Chillin’ in the Big Chill

Thanks to this week’s polar vortex, schools were closed and people in my area were advised to stay home unless they absolutely had to travel. You never have to tell me twice to hunker down in bad weather; my natural modus operandi in the winter is hibernation.

This has been a perfect opportunity to get caught up on some of my favorite YouTube channels. Here are my four top choices for those times when I just want to make a cup of tea, grab my knitting and relax.

When the world is too much with me, I prefer silence, so I find videos of people making things very soothing–okay, there’s music, but it isn’t distracting. I especially enjoy Creative Mom. She crafts fairy houses, lamps and other decorations from plastic soda bottles, old boxes, jars and other recycled and found objects. This appeals to my sense of thriftiness and my life-long love of crafts. In this segment she makes a small house lamp from cardboard.

Creative Mom uses recycled and found objects for whimsical craft projects.

Another favorite is Primitive Technology. A young man from Australia goes into the bush and builds things, beginning with his tools. He never speaks; the only sounds are birds, the wind and the noises made by his work. He wears a pair of black cargo shorts and that is it–no shirt, no shoes, no gloves. He started out building a mud hut, and quickly moved on to more elaborate creations: various shelters, a kiln for pottery, stone tools, a bow and arrows, a fire drill, weaving and a garden of native tubers. Just watching him work is so soothing, and it reminds me of the hours I spent in the woods as a kid, building little shelters and making tea parties from mud, sticks and leaves.

The mud hut with a tiled roof built by Primitive Technology.

Colette O’Neil speaks in her videos, but her Irish accent, soft voice and bubbling laugh are entrancing. Fourteen years ago, O’Neil purchased a dilapidated cottage and three acres of “poor” land in the west of Ireland. Over that time, she rehabilitated the house, improved the drainage of the land and planted thousands of trees and bushes creating what she came to call Bealtaine Cottage and Woodland Sanctuary.

O’Neil practices what she calls Goddess Permaculture–a form of agriculture based on Earth-centered, divine feminine spirituality. Her videos feature daily walks around her property, which update fans on various projects she undertakes, such as planting in her polytunnel, pruning back willow to maintain paths and provide wood for her fires or building potager beds for vegetables. She is always accompanied by her dog Jack, a rescued collie. O’Neill occasionally takes on craft projects, but I am most intrigued by the beautiful landscape she has cultivated and the wildlife it attracts.

Jack on a walk with his friend, Colette O’Neill of Bealtaine Cottage.

My last and favorite YouTube channel is The Lair of Voltaire. When I am in a true funk, no one can lift me out of it quite like Aurelio Voltaire.
A musician, animator and author, Voltaire’s channel features his albums–twelve in all–and a variety of videos. For many years, he has been releasing a monthly “noose” letter detailing his activities and where he will be performing, along with various other delights, such as The Future Rock
Star’s Handboo
k–a useful and entertaining guide intended for budding musicians, but applicable to artists and entrepreneurs as well–and my favorite: Gothic Homemaking.

In this web series, Voltaire chronicles his journey of turning his tiny, depressing, New York studio apartment into an elegantly creepy Gothic lair. He made ten, full-length, half-hour episodes, which focus on various aspects of the process, such as reclaiming the space from its status as a storage facility, lighting, decorating with vinyl wall decals, choosing furniture and upping the creepy factor with bones, birds and insects. He also makes shorter episodes called Gothic Homemaking Presents.

My favorite part of the videos–aside from the host–are the DIY and craft projects. Some of them are ludicrously complicated, such as the cosmic horror white noise machine, but others are more reasonable, like the cabinet drawer wall shrines or how to make Gothic picture frames. Definitely in my top ten is the DIY bat mobile.

If you are a connoisseur of creepy, give Gothic Homemaking a try.

So whether it’s raiding the recycle bin for craft materials, enjoying the outdoors in Australia or Ireland, or reveling in skulls and stuffed bats, check out these channels the next time you want to escape from the howling winter winds.

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