee hotel project, check out what’s available on Sparetoolz. 

 

Fashion a Sword

If you fancy yourself an amateur swordsmith (or if it’s never even occurred to you), why not try your hand at fashioning your very own weapon? Maybe you’re inspired by the Vikings, want to craft something related to your family’s heritage, or are an avid fan of medieval television shows. Whatever the reason, you can be sure that you’ll likely be the only person you know who is casually molding swords in the basement.

The process gets rather heated (literally), but it is possible for a beginner DIY sword maker. 

 

Make a Seed Art Masterpiece

Closeup of framed, handmade seed art representing ideas for craft hobbies

Also known as crop art, seed art is a different way of forming a masterpiece. As simple as creating pictures with dried seeds is, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of corn kernels, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and more to create beautiful mosaics! 

Another advantage of seed art is its versatility. You can create impressive murals or garden features, large and small. Larger-scale pieces will keep your hands busy for a long time, and the final picture will be a deeply satisfying reward.


Bone Carving 

Carving into animal bones and shells can produce attractive artwork and even delicate pieces of jewelry. To make statement pendants, use antlers, horns, jawbones, or skulls. For more dainty creations, opt for smaller bones or shells; just make sure they’re durable enough to stand up to carving.

You’ll need an etching knife, sandpaper, and engraving chisels to make your unique sketched design come to life.


Craft Knife Blades

Closeup of handmade knife with wood handle, laying on soft, grey fabric

Knives are used every day, both in the home and outdoors. Not only are they practical tools, but making them is a satisfying craft. Whether you need one for cooking or camping, a knife is an essential tool that also makes for an elegant gift.

With a little steel, wood, and patience, anyone can make their own knife. You’ll need some tools for this one! If your toolbox isn’t up for the challenge, download Sparetoolz for whatever your arsenal may be missing.


Try Tape Art

Art created from painted tape shows 2 pink boats on blue ocean waves

Image: Fabifa on bookastreetartist.com

No, we’re not talking about duct tape wallets. Intended to replace (or reduce) the wide-spread use of spray cans in the urban art scene, tape art was popularized in the 1960s. While it sounds a little crazy, duct and packing tape can take on a whole new meaning when used as an art form.

For a stunning stained glass effect, apply tape to glass or plastic and light it from behind. Tape art can create incredible 3D illusions on canvases, floors, and walls alike. 

Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at a tape sculpture. If you want to start with something a little more...two dimensional, take a look at just how much you can do with a roll of masking tape.


Carve Soap

Soap carving is believed to have Thai origins, and the number of shapes you can create with a simple bar of soap might shock you. Think handheld flowers, miniature animals, and more!

Start with a hand-sketched stencil, lay it on the soap, then use a pencil to carve around the outline gently. Use a sturdy plastic knife to remove the larger pieces of soap and a paperclip to scrape off the finer bits until your 3D picture is revealed. This is a fun and easy family activity!

Watch this video to see how it’s done.


Opt for Origami and Paper Filigree (Quilling)

Origami and paper art

Forming figurines and artwork out of paper is not only fun, but an excellent stress reliever. Escaping into the wonderful world of paper art makes it easy to forget the worries of a chaotic day. 

Origami

Origami shouldn’t be limited to your typical cranes and swans; there is a wide range of flowers, figurines, and decorative pieces waiting to be brought to life by this ancient Japanese art form. 

It doesn’t take much, either. Grab some sheets of colored paper, a craft knife, a pencil, and ruler, and you’re just a few folds away from unveiling a paper treasure.


Paper Filigree 

Also known as quilling, paper filigree is by no means a new hobby. It’s been around since at least the 15th century and involves fine twisting and curling of strips of paper. 

Create the basic shapes with a needlepoint tool, then glue them together to make custom greeting cards, framed artwork, or decorative designs. 


What about Whittling?

Taking woodwork to new heights, through whittling, you can carve intricate shapes out of raw wood with a knife. By repeatedly shaving layers and slivers from a piece of wood, you can make your own salad spoons, holiday decorations, and retro wooden animals that make the perfect hipster kid’s toy. 

Instead of buying, make items and memories at the same time!

Isn’t this the same as carving? Not quite. Carving comes in many forms and requires more tools, such as a chisel, gouge, and mallet.

There’s a whole world of offbeat hobbies just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. If you’ve wanted to reach beyond knitting and scrapbooking, we hope this article helped jumpstart your imagination. 

It can be a little tough to start a new hobby that requires tools. Why spend all that money when you don’t even know if you’ll like doing the thing?! Sparetoolz can help you explore new activities without breaking the bank.

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