Students become more involved with DIY projects

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With increasing online resources and personal inspiration, “do it yourself” projects have become a rising trend. Above, advertising junior Mary Rose Wiley created photo slide curtains which she featured on her DIY-inspired blog, “Adventureland Austin”.

Photo Credit: Maria Arrellaga | Daily Texan Staff

With the recent increasing popularity of websites like Pinterest, “do it yourself,” or “DIY,” projects have inspired many students to delve into their creative side. Through the use of both online resources and personal inspiration, DIY projects have become one of the biggest rising trends among artistic veterans and the wave of Pinterest-addicted newcomers alike.

Originally gaining traction in the ’70s as an offshoot of zine and punk subcultures, the resurgence of interest in DIY projects is largely because of the wide variety of resources available online. Sites such as Etsy, an online marketplace for vintage and handmade items, have encouraged aspiring artists to make a profit from their creations. Not only do these projects allow people to save money, they also encourage the development of new skills in the process of learning the odds and ends involved in these crafts.

According to a report by comScore, an online source of digital business analytics, Pinterest’s traffic grew 52 percent between January and February, beating out popular sites such as YouTube and Reddit, in its total percentage of referral traffic. Between blogs, social networking and online realtors targeted specifically toward handmade creations, getting involved in DIY culture has never been easier or more accessible.

Laura Miller, journalism freshman, uses Pinterest as a source of inspiration for discovering new recipes, planning parties and anything in-between. Because the website allows for users to visually compile things they like from various sites onto what is essentially a virtual scrapbook, Miller said that Pinterest helps keep many of her ideas organized.

“I have around 25 things ‘pinned’ to my DIY board, but have only had time to do a couple,” Miller said. “I painted a monogrammed canvas to put above my bed and created a homemade wave spray for my curly hair.”

However, DIY projects aren’t limited exclusively to websites like Pinterest. Mary Rose Wiley, advertising junior, runs a DIY-inspired blog titled “Adventureland Austin.” Started in October 2011, Wiley’s blog serves as a creative outlet amidst the stress of her school and work life — essentially, a balance between inspiration, motivation and obligation.

“I’ll get an idea for a project in my head and I cannot sleep until I’ve at least attempted it,” Wiley said. “Sometimes it’s a disaster, like last month when I tried to make a stamp using paint and a head of cabbage, but other times I’ll create something that I’m truly proud of.”

From photo slide curtains to vintage clothing inspired by the TV mini-series “Downton Abbey,” Wiley attributes many of her projects to inspiration she finds in her day-to-day life — from wall art created out of bottle caps collected from her job at Central Market to design blogs she follows online, such as “Design Sponge.”

Having grown up helping her dad with various projects around the house and spending countless hours watching HGTV, creating her own blog was a natural step in the progression of her creative evolution.

“I can also definitely attribute a lot of my creativity to being raised in Austin,” Wiley said. “With such an active artistic community, I’ve been surrounded by cool vintage stores, art festivals and art classes my entire life.”

As some of her favorite projects involve sewing and restyling vintage fashion pieces, Wiley hopes to eventually sell clothes online.

On a university level, organizations like Strings ’N Things allow students to express their creativity through means of craft-making. Founded in fall 2011 by chemical engineering sophomore Ashley Ross, the organization acts as a platform to connect both longtime fans of crafts to beginners looking for a place to start.

“There are so many things you can make with yarn alone,” Ross said. “Cross-stitching is extremely versatile. If you can draw a picture of something, you can cross-stitch it.”

However, one of the main goals of Strings ’N Things is to provide a sense of community among its members, with each member working on a project idea and everyone else supporting each other as they progress.

“We shared a love for knitting, which gradually grew to encompass crocheting, sewing and cross-stitching,” Ross said. “Sharing your work with someone else is indescribable and we really just wanted to create a group in which people could share their creativity.”