As a creative and marketing strategist, I work in a 2-dimensional world where words can easily be rewritten, and design can be undone and redone as many times as it takes to get it right.
Can I get a “command Z”?!
If you are a Mac person, you rely on this command to quickly undo what you just did and probably find this disaster saver creeping into your daily life when your task takes the wrong turn — like if only I could “command Z” my daughter’s arctic snow rabbit, so the cotton balls were glued to the center of the page.
Speaking of my daughter, when it comes to my children, “the apple” doesn’t fall far from the tree. They love their devices, apps, and games. My son is a Roblox and Minecraft devotee. But game time does not come easy; it needs to be earned. For every 20 points earned he gets one hour of game time, and when he has a great week at school, he may even get a surprise.
The first great week, the surprise was easy. My daughter spotted a Minecraft Sheep doll in Target the weekend prior, so I already had it when he gave us the happy news and was thrilled to receive his sheep. But it was not too long after when he informed me that the next time he gets a surprise, he would really like a Roblox Noob doll.
For those of you who are not familiar with Roblox or the Noob, roblox.wikia.com/wiki/Noob defines it as the earliest physical form of the ‘Noob.’ Noob (also commonly spelled as n00b, newb, or nub) is an internet slang used as an insult for a stupid, annoying, new or inexperienced player. It is a misspelling of “newb” (short for “newbie”), which means an inexperienced newcomer to a particular activity.
I am not sure why my son wants this, but like any good 21st-century parent and Bloom’s Chief Solutions Officer I went right to Google and did a search that turned up…nothing. Really? Nothing even close. In my work and with my family my job is to understand, strategize and solve challenges big and small. Knowing my son and how much this meant to him, I suggested we make one. Yes, I told him we would go to the store, pick out the fabric and actually make the doll he wants exactly the way he wants it.
Considering the things I sew are simple, all by hand and out of necessity like a ripped dress strap, I knew this was ambitious. But a promise is a promise! So on that next faithful Friday when he announced the end of a “very good” week, we went to the store and got the materials we needed.
Saturday afternoon we went to Hobby Lobby, picked out the yellow, green and blue fleece, chose black felt for the eyes and mouth, grabbed our stuffing and we were on our way.
Relying on an image from my phone — I diligently began the task of recreating this two-dimensional character in the real world. It took a few days, but I knew I had no choice, I had to get it right the first time or my son would have to wait even longer to get his coveted surprise. And if you are a parent you know how the repeated question “are we there yet” or “is it done yet” are a form of psychological warfare typically won by your children.
So I started with the head and face. Once that smile was in place we both knew we were on our way. It took a few nights after work, but I actually found myself looking forward to it. The fact that I would make my son happy felt good, but also I found myself taking pride in the fact that I was making this for him – by hand.
For a pro like my grandmother, whose Singer I hold so dear, creating this doll would have been a cinch. But I do not possess her skill. I do, however, think I inherited her desire to make the people she loved happy. The time she took to cook and sew what has become the essence of some of my fondest childhood memories. So if we are similar in this way, I can also see how she must have felt joy from the gift she could give, but also the care that went into every stitch and how much she must have enjoyed the creation as well as the end product.
In this case, I found the creation therapeutic and even enjoyed the fact that, as far as we know, this doll is unique. As an artist, I grew up knowing the importance of craftsmanship. These days I question the value we place on this. I think we all struggle with the balance of speed and quality: how things are “manufactured,” how much content is “churned,” and how this is a measure of success. But when I walked into the room and my children shrieked when I handed my son his very own Roblox Noob Doll, that was all the qualitative data I needed to quantify its value. And as silly as it may seem it made me feel proud.