Living in a global pandemic leaves you with little to do to keep yourself entertained. To help combat impending boredom, Prospect has launched a series in which our staff members recommend content and creative outlets to keep you occupied while you’re stuck in your home. This week, our writers and editors have been getting in touch with their artistic sides and sharing how they get their creative juices flowing, even when stuck inside. Here are the creative activities we recommend for you during quarantine.
Recommended by Prospect Writer Annabelle Duval ’23
If you want an artistic outlet in quarantine but don’t want to draw or paint, collaging is a great craft! To collage, you need a pair of scissors, some glue, paper to collage on (construction paper is best, but anything will do), and some old magazines or newspapers. You can cut out words, quotations, and pictures from the magazines and arrange them on your paper in patterns or in a jumble of cut-outs with overlapping edges. Gluing all your cut-outs onto one piece of paper can be very relaxing and almost meditative. I recommend playing some chill music and just having fun finding new pieces to add to your collage.
Coming up with a theme for your collage is a great way to start. You could cut out images and words that are all one color and do a series of small monochromatic collages. You could create an inspirational collage with your favorite sayings and role models. Or you could simply start with images that you love, such as nature, food, places you want to travel to when quarantine is over, or your favorite celebrity. If you’re missing friends or feeling grateful for family members, a personalized collage is a fun and creative way to show you care. You can cut out images of a friend and parts of magazines that remind you of them, whether it’s pictures of their favorite musician, funny things they always say, or images you think they would like. Another option is to look for pictures in your house, scraps of ribbon, old birthday cards, and other small mementos to arrange into a multimedia collage.
No matter what kind of collage you choose to create, they are a wonderful craft because you don’t have to be “talented” or especially creative to cut out parts of magazines. Collages can be messy and unstructured, and they give you the freedom to design and arrange whatever you can find. Happy collaging!
Recommended by Prospect Editor Lauren Fromkin ’23
The boredom associated with quarantine has definitely upped my screen time, and one of my new pastimes is going deep into my Instagram Explore page. One night, I was going through a particularly interesting thread of art and saw an ornately embroidered article of clothing. Intrigued, I delved into embroidery’s social media presence and found a few pieces that seemed approachable for a beginner. Some projects I considered were embroidering a jeans pocket, a t-shirt, and a pair of canvas sneakers. I eventually settled on upgrading an old pair of white Converse high tops that I hadn’t worn since middle school.
One of the aspects of embroidery that I found most alluring is that it doesn’t require expensive materials. All you need to embroider a pair of canvas sneakers is embroidery floss, which I already owned from my days of making friendship bracelets at summer camp, and embroidery needles, which I ordered from Amazon for less than $10. It’s also very easy to learn, and there are many instructive videos on YouTube about different types of stitches and different strategies to start and finish an embroidery project.
My favorite part of this process was choosing my embroidery design. I looked all over Instagram, TikTok, and brands such as Soludos to get inspiration from other people’s embroidery. After researching, I had a short list of designs to recreate, including lemon slices, a pineapple, a rose, and some succulents. I decided on the succulents, sketched out my design, and chose colors for my embroidery. My shoes are currently in progress, but I am cautiously optimistic that they will turn out well. This crafting process was a great way for me to entertain myself and feel like something has come out of this quarantine, even if it’s only an upgraded pair of sneakers.
Photo by Lauren Fromkin of The Daily Princetonian
Hammered Metal Adornments
Recommended by Prospect Editor Cammie Lee ’22
During winter break, I spent one of my nights watching YouTube videos of people hammering metal into bangles, rings, and hairpins until very early in the morning. It seemed like such a satisfying way to relieve anger and stress while creating something beautiful. Right before falling asleep, I made the impulsive decision to purchase a ball-peen hammer, a small metal bench block, and 10 gauge wire from Amazon with the sudden resolve that I too would try hammering metal. I never got around to making my hammered hairpins during winter break, but while in quarantine, I remembered that I had all the tools to create hammered metal trinkets and decided to give it a go.
