This week I'm inspired to talk to you about the wonderful power of crafting, and how it has changed my life! During last weekend, I read a post with scientific proves that art creation can reduce the hormone cortisol (a stress-related hormone). That was a very interesting post, and as I said to my students/followers on social media, if you made arts & crafts once in your life, you already know that is really true….. when we start crafting, when we allow our mind to be free creating, experimenting, having fun sometimes even getting our hands dirty with paints, glue, clay…. Well.. that’s absolutely relaxing, this is so full of freedom, joy and yes, it can change a life….. and I can prove that to you with my life! I will try to be brief, but I feel like I have to share my journey with crafts with you, and how it helped me to overcome depression and find my real purpose in life!
Let’s start introducing myself! If you don’t know me yet, my name is Claudia Squio (actually my mom doesn’t like that I don’t use my middle name, so, let me tell you that my complete name is Claudia Regina Squio). Well, I was born in Brazil, and I moved to the US in 2012 because my husband (who was working for an American company for over 15 years) was invited to come here to work in the headquarters. At that time we had a very good life in Brazil, related family living no more than 8 h driving) a good home, good cars, we were living in a good city in the South of Brazil, in a State called “Santa Catarina” and we had wonderful beaches 30 minutes from our home. I would say we had a very good life, but…. I wasn’t completely happy. I wasn’t sure if the profession I had chosen was what I would like to do anymore…. kids were growing and leaving them in a pre-school to go to work was feeling really bad, always waiting for Friday to come….. wasn’t what I wanted for my life…. Not at all…. I knew I could be doing something else, but I didn’t know what… so, I started being really sad, I started to cry for no clear reason, I didn’t want to go out….. I remember that laying on my bed on the dark was the best place to be in….. for some time I didn’t want to see friends, I didn’t want to do anything….. except ….. crafting… and going to a Yoga class (when I had energy to get up and go!). I graduated in Food Engineering, and I have master degree and I also had another post-graduation course and I did a big part of the doctorate program (I quit when my son was born). For 12 years I worked on food companies, restaurants, schools and I was also a college teacher. I would say that until my daughter was born, I was pretty much ok, enjoying the jobs, not so much to complain. But after she was born, I started feeling different, something was missing…. Something was out of place, and I couldn’t figure out what, and that started driving me sad.
Ok, then, how is the craft involved on that? Here we go! First, let me tell you that I was always involved with crafts and music somehow in my life. Before I knew how to read, my friend and I were taking recorder lessons (which we graduate exactly 34 years ago). Then we also started playing piano. That was fun, but also a big challenge. I studied piano for so many years until I graduate in it, when I was already in college… below you can see pictures of my both music graduations… well, music was good time, it helped me relaxing, sometimes when I was sad, playing piano was a good time… but also, it required a lot of efforts…. My hands are small, also during winter times (as the homes are not warm in Brazil and in the south sometimes we get temperatures around 30 F…. so, I remember playing a little bit and going to the kitchen and trying to warm my hands on the wood stove….. ). Well, so, I have to say that after graduating I don’t play any of those instruments so much anymore…. my husband is always asking me to, but you know… I don’t feel like it, and that’s ok, I already forgiven me for this.
But, my music teacher, called D. Candinha, is an angel! More than being a music teacher she is also a great artist…. So, I took many classes with her for painting in cloth, crafts with painting clays, painting in glass….. oh, how fun all those classes…. as I’m writing here I can still feel the joy of those times! Some of the arts I made at that time are still in my mom’s house. All these happened before my 15 years old….that’s how I got introduced to arts & crafts! Oh, I also need to tell you that I learned from my mom, my grandma and my aunt how to knit and crochet…. So I did make a few scarves, hats and decoration on towels on that time.
Then, I went to college in Florianopolis, a wonderful island that has 42 beautiful beaches and it is the capital of the State, far around 300 miles from my home city Seara. You know, so many things to study, lots of calculus, biology, thermodynamic, physics, nutrition….and so on…… I barely had time to craft during those years. During that time, I was living with a friend called Monica, who loved cross-stitch…she made beautiful arts during that time, and sometimes we had time to make some crafts. The picture below you will see myself in our apartment, in front of a door that we made a collage on. Oh, that was lots of fun!
