PROFILE DIARIES: Crafter, May Flaum

May Flaum has been crafting since she was a child. However, when she went to college, she studied the travel industry. After 9/11 happened, she was unfortunately out of a job and her internships were no more. She thusly rekindled her love for crafting when she got her first “crafty” job managing a crafts store and teaching classes. “Before Facebook and Twitter, in person events were the one and only route, as well as blogging, message boards — people wanting to share knowledge and learn from each other,” says Flaum.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Flaum could only do so much as to host Facebook Live Events. She especially does Facebook Live Events because she is a Brother Crafts Ambassador. To her, being approached by Brother USA was a blessing because she has been using their products for so long (e.g. their famous sewing machine.) In addition to Facebook Lives, she also thinks of features for their site, produces YouTube videos, and videos and tutorials that go onto the Brother USA Website.

Crafting has become more than just a hobby for most during the pandemic. With that being said, her advice to young DIYers, especially those who are selling their hobbies on sites like Etsy is to “just go for it.” Flaum also emphasizes coming back and revisiting the idea of selling your hand-crafted pieces, as well as lifting others up and finding someone to compliment. “It only takes a second! You never know who might need it!” says Flaum.

Her background in the traveling industry has actually helped her plan out travel events. She has absolutely no regrets because the logistics of her education have helped her a great deal. “It’s never wasted,” she says.

5 Crafting Must-Haves for 2021

By May Flaum, Brother Crafts Ambassador

  1. A Designated ‘Create Space’

Whether you’re a crafter, sewer, or embroiderer, it always helps to have your own space meant for creating. This space is where you can keep your machines, embellishments, fabric, vinyl, glue, etc. That way, when you’re on to your next project, you will have everything you need organized and ready to get to the fun part- the making! This doesn’t need to be a large space or even permanent spot – it could be a small desk with drawers and space to keep your supplies or even a portable storage system so you always have your creative supplies with you and organized – wherever you create. It makes creating a little escape into your own craft world easy.

  1. SVG Files

In 2021, crafting meets technology with the use of SVG Files – or Scalable Vector Graphics. These files give crafters the ability to easily incorporate their favorite designs in an array of projects. Some machines even come with built in designs making projects possible as soon as you turn on the machine. Whether you are creating your own graphics, utilizing free SVG files, purchasing from digital shops, like Etsy, or using the files that come standard in your machine, SVG files make all sorts of crafting from sewing to scrapbooking fun!

  1. Craft Vinyl

My go-to for creating decals, custom apparel, stencils, and more is craft vinyl. The possibilities are endless with vinyl from stickers to iron-on. Just cut your craft vinyl from your desired (SVG or other) design and transfer it onto your desired project. Craft vinyl comes in a variety of finishes glossy, glitter, flocked, patterned, pearlized and so much more. Easy to cut, weed, and apply it adds a lot to customize and craft a wide variety of projects.

  1. An Electronic Cutting Machine

An electronic cutting machine is a must-have for any crafter in 2021. As mentioned above, having access to digital designs is a gamechanger and an electronic cutting machine, like the Brother ScanNCut DX, will become your go-to for everything from birthday cards to ornaments, pillowcases, and gift bags. For example, the ScanNCut machine comes with built-in designs, including holiday patterns and letter fonts so you can quickly create and edit on the touchscreen display. Creating with craft vinyl and importing SVG files only takes moments as well – expanding your creative possibilities and making more possible at a fraction of the time to hand-cut.

  1. Embellishments

For any kind of crafting, it’s always a good idea to keep ribbon, buttons, glitter, and other accessories of your choosing on hand to spruce up your projects. From scrapbooking to picture frames, a finishing touch can go a long way.  Look for items that are in colors that you create with often, and don’t be afraid to mix and match to create the perfect finishing touches to your handmade creation.  

*Featured Image courtesy of May Flaum.

