Friday, April 21, 2017

Celebrating the 4th Handmade Joy Exchange

In February I opened up an invitation to a Handmade Joy Exchange.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, snail mail, handmade, creativity, joy, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'd organized these exchanges in the past, three years running, but it had been a few years since the last one. With the state of current events, I thought the world could use a little more creativity, a little more joy and a little more love (ok, a LOT more of each) and decided to host another exchange.

By the time the invitation closed, I had 40 people signed up (more than the other three years put together!). They came from all over the world: sixteen US states and seven countries including Spain, France, Australia, Denmark, England, Greece and Algeria!

Seven of the 40 had participated in at least one Handmade Joy Exchange in the past. Four had joined me for all three of the previous exchanges.

This year with such a large group (and a nice, round, even number of participants) I decided that I would not send or receive a bit of Handmade Joy. My gift would be the exchange itself.

It was so exciting to see the photos arriving in my inbox and hear the joyful responses as people received their packages in the post.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Such a variety of different media.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

So many different types of crafts.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

So many different styles.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Different colors.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Different motifs.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Joy comes in so many different forms. No two people interpret the phrase "Handmade Joy" in quite the same way. Looking at these photos fills me with joy. I know that the world is a little bit brighter because of all this creativity, generosity and goodwill.

I really wish I could more fully delve into the story of each of these pieces of joy, but I can only share a glimpse here. Fortunately some of the Handmade Joy Exchangers have shared their experiences on their blogs and on Instagram (and some will be doing so soon, so check back for more links):

Cindy M

Janet O

Judy H

Karen LR

Karen W

Laura B

Sharon B

Sharon R

Simony S

Simone W

Sonia H

Stephanie B (also here, here and here)

Here's a huge thank you to each of the participants. It fills me with hope to know that complete strangers want to share their creativity and spread joy and love to people that they've never met. I hope that through this exchange some of you have made connections and friendships that will last into the future.

If you didn't participate but are wishing you had, how about taking the time to put together a surprise package for a friend you haven't talked to in a while? Even sending a handwritten note is a simple way to spread some joy and love (and it doesn't take a big time commitment or much money, either).

Finally, one of the participants of the exchange suggested that she'd like to share joy and love in a way that will make a more meaningful difference in someone's life. War, poverty, hunger, natural disasters, they're an ever-present reality. Easing them with creativity and love is a wonderful idea. I figured I'd do a little roundup of suggestions of charities and share that here, too.

After a little research I re-thought the idea. This post on Abby Glassenberg's While She Naps blog explains why. It's from a few years ago, but it completely makes sense (and take the time to watch the silly video to get the full picture). Donating money does more good than donating specific items. If you're looking for a charity, check out Charity Navigator. Still want to donate a handcrafted item? Work with a local organization and talk to them ahead of time to see what is most needed and will do the most good.

Wishing you joy!

Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry












credits:

Image 1 (left to right)
top: Lisa C, Gretchen P, Laura B; middle: Betsy H, Sedona R, Stephanie B; bottom: Dana B, Jennifer M, Anne-Flore M

Image 2 (left to right)
top: Simony S, Lee B, Danielle G; middle: Ida PB, Karen LR, Lucy A; bottom: Becca R, Heather S, Deb D
Image 3 (left to right)
top: Karen S, Eleni S, Deb D, Becca R; middle: Joan B (2), Cindy M; bottom: Kels O, Sedona R, Sharon R

Image 4 (left to right)
top: Simone W, Sharon B; middle: Gloria F, Bella B, Sonia H; bottom: Judy H, Michelle P, Ashlie B

Image 5 (left to right)
top: Janet O, Stephanie B, Sarah V; middle: Ishrat K, Karen W (2); bottom: Nichole W, Peggy H, Lori S

Image 6 (left to right)
top: Yeissen L, Karen LR, Kels O; middle: Besty H, Judy H, Anne-Flore M, Jennifer M (the tiny photo beneath the last photo in the middle row is a close-up from Simone W's creation); bottom: Deb D, Sarah V, Sonia H, Dana B

17 comments:

  1. How nice. Thanks Anne for organizing this event. I have made blankets for the local pet shelters in the past and they were greatly appreciated. My mom makes hats and donates them and I know there is the Knitted Knockers organization, Project Linus (blankets), Halos of Hope (hats for preemies). These are all yarn crafting but they are always looking for donations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendations, Dana. :)

      I'm so glad you participated in the exchange this year.

      Wishing you joy!!

      Delete
  2. Thanks, Anne, this was a wonderful experience, and it's so much fun to see the wide variety of JOY that was spread around the world!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! So glad you joined in this time around! :)

      Delete
  3. It's so much fun participating in this and it's exciting to finally see everyone's contribution and all the JOY that was spread around! Thank you for organizing this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you participated, Lisa! It is exciting and fun to see what everyone created! So much creativity and so much generosity. Truly wonderful!

      Delete
  4. I enjoyed putting my little treats together as well as receiving. Thank you for hosting and I will look forward to the next one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for joining in! I'm so happy to know you enjoyed spreading love and joy, Peggy! :)

      Delete
  5. This was a wonderful exchange, Anne, and I am so happy to have been a part of it. You are a kind and giving person to have put such a remarkable project together. Many, many thanks. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Judy! I'm so glad you participated. So much loveliness and generosity and love from each of you. It fills ME with joy! :)

      Delete
  6. Thank you Anne for all your hard work in putting this together. There are so many kind and generous people around the World. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Simone, for joining in this time around. I'm so glad you did! You're right, there are many kind and generous (and creative!!) people all over the world. It's nice to connect with some of them in this way!

      Delete
  7. So much talent illustrated in these photos. It takes a lot of time to organize an exchange like this. Nice job, Anne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nancy! It was a lot of work, but so, so worth it! Spreading joy, making connections... it's a small thing, but it's important, too.

      Delete
  8. Anne,
    Many, many, many thanks again for organizing the Exchange! I love it! It is such a good way to meet new people!!
    A big hug!!
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you joined in, again, Laura! I know you're so very busy, but it makes me happy to know that you set aside time for joy!! :)

      Delete
  9. This is lovely! I have a suggestion for how to share joy meaningfully with those in need. I enjoy creating quilts to contribute to groups who organize silent auctions to raise funds for non-profits. For example, our local Farm Bureau Women have an annual fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House. I traditionally send them a small quilted wallhanging with an agricultural theme. They auction it off at their dinner, along with many other contributions, and they use the money they raise to partner with the Ronald McDonald House for whatever is most needed.

    ReplyDelete