During college I met my husband Jederson (a Mechanical engineer), and we got married 20 year ago (2 years after we graduated). Then we started our lives together, building a family. We lived in 3 different cities before moving back to the first one we moved after college (Brusque), and then in 2005 I got pregnant. In the moment I confirmed that…. I felt a huge desire to start making some decorations, something for her! Oh, I didn’t know was “a girl” at that point. So, I went to a store, I bought everything I needed to cross-stitch! Oh, how wonderful times I had stitching… I made so many things… a decoration for her bedroom door, towels, pillows….. it was lots of fun. I took time off from my work about 2 weeks before she was born, and I spent every single minute stitching… that is a great memory!
Then, after she was born of course I didn’t have more time to stitch…. Life got busy again and now with a little princess to take care….. it took me about 2 years to get back to the needle and to make just “one” decoration for my son’s bedroom door….. (I know that’s sad! But it’s the reality). Around that time, I was already feeling bad…. sad…. tired….. unmotivated…. confused….very depressive…. With two small kids to take care, a job that I didn’t want to go…. and you know, a husband and a house to also take care! That was really too much…. Then, I started looking for some help, and I did some therapy, went to Yoga, where I started trying to find what was “wrong” with me. So, in the winter of 2010 we decided to leave the kids with grandma and grandpa and travel to Argentina for the weekend, only my husband and I. When we arrived at Grandma’s, it was very cold, and my sister-in-law was wearing a beautiful scarf that she said she made in 30 minutes, using a different yarn. So, we bought yarn and she showed me how to make it and we made 2 of them so I could use in the cold Argentina. There, I bought another scarf made with a different yarn that I loved so much! After coming back home, I looked for those yarns, bought a few, and without noticing I have made around 15 scarves and I was so happy, so relief of my sadness….. that the only thing I wanted to do was….. knitting… but of course, I still had to go to work, wait for Friday and all that stuff….
One day I could not wait more for the hard decision….. I couldn’t go to work that day because I was so sad, I cried the whole day. So, when my husband came home I had a very challenging conversation with him. I have tried prior to that, to tell him that I wasn’t happy at work, and he kept asking what I really wanted to do instead, and I never knew… so he never agreed with me quitting my job (without any clear decision)… so, my drama was just getting bigger. But at that particular day where I was so sad, and I knitted a little bit to feel better and try to recover from the dark time…. I felt that was the right time to quit my job. I remember as if it was today, I was crying a lot, and I said…. "I can’t handle it anymore…. I have to quit my job, it’s killing me, I don’t have energy to go to work, to take care of the kids"….. then he said… "Ok, but what you gonna do??" And in the middle of so many tears I said…."I WILL KNIT"! … He sad…"WHAT??" And I said, "I will knit until I find what else I should do"!!!.... And that was the BEST decision ever!! I’m so glad he understood (he wasn’t happy seeing me crying everyday…..).
Then, I quit my job (s) and started knitting……more and more…. I created some different pieces (actually I’m not patient to follow a pattern, so, I kind of start making something and if I like it, I will repeat!!). I made so many, that I had to find a place to sell them. So, I started going to craft shows to sell the beautiful hats and scarves I was making (see picture).
My husband helped me with pictures because he was the one that knew how to do that. Then, I opened one “online shop” in a Brazilian marketplace for handmade (similar to Etsy). I was only smiles…. Kids were more time at home, I love so much staying at home, so, I enjoyed everything….. things started to get better…. Until… the winter finished!! Yeap, no one else would be buying hats and scarves during summer right? So, what would I be doing??
In this exact point of our lives, my husband was invited to work here in US…. Oh boy….that was a very hard decision….. and living here for some time was always something he wanted to do (not me really, I wasn’t very happy thinking in leaving family). But I was so confused, then he said…. “let’s go, let’s do what I know I want to do….and maybe you will find what you want to do there!!" (that was God talking through him….absolutely!!). So, here we are…. a happy family living in US for about 8 years now, and as you know…. YES… I DID FIND MY WAY!