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: You’re responsible for finding inspiration

“An ambitious writer looking for her next adventure,” I type into that big white textbox. I figure I might as well put some aspect of my personality, yet also something clever, into my application for Au Pair Paris. Don’t ask me to speak to you in French. It’s very minimal. In fact, I never took French in my middle school, high school, or undergraduate careers. I was convinced at the ripe age of twelve that I’d be richer if I knew Spanish — right and wrong. Given that in thirty years from now, minorities will become the majority, my near-fluent Spanish hasn’t lasted my transferring to a Rhode Island university.

It’s hard learning anyone’s language, really. But learning somebody’s background/backstory? Why they buy so much coffee? Why they drink so much? Why they’re so impatient? Those are things linguistics can’t teach you.

No, I am no longer considering being an au pair. No, I haven’t been writing as much with the exception of graduate school papers. It seems like I can never catch a break, yet it always feels like I have to write. It’s a little ironic considering I have a book to be published by January 2021. I’ve only ever published fiction once, and that was in And So Yeah magazine. And that’s the thing about magazine publishing — it’s fast-paced and people want new and novel ideas (no pun intended.)

This may or not be a struggle for me next semester as I am writing for Boston Globe Magazine next semester for a class — just a life update. Although, through various internships, I’ve learned how to pitch successfully. It’s harder to get out there than in usual circumstances (i.e. before COVID-19 started and btw there’s going to be a lockdown in Rhode Island starting Sunday, December 20th.) I remember going to artists’ shops in Newport over the Summer two years ago and to Cape Cod last year. I can’t do that until further notice.

But on the topic of writing, writer’s block has hit me harder than ever during the pandemic, and I’ve been struggling to write this book. Thank God I learned the word “curation” in college Aesthetics class (spoiler alert.) But what I’ve learned in terms of regaining that special “spark” is that inspiration isn’t something that you, if I may be so bold, “poop out.” Yes, I just said that. You have to find inspiration. That’s why I walk 1-2 miles every morning averaging at 3,000 steps (not that I’m obsessively checking my health app or anything 😅) I bought hot pink roses the other day at Stop&Shop, so yes, inspiration can cost $8.99 or more.

But with a vase full of roses, you do have to take of them, like you would do unto yourself.

With that being said, the other aspect of it is, and this is where I get real, here — you have to be sober and awake while doing it. You’re not going to get anything out of a bottle of wine. I used to say, “that’s where I get some of my best work!” No. You have a brain, so use it. You rely on yourself and you are responsible for getting that inspiration. Sometimes that does mean waking up at 4:00 in the morning, just to get some words down on paper. Ernest Hemingway would write every morning at 5 a.m. Ernest Hemingway was infamously not a sober individual, but he wrote some of the best essays, short stories, and novels in the history of literature. But nonetheless, you won’t get anything done if you’re drunk and/or tired.

There’s also nothing wrong with getting inspiration out of personal experience. Again, everyone has a story — something linguistics can’t teach you. There’s no shame in being vulnerable with your audience. I remember when I was first being published with the Odyssey Online, I was terrified, petrified, at best. But to be an artist takes not only curiosity but courage to proclaim your truth.

Beware the Sides of March | I’ve Seen Both Sides Now

There is no doubt this month pounced its way in like a lion with the coronavirus happy whoreshit, and ended today, March 31st, with the death of Tomie dePaola, famous Strega Nona writer. Remember those books we read as preschoolers or kindergarteners? We were too young to even remotely understand the ideas, let alone words, like “pandemic” or “death.” These words didn’t make sense to me until my grandmother’s death in fifth grade, and when the Swine Flu pandemic began in Mexico in sixth grade.

I remember, in sixth grade, some of the first things that were ever spewed out of the mouths of “authority” at my middle school were “this year’s theme is survival.” Little did I know we were going through a recession, as we are right now, but we were sixth graders just trying to navigate middle school — the worst years of our lives, or at least mine.

