giving and receiving

In our most recent episode, we chatted about how we have different levels of handmade gifts for the people in our lives. Proof of the depth of our bromance was presented in the form of making something in the form of a much beloved OOP fabric (me), and making a journal with the most favourite of papers (Car).

As I sit down to write today, I’ve just finished packing up my Cricut, making some vinyl decals for a friend. As crafters, we’ve all been asked at certain times for a making kind of favour, I’m sure. It struck me, as I weeded away on these decals, how just as we have a hierarchy of what we make as gifts and for whom, so to is there a hierarchy of people on the other end of the equation.

This particular friend, I’ve known since we were born, literally. Our mothers have been besties since forever – her mum is known in our house as “Nanny’s Car”. We’ve had sleepovers and youth group visits. We’ve been to each others bridal showers and weddings and baby showers. Our own eldest babies were born within 6 weeks of each other. We did playgroup together. We borrowed and loaned baby equipment. It’s almost a cousin-like friendship, having this person who has forty years of knowledge of you, who is there for the big things, and who you know you could call on in an instant, even if you don’t necessarily catch up all that often.

All that to say, if there was ever a person to whom “mates rates” would apply, it’s her.

I often forget that people in real life follow the hot mess of compulsive crafting that is my instagram (and it’s long suffering much ignored little sister, my Facebook page). So it’s a bit odd when I get a message with “hey random question but I just saw your stories and is it possible to make…”. Once I remember that a) my crafty socials are public and b) I have awesome friends who support my little account, I get over the shock and I’m all in.

I made the stickers she was after, and we chatted briefly about the next project she would like for me to do for her. despite her insisting on payment for the first round, I wouldn’t take a cent. It was bugger all in supplies, I told her. “There’s your time as well”. Pfft, like I’m going to charge a friend of this level for my time. We got to chatting on the weekend about this current sticker project, and she opened with “so we are clear – I’m paying you this time, don’t argue”. Don’t argue, she says, it’s like she knows me or something… And so I compromised. I quoted her a price. For the supplies only. She thinks she’s paying me a market rate, I’m not taking money in profit, everyone’s happy.

There’s the people who like and appreciate handmade items, and will offer to cover the cost of consumables, and maybe a token “profit”. For me, these projects can go either way, depending on where my creative mojo is leading me, what my to-do list looks like, and how much I like the person. It’s always a buzz to have someone recognise that you are a person who can do XYZ well enough they want some for themselves. But the really good friends, the ones who you would make for without a cent, they are the most often the ones who want to pay for supplies and time, or will do so without even discussing it. Last year, I taught an online class, and Car, like a crazy person, PAID FOR THE CLASS. Like girl, I would have told you all you wanted and given you a VIP lesson. She rolled her eyes at me and told me she wanted to support me so stop my whining. 12 months on, I remain deeply touched.

As a maker, we put a little bit of ourselves in every project, and I think it might be one of the truest expressions for friendship to have someone say “I see you, I value you, and I want you to know that”. It makes me think that favour-asking, done well, could be a love language all of its own.

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