I own it therefore I am...
"crafts is a huge deal. Some hoarders do follow through, but rarely do they. the problem with crafts is it creates a quick "good" feeling for a hoarder when they originally do and complete the craft. What tends to happen is eventually, they hoarder gets the mental good feeling by planning and buying the supplies, but no longer need to follow through with the actual act. They think about making a blanket for a niece and how great it will be and how much the family will love them for making the blanket. eventually, the hoarder feels good without ever making the blanket and then the supplies build up because they feel good every time they think about making instead of following through. hope that makes sense.
crafts are VERY dangerous for hoarders." --cluttercleaner, on A&E "Hoarders" forum (Matt Paxton of Clutter Cleaner)
Among the most obvious reasons, I love Matt and his wit! He is often a little more "real" when it comes to dealing with hoarders and their situations which wins him praise week after week from viewers. Often viewers are harshly critical of the "professionals" on the show because they believe that they coddle the hoarder too much.
The above quote is from the A&E forum. Matt is often a guest after a show airs. His responses are just as real and funny (in an endearing sort of way) on the forum as he is on the show. The question posed to him was regarding the ability of a hoarder to find so many creative uses or "crafting possibilities" in an item that others would throw away.
This particular issue, crafting, was a big thing around my home. My mother always owned several sewing machines, and enough various supplies to start her own Joann's store. I have to admit that I don't remember seeing my mom out buying mass quantities of any one craft supply--she didn't compulsively buy, per se. But I do remember watching her buy the same item over and over because she couldn't find the one she'd already purchased.
I also remember my mom starting a new craft regularly. As a kid, it's somewhat cool to have a crafty parent. My mom took classes and learned new types of crafts all the time. With each new craft, there was the requisite stock-up of necessary supplies. I remember learning to do silk-screen painting one year. It was really cool for the first 15 minutes. But I also remember my mom dropping a fair amount of money on silk and special paints so that we do more after the workshop, and yet, I don't remember finishing a piece or turning it into something usable EVER.
In the book, "Buried in Treasures", written by Dr. David Tolin, Randy Frost, and Gail Steketee (considered among the top professionals in the field of compulsive hoarding), their is a similar discussion about the thought processes that make crafting (and many other hobbies) very dangerous for a hoarder. They speak of the association a hoarder makes with owning the supplies much in the same way that a normal person would associate based on an action. For a hoarder, owning a sewing machine and lots of sewing supplies makes them a seamstress, or very crafty. They do not have to do a project, let alone complete one, for them to see themselves as a seamstress or quilter.
This reminds me of the quote:
"Just because you are sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car..."
Obviously, most people associate themselves by what they do. For instance, I own a sewing machine (and do know how to use it) but I don't see myself as being a crafter, seamstress, or quilter. I could be one of those things if I put my time into learning, doing, and finishing sewing projects. However, I use my sewing machine most often to sew on scouting badges or hem skirts. That makes me little more than a housewife with basic sewing skills.
In male hoarders, we often see a similar issue with DIY projects and supplies. We saw Bill in Season One of "Hoarders" who had a large home filled with building supplies for projects that he had "yet to complete", or in fact to begin. He saw himself as a DIYer because he owned the tools and supplies to complete a myriad of projects around the house. The great catch is that he owned so many of these supplies that it would have been impossible to complete any of them.
I'm quite the opposite of my mother. I fear unfinished projects and clutter, so I don't try to learn new hobbies. I have a few hobbies I practice, and at times even those leave me with some anxiety. But I don't call myself a "couponer" because I try to save money; I'm not a scrapbooker just because I put together a beautiful album for my husband of our lives together. I'm me, and I enjoy doing these things.
But many like my mom see their possessions as defining them, and being fiercely possessive of these things. It's like taking away the yarn from the crafter is equivalent to cutting off their hands! And such is the struggle with convincing our parents to part with their things. And really, would you give up part of your identity???