Isolation Creations

               There is a Christmas wreath making workshop I went to, some years ago now, that I think about probably once a month. Run by a friend and along with three other friends we went in the hope of catching up with each other. We also thought we’d be drinking wine and would come away with something nice to hang on our front doors.  What we actually came away with was a return to our childhood. A reminder of a time when things were simpler and our minds were free to create.

Firstly, we were shown how to make the main structure of the wreath. Then suggestions were given as to which cuttings and branches would be best. Fir to begin with as it was sturdy, eucalyptus would be nice as it smells good, the small branches with red berries added decoration.

We eagerly set to work and promptly fell into a productive silence. At the time none of us acknowledged the silence just slowly and steadily got on with our projects.


We managed to find ourselves in a blissful state of flow. One that none of us had been in for years. We hadn’t ‘made’ anything for no other reason than pleasure for such a longtime. We’d forgotten the importance of play, creation, art and using our hands.  We each came away from that evening with gorgeous, fragrant wreaths and a profound sense of calm.

Fast forward to March 2020 and the need for that calm again was more prevalent than ever. The bombardment of suggestions on how we should occupy ourselves during lockdown was over powering. ‘Take time to slow down’, ‘Write a novel’, ‘Learn a language’, ‘Sort out your photo albums’. Too much choice. Too much pressure which led to too little sleep due to too much worry about those less fortunate.

Also too much confusion as to whether it’s  Covid – 19 as in Operation or Covid – 19 as in Oh Dear what a shitshow. An award winning film script was not about to arise from this high state of anxiety.


I needed to find a way back to that precious state of flow.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines “flow” as being “in the zone,” “totally absorbed by and enjoying the task at hand’. I’ve always known that flow can come from lots of different activities ~ cooking, gardening, putting makeup on. But art is seen as one of the classic activities due to the creator not being motivated by the end result rather the act itself.

I picked up a pair of scissors and started cutting up magazines. I didn’t know what it was going to be but I knew I wanted to slice through paper and then glue it onto more paper. I had the time, I didn’t have to justify my reasons for creating something solely for the sake of making and perhaps, most importantly, I didn’t have to show anyone. If it was shit it didn’t matter. In this instance ‘It’s the taking part that counts’ was actually true! {I’m sure it’s true in 99% of activities but is sometimes hard to believe when you’re last}

On my walks around my neighbourhood I had seen the rainbows proudly displayed in peoples windows.

‘Is it just children doing them, though?’ I asked friends, desperately wanting to get involved.


I made an enormous collage rainbow and pinned it to my front door. It’s dedicated to our estate cleaner, our postman and all the people risking their lives to bring me a Dylon Dye from Ebay. Slicing and sniping an array of colours whilst sitting on my balcony was bliss. The arranging of the gradation of those colours was a repetitive action that made my body feel soft and calm. The gluing and admiring of my work raised my endorphins and bought with it that elusive feeling of joy. Look, Mum! I done a rainbow!

A self portrait was produced for a quiz I’m a part of using collaging and my fine pencil skills. I built a flower from our ‘Who gives a crap’ toilet paper wrapping which now sits on our book shelf for no other reason that I wanted to make something out of the paper we have. I glued beautiful little shells I’ve collected, from beaches around the world, onto a small jewellery box. Then sat on the corner of my bed, on numerous afternoons, colouring in the sides with a Sharpie. The motion of the pen and the creation itself were all I was interested in.

Tiny Niece’s projects inspire me from her painting to her stickers to her mostly-done-by-her-mother peg dolls and tie dyed butterflies. One friend sent pictures of boats he’s made with his son out of sticks and intricate string knots. Another is making paint with her children from crushing flowers and fruit.

Don’t think you need a child though. In fact, ditch the child altogether and let your inner O’Keefe free.


While flicking through Instagram stories I saw a friend up North had been block painting with potatoes! Pure Primary school stuff! ‘It’s honestly so soothing. Something about doing repetitive patterns’ she said. I told her my next project was to papier mâiché something. She replied she’d papier mâichéd torn up magazine pieces onto some jars the other day for absolutely no reason.

But there are lots of reasons and the reasons are all good. In children creating art is for brain development, honing fine motor skills and expressing themselves. In adults it exercises the left side of the brain, can help you focus, relieve stress and anxiety and overcome sadness. Anyone stressed, anxious and a little sad at the moment?

I don’t know when I stopped creating art. I can’t draw and I can’t paint so perhaps I thought what’s the point. ‘Playing’ and ‘crafting’ can be seen as childish when you’re a teenager. Once other past times {ie boys/girls} take over it’s hard to get back to doodling for doodling’s sake.

If, like me, you’re one of the lucky ones who has time and space at the moment why not get creating something? Get yourself back in the flow. It’s better than a Netflix binge any day.


Now, If you’ll excuse me I’m off to build a Día de los Muertos inspired alter out of cardboard boxes and pâpier maiché.

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