My inspiration for the project was ceramic artist and minor metalsmith Sage Cortez from Hand + Fire. She has a few hairpins on her site that I used as models. I particularly liked one that was shaped like a woman’s body, in the typical “hourglass figure” sense. After cutting a generous length of wire, I shaped it into my desired form using my hands and a few tools I had handy. Ten gauge wire is obnoxiously stiff and difficult to work with, as the wire itself is very thick. The way the gauge system works is that thinner widths are assigned higher numbers, and as the wire increases in diameter the numbers decrease — 24 gauge wire would be fairly thin, while 10 gauge is quite thick. Satisfied with the shape of my wire, I took it to the metal bench block, where I used the flat side of my hammer to flatten out the piece a bit before adding a bit of texture using the rounded ball-peen side. Hammering sort of “freezes” the wire in place, making it difficult to alter its shape while in use.
I ended up creating three different designs, in varying sizes and shapes. Although my final products did not end up looking like the professional-grade hairpins in my model image, I still had a fun time creating my piece, and working on the project reminded me of the joy of stepping out of my comfort zone.
Photos by Cammie Lee of The Daily Princetonian.
Recommended by Prospect Writer Sreesha Ghosh ’23
Unlike my fellow Prospect writers, I, for one, have very little talent — and patience — for intricate arts and crafts projects. As far as I’m concerned, anything that requires dexterity and agility of the hands is far out of my reach, so I’ve got to get creative with the ways I stay creative. One of my favorite outlets would be the creation and curation of personal playlists on Spotify.
People make playlists all the time, and it requires almost no skill. All you need is a Spotify account or another music streaming service and some taste in music. Personally, I’ve taken to creating a number of themed playlists in quarantine, ranging from a compilation of every song I like with the term “falling” in its title — it’s actually ridiculous how many there are — to one compiling every song that’s ever made me feel the abstract sensation of “pink.” Basically, there’s no going wrong with how you curate your playlists — create them however you want to!
A good tip to start is to choose a theme. What mood, genre, event, or activity are you looking to build a playlist for? Feel free to get super detailed here — alternatively, feel free to be completely metaphysical. As long as you understand why you created this particular playlist, you’ll know what your theme entails. Get creative with the name of your playlist, and go even crazier with the cover artwork. Add tracks you think align thematically, and don’t be afraid to look for inspiration from other users and other playlists.
And when you’re done with one playlist, don’t hesitate to start another. After all, the beauty of playlists is that you’re not limited to just the one. And while the allure of curating multiple playlists can be an extremely time-consuming process, at least you always walk away from it with a ton of great new music and a deep sense of personal satisfaction.
Fabián Alexis/Wikimedia Commons
Recommended by Prospect Writer José Pablo Fernández García ’23
I’ve seen a lot of talk on social media in the past couple weeks under stay-at-home orders about all the hobbies everyone has started dedicating time to. Sourdough bread seems to have a permanent slot in my Twitter feed now, and themed photoshoots seem to be on the rise on TikTok, at least according to my For You page. While those activities are great — I’ve also been baking and working on my photography — they can pose an issue that’s complicated by stay-at-home orders: supplies. Many hobbies, especially arts and crafts, require specific supplies that you may not already have at home or that have become hard to acquire nowadays.
However, sketching, drawing, doodling, or whatever you want to call it shouldn’t necessarily pose that same issue. Dedicated artists might have very particular tastes concerning the supplies they use. In my case, I enjoy Moleskine notebooks and a Mitsubishi 9850 HB pencil with eraser, but that’s just because I’ve spent way too much time reading about paper and pencil quality. For me, the beauty of sketching is that it allows near-total freedom in terms of medium. You can sketch on printer paper, next to your class notes, on napkins, and even on yourself, using everything from pencils and pens to felt-tip markers and highlighters. The only limit is your imagination.
What’s particularly great about sketching nowadays is its relaxing nature. It can be meditative while distracting you from the great stressors of life. When every single day is filled with so much disheartening news that it can be difficult to find the uplifting news that’s still out there, something like sketching can provide some much-needed relief with relatively low effort.