Crafting with Asthma
Last updated: July 2022
Not long after the pandemic started, I got bored of the limited activities I had access to inside of my apartment. I needed something new to do that would engage my mind and challenge my creativity. I remember as a young girl, I used to go up into my great aunt's attic and play with a beautiful dollhouse that she had there. I could spend hours up there, rearranging the furniture and playing with the dolls. So, I decided that making a dollhouse of my own could be a fun project to take on!
My new hobby
Being out of work and broke, I constructed my first dollhouse out of cardboard. I found a tutorial on YouTube and crafted away. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to have a new craft and something to occupy my mind and time. I spent hours working on that dollhouse. From the top-down, the inside out, I made everything! When that house was finished, I decided it was time to go for broke and buy a real wooden dollhouse. I had the good luck of finding a half-constructed wooden dollhouse on Facebook marketplace for $20. I was giddy on the drive to pick it up.
There are many, many things that go into creating a dollhouse. It really is similar to building a real house, just much smaller. There are lots of details that I never realized were involved in building, all the little finishes can be time-consuming and tedious. But I love it!
Crafting with asthma means navigating triggers
Would you be surprised to find that working on my dollhouse affects my asthma? Quite a lot actually, and there are certain construction techniques that I’ve had to find alternatives to and adjustments I’ve had to make so that I can safely construct my house.
There can be a lot of dust when building tiny furniture and adding details to the house. I have a tiny circular saw that I use to cut bigger pieces of wood, and I frequently use a Dremel tool to smooth out edges or carve out designs. Dust is definitely a trigger for my asthma. Thankfully, with the current state of things, masks are abundantly available. I keep a couple tucked away in my building supplies so that I can grab one when I start creating a lot of dust. At the end of a good sanding session, sometimes the outside of the mask is just covered in caked-on dust. Yuck! I could have been breathing all of that in, which would certainly have prompted an asthma attack.
But dust is not the only thing I have to worry about when working on my house. Building requires glue, paint, stain, and other things that can have unhealthy fumes. Since I don’t have an outdoor area where I can work on my projects, I’ve had to find alternatives to traditional paints and stains. Water-based products are much less irritating to my lungs, so I have been able to find some gel stains that are water-based which I use on the hardwood floors, or when staining furniture pieces. It has absolutely no smell at all. I can mix the stains to get the colors I want, and even thin it down with water if I want to do a light wash.
Thankfully there are a lot of low VOC paints available to choose from. I typically opt for acrylic paints and chalk paints, as they are inexpensive. There are endless color possibilities and they can also be mixed for custom colors.
There are also some glues that would be difficult for me to use, like rubber cement, but thankfully there is a wide variety of glues available that don’t have fumes. My favorites are wood glue, tacky glue, and hot glue!
There are benefits to making modifications
These may seem like trivial changes to someone who doesn’t have asthma, but for those of us who do, finding products that don’t irritate our lungs is incredibly important. My dollhouse is my happy place and I’m very thankful that there is such a variety of crafting tools and equipment that make it easy for me to build my tiny creations.
What kind of hobbies do you like? Are there any changes or modifications you have to make so that your activities don’t flare your asthma? Share with the community by clicking the button below!
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