My Very First Crafternoon

The only reason why I was somehow lumped into the cool kids category in college was because Alessa (then Libongco) was my best friend. Because she was known to be the cool chick in campus, she knew everyone and everyone knew her, so I too became cool by association and whizzed past all the turmoils of the standard teenage insecurities because my BFF was the BOMB and being her sidekick, that made me like a half bomb, okay, maybe more like a watusi. BUT STILL. I was a mini-big deal in college!

Now in our 30s, I’m still getting the cool by association perks because Alessa has been creating such a big buzz in the Arts and Crafts industry. If you gave me a peso for every person who comes up to me mentioning Alessa’s crafternoon and her blog, okay, obviously I won’t be a millionaire—that’s just exaggerated! Who meets a million random people in a year?!?! Sino ako si PNOY?!!? Hehehe! Basta marami talagang fans si Alessa and as her original Robin to her Batman, I couldn’t be any prouder! Alessa is the real deal, always trying to reinvent herself, always hungry to learn and improve. There have been a lot of copycats out there, trying to ride along Alessa’s creativity—but like I always say to encourage her, the Lord rewards hard work and originality and I’m so glad people are giving her the credit that is due her 🙂
But here’s the thing. I’ve never attended a single crafternoon session yet. GASP. Yes, I’ve retweeted, reposted, mentioned, promoted her crafternoons several times—but I never could muster the confidence to actually sign up for a class. Sa totoo lang, nahihiya kasi ako. It’s one thing to like arts and crafts (as a spectator, a viewer, a fan) but to actually create pieces from scratch—that’s a different story. The creating part is where I struggle the most. I have all these great ideas and I’d like to think I have good taste—but executing it and coming up with a product, ay naku.

I don’t know why it took me so long but I decided to pull the “BFF card” and ask for special treatment from Alessa. I asked her if she would be willing to hold a private no-pressure-tayo-tayo lang naman class for me and just a few friends. And of course, she said YES! So I gathered a small group of friends and yesterday we had our very first Rubber Cut Crafternoon!!! Weeeee! Thanks to my equally creative friend Sheila Catilo, I have these awesome photos to share 🙂
Each of us received a personalized CRAFT KIT with a whole kaboodle of tools for our rubber cutting activity. My low EQ self took a little peek even before the class started—bad student! So Alessa had to lovingly scold me for “cheat peeking”.  When we finally got the go signal to open our kits—ooohs and aahhhs filled the room. Having all these tools laid out made me feel like a legit crafter! ETO NA!
Sam (a.k.a. the new Mrs. Paolo Valenciano) was my assigned seatmate for this session. Thanks Sam for not making fun of my palpak carving skills 🙂 Hehehe!
To officially start the session, Alessa let us introduce ourselves to the group (even if we were all friends anyway!hehehe!) and asked us to share our favorite craft. NATURALLY, I answered “My favorite craft would be SINGING” Sus, ako pa. Tanungin niyo pa yung asawa ko, it’s like a living musical here at home! (Aba, I see Patrick with an asim mukha face! How come?!?! You don’t like my singing?!?! But, but, but…I thought you married me for my bodacious body, angelic smile, and supernatural talents?!?It’s like I don’t know you anymore!)
Since majority of us were beginners with no real crafting backgrounds, Alessa reassured us that just like in any sport or hobby—the first few steps are difficult but once you find your groove it becomes a truly enjoyable experience. At this point I was self-doubting myself already but because of her pep talk I started to believe in the inner crafting goddess—“Sige na nga, sabi mo eh!” (blushing pakipot sabay hampas sa hangin) Hehehe! She also shared the importance of pouring out all our love and energy into each craft—to go all the way even if you make some mistakes. Alessa said, “There are crafts na pang-ETSY and some that are…PANGETsy. We always have to strive to make things beautiful, no matter how small!” I guess this quote rings true for LIFE in general. If you’re going to do something, might as well give it you’re all. 
Teacher Alessa gave us a technical rundown about the cutting, splicing, and carving tools needed. She also shared some cool trivia about the different rubber types used for making stamps. I won’t divulge too much so I don’t spoil it completely for you, especially if you intend to sign up for her rubber cut class soon. 
Alessa demonstrated the techniques to us and it looked completely do-able. She twisted her carver and scooped out the excess rubber bits like it was the easiest thing in the world. Then I picked up my cutter and tried to be all snazzy with my tools too—ooops, hindi pala siya madali! It takes skill and precision to “kit-kit” the rubber erasers. I guess Alessa has been doing this for years, it’s almost as easy as using chopsticks for her! But for a newbie, it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. Like my friend Ding said, this class will make you appreciate your friendly manang manicurista and how she’s able to take out your in-grown nails within seconds because that’s how it feels when you’re carving out your design!
But after a few minutes of kunot-noo focus just getting through the hurdle of your very first stamp, you soon find yourself dabbing it on the stamp pad and then onto a clean sheet of paper to reveal the first imprint of your fingers’ hard work. Ahhhh, it’s a crazy rush—a “Wow, I made this!” moment that no one else will understand. And that’s when the crafting addiction starts and you find yourself actually enjoying it 🙂 Of course, I was lucky to be surrounded by my girlfriends cheering me on and offering words of helped me accomplish my first, second and third stamp. When Sheila shot this, I was working on my 3rd stamp already so I was in a better mood already. Hahaha.
Alessa is a really patient teacher and was very thorough with her explanations. She checked up on each of our work and coached us ala Tim Gunn! Yessss naman!:) When I was starting to get frustrated with one little corner, she taught me a technique to simplify the process and I was back to carving merrily away. Dum-dee-da-dum-dee-da.

 Just seeing the work of my friends inspired me to carve and carve again. They came up with really cute designs–Sheila made a camera stamp and some robots, Sam made a stamp inspired by her wedding monogram, Bernice and Joann made some geometric prints, Kaia and Ding worked on some sweet stamps for their loved ones, etc. Since we were all comfortable with each other, we were giggling away while carving out our designs. Kwentuhan at Chikahan Crafternoon pala siya!:)

And did I mention, we had the most delicious snacks at PINO too!!! Tempura Oysters, Nori Cheese sticks, and Tacos! Yum Yum Yum. Crafting and Eating=Winning Combo! By the way, Happy 5th Anniversary to PINO RESTO and BAR! And Happy 3rd Anniversary to Burger Project 🙂
 The graduates (naks) with our CRAFT TEACHER Alessa Lanot: 
Gin, Donna, Sheila. Sam, Patty, Ding, Kaia, Bernice, Joann, and Trey 🙂
Thank you so much Alessa! I can’t wait for our next crafternoon session 🙂 🙂

Visit to check out the upcoming crafternoon schedules.

Photos by Sheila Catilo

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