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I saw a picture of an otter recently, and it reminded me of how otters sleep while holding hands so they don’t drift apart. Random animal fact, I know. But it should make you smile, nonetheless. But I remember even the simplest of sixth grade days, I had a fuzzy backpack, and I convinced myself I was both bad at math and friends, which made me relate to an American Idol contestant who sang “Barracuda” for an audition. Her name, I forget at this point in time. But one thing I still remember is how she used singing at a mode for survival. This was the year that Adam Lambert lost to Kris Allen. These were simpler times.

However, another thing I was doing, other than watching American Idol, was creating my own stories. My favorite subject, though everyone else hated it, was English. I remember coming home after school and wanting to read something like P.S. Longer Letter Later, and I actually liked Tom Sawyer. I became fascinated with the idea of writing stories. I did this to block out the idea of me being bullied, which was, unfortunately, my reality.

Dealing with reality, nowadays, during this world-wide pandemic [that everyone is sick of talking about], is harder for some people. It makes us feel like we are out of control. But the fact of the matter is, we are more than what we think. Our souls overpower our fear(s). This time is certainly uncertain for a lot of people, if not everybody. According to a quote by Danielle Doby, “…in the uncertainty, you hold the power to create anything.” Shakespeare was living proof of this, which is one of the main reasons he remains as one of my literary idols. He wrote Romeo and Juliet out of the Black Death. Even Isaac Newton’s university closed down for two years, thus he had to retire to a country home where he developed calculus. I was in my senior art studio “class” via ZOOM, and although I had my aches and pains trying to get comfortable for a four-hour class, it was refreshing to see what people were creating. My anxiety has been through the roof recently because of this new transition towards online courses, but now that I’ve seen things through a positive lens and I’m actually getting stuff done in my office [my room — a room which I draw, read, and write in.]

In short, you can see March as “hell month,” or see that March isn’t so bad, after all. I’ve seen both sides of March, now. It can’t phase me any more than it used to do.

Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better

In sixth grade, I searched for books in my mom’s shelf to read because I was bored with the typical adolescent genre that everyone my age was reading. I came across a book titled Fit In: Stand Out, only to find out it was all about marketing. It wasn’t until I finished typing that sentence that this ostensible “fitting in” and “standing out” is all about how you market yourself. This Monday without any classes whatsoever has me watching Hairspray (Nicki Blonsky and Zac Efron version), and Tracy Turnblad earns her spot on the Corny Collins Show by absolutely working it at… I don’t even know if it’s a dance or a soiree, tbh. Either way, she was both Link Larkin (Zac Efron) and Corny Collins’ “lady’s choice” and earns a spot on the show.

I was having a sort of “soliloquy/monologue” after not getting into a dance, and after watching the Grammy’s. I was recalling Lady Gaga’s initial speech (the one where she was alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Alicia Keys, and J-Lo). She said, “they said I was weird. That my look, my choices, my sound, that wouldn’t work, but music told me not to listen to them.”

There was no doubt that I was called weird in those dark days of middle school. How do I know that? Because I heard most of it, like “b*tch, I can hear you, even when you’re supposedly ‘talking behind my back.’ TRY HARDER!!!” And booooy did people show how much they didn’t “approve” of me, too. I began to realize that I was letting people market me, but that’s because I wasn’t quite sure how to market myself. I tried to market myself as the girl who loved to sing and do theatre, only to be judged more. Fashion played a big role in my life, too, as a means of self-expression. Even today, I dress up even when I don’t have to, and if I don’t, I simply don’t feel like myself. 

You’re probably thinking, this girl is cynical AF. No. I am reflecting on and sharing my experience with you all so this makes sense.

To paraphrase what Lady Gaga said at the Grammy’s, art, no matter if it is sculpture, filmmaking, poetry, blogging, etc. taught me not to listen to the opinions of those who only aspire to be lemmings — afraid to be different. 

So, what I’m essentially saying is that standing out can be a great, beautiful, and courageous thing.

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“A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.”

― George R.R. Martin