Before moving I decided to take some sewing classes, because I started getting interested in fabrics…. so, in about 2 months I made lots of pillows, Santa dolls, Christmas decoration….Christmas was coming, so, the majority of things I made was for Christmas and it was a pleasure to see all of them in my house this past weekend when decorating, they are definitely part of my healing process….. (see pictures)
In my second year I was taking some ESL classes in a church with people from around 20 other different countries! I learned a lot during those times, I made friends, I feel way better. Then, one day, we were talking about crafts and I invited a few friends to go to my house and I would teach them how to make some crafts …. and that was really fun, we made so many different things and we all tried to understand each other….sometimes there was people from 5 different countries in my kitchen table crafting. I would say that those classes inspired me to start teaching….. I was so happy, blessed, I felt that I could be doing that all day long……
Well, but still, I didn’t know what was my favorite craft because I wasn’t very good at sewing, although I enjoyed, I couldn’t sew straight, so my finishing wasn’t always good… and that was frustrating…. So, I was still looking for something else! Then, one day I saw a picture of a journal with a beautiful fabric design on the cover and when searching, I discovered that was just foam, fabric and glue! Fabric with no-sewing? ….Yes, yes, yes…. My mind started screaming….try it, try it! So, I did. It was difficult to find the right foam as the instruction was from Brazil, but I found a better substitute here and then I started making arts to glue to the cover of journals….. 1,2,3,4…(see picture) well, at this point you know me enough to guess that I made several…
It was so fun to make BUT the finishing wasn’t very good, I wasn’t happy just to glue a piece of art on top of the cover of a spiral journal …. How could I improve that?? And then…..the magic happened!!... I found one video where the lady was showing how to make a “reusable fabric planner cover” using guess what?? Cartonnage technique! WOW!! That was so incredible perfect for what I was looking for! I watched many times, I had to buy supplies, and I had to make and improve, and find my way, as I was using the foam piece of art as well…..and I did! I made my own version of the fabric journal cover with no-sewing using Cartonnage technique! How fun!! Well, I loved so much, I couldn’t stop making! Then my husband again…. "Well…. What do you gonna do with all those journals? They are beautiful, but, you know, you are spending too much money on that"….. Ok… so, I decided to open an “Etsy shop”, and I did!
Making the journal covers was so fun that I was curious what else I could make using the same supplies.. and then I made my first BOX! OMG…. I was hooked forever….. but also….. I was healed from all my sadness, my depression… my dark days were gone! I don’t remember crying for the same unknown reasons anymore (I have bad times sometimes, you know, life is real, specially when my hormones got crazy when with 37 years old I discovered that I was already in post-menopause – yes, premature and natural…but that is another story for another day….. )
Chances are that you know my life from that point right? Oh, no, one more detail. One day my husband came home suggesting me to go find a job in a food company, or in a store, maybe as a cashier or so, so, I could practice English and get involved with more people. I said…."no way"…. I agreed that I need more contact with English, but really, I loved crafting so much that I wasn’t happy to go back to the dark days…. So, I said….. what if I start teaching, and then start selling kits, and trying a craft business at least for some time? And as a great man he always is, he supported me on that as well! Of course he complains sometimes but, if wasn’t for his support nothing would be possible. I’m so thankful for sharing my life with him and our kids. We are living far away from our related family but we are blessed, we are very supportive to each other, and that makes the whole difference.
So, that’s how I started teaching Cartonnage in January of 2014, and that’s why I chose “ColorWay Arts” as my business name. Because after long years wearing “white” on the food companies, I got so involved with all kinds of colors in crafts….. then, the W is uppercase, because it means, a Color Way of Life… my color way of life.....
You are reading this today, from someone that listening to her inner child, her heart, through the power of crafts found the healing and the purpose of her life. That’s me, Claudia Squio, nice to meet you!
Here is my family today, and .....my journey is only beginning, and today I love Monday's as much as I love Fridays...(may be even more...because there is a full week to play and create)
1) I could’t finish without saying a HUGE thank you to all of you! Every single one of you that believe in my work, that allows me to teach, to show to you how fun Cartonnage is, every single one of you that are in this amazing journey with me from the very beginning is so important! You inspire me to make videos (even though my English still have problems…but I know you understand me, right? I will be better every day, but if I haven’t started, well, I would not be here today), create new projects, share the Joy of this amazing craft.
2) Thanks to GOD, for have leading me through my path, for showing me my way, for allowing me to follow my heart and find my purpose of life! Thanks, thanks, thanks....Amen!
3) If you are in “dark times” suffering from depression, stress.... MAKE SOME CRAFTS…any kind of crafts. If you want to do cartonnage, it will be an honor to help you in your journey. My free online course can be a great way to get started.
4) If you are already making cartonnage…. Thanks! ….and.. allow yourself to free your mind….try to not be “perfectionist”, try to let your mind just have fun. All projects that I design are very well projected for you don’t worry about measurements, you don't even need to cut straight and your finishing will still be great!! isn't that wonderful? …. Try to allow yourself to “eyeball” sometimes, and you will may see even more good benefits from the crafts…. Our brain needs to do things differently sometimes!
Thanks for reading!