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Creative Activities Like Baking and Knitting Boost Mental Well-Being

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Research has already shown us that making art is a good stress reliever, even if your skill level is more kindergartener than Picasso. Now a new study from the University of Otago in New Zealand suggests that these mood-boosting effects can be gained from even the most straightforward crafts. As the Independent reports, knitting, baking, crocheting, and jam-making were all found to produce an “upward spiral” effect that carried over to the following day.

For the study, published last month in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers from the university’s department of psychology asked 658 students to record their daily experiences and emotional states in a diary for 13 days. Following the days when subjects took part in something creative, they reported feelings of positive personal growth that psychology defines as “flourishing.” In addition to crafts and cooking, researchers also cited painting, sketching, writing, musical performance, and digital design as some common creative activities students completed.

These results shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s experienced the zen-like effects of knitting a scarf or crocheting a blanket. According to the Craft Yarn Council, stress relief and creative fulfillment are the top two reasons knitters and crocheters give for partaking in the hobbies. Baking has also been touted as a form of therapy, with some mental health clinics using time in the kitchen as a treatment for depression. Another benefit of improving your mood through creativity is that the results of your labors can be shared with others—so if you’re still in need of gifts for the holidays, we suggest heading to the craft store and reaping some of the benefits yourself.

[h/t Independent]

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Art
Artist Makes Colorful Prints From 1990s VHS Tapes

A collection of old VHS tapes offers endless crafting possibilities. You can use them to make bird houses, shelving units, or, if you’re London-based artist Dieter Ashton, screen prints from the physical tape itself.

As Co.Design reports, the recent London College of Communication graduate was originally intrigued by the art on the cover of old VHS and cassette tapes. He planned to digitally edit them as part of a new art project, but later realized that working with the ribbons of tape inside was much more interesting.

To make a print, Ashton unravels the film from cassettes and VHS tapes collected from his parents' home. He lets the strips fall randomly then presses them into tight, tangled arrangements with the screen. The piece is then brought to life with vibrant patterns and colors.

Ashton has started playing with ways to incorporate themes and motifs from the films he's repurposing into his artwork. If the movie behind one of his creations isn’t immediately obvious, you can always refer to its title. His pieces are named after movies like Backdraft, Under Siege, and that direct-to-video Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Passport to Paris.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Dieter Ashton

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photography
This Is What Flowers Look Like When Photographed With an X-Ray Machine
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Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Peruvian Daffodil” (1938)

Many plant photographers choose to showcase the vibrant colors and physical details of exotic flora. For his work with flowers, Dr. Dain L. Tasker took a more bare-bones approach. The radiologist’s ghostly floral images were recorded using only an X-ray machine, according to Hyperallergic.

Tasker snapped his pictures of botanical life while he was working at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Hospital in the 1930s. He had minimal experience photographing landscapes and portraits in his spare time, but it wasn’t until he saw an X-ray of an amaryllis, taken by a colleague, that he felt inspired to swap his camera for the medical tool. He took black-and-white radiographs of everything from roses and daffodils to eucalypti and holly berries. The otherworldly artwork was featured in magazines and art shows during Tasker’s lifetime.

Selections from Tasker's body of work have been seen around the world, including as part of the Floral Studies exhibition at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in San Diego in 2016. Prints of his work are also available for purchase from the Stinehour Wemyss Editions and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)

X-ray image of a rose.
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “A Rose” (1936)

All images courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery.

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