DIY Culture

On the left: a citrus-scented homemade lotion, with aloe vera, almond oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and glycerine, among other ingredients (including stearic acid, e-wax, vitamin E, and potassium sorbate as a food-grade preservative). On the right, the same lotion with zinc oxide added at about 15%, which I use for sun protection along with my hat.

A DIY apple pie, fresh from the oven. It was delicious.

A DIY apple pie, fresh from the oven. It was delicious.

Do It Yourself fabric: I designed this tartan by consulting recent books on the history of tartan and by checking the look of my design -- and its originality -- with an online computer tartan 'memory'.

Do It Yourself fabric: I designed this tartan by consulting recent books on the history of tartan and by checking the look of my design -- and its originality -- with an online computer tartan 'memory'.

I really think we live these days in the DYI Age. It's never been easier to Do It Yourself, and that's because the Internet answers any conceivable question for a newbie, and creates great confidence. I have a book somewhere (since moving, my books are organized by what will fit in any particular shelf rather than according to subject) that tells me how to fix this and that in the home. But even if I could lay my hands on that book, there are two things we know about it that don't apply to Internet forums or YouTube videos: 1. it won't answer any possible question I might have about the process, and 2. it won't show me every actual step in the process (such as when to use a mallet on a stiff union, or which way to turn a nut). 

In the past, you bought a book on how to do something, and unless you were going to buy every book on the market, you were stuck with that person's way of doing things. Now, I make my own moisturizing lotion, which I use on my face and hands and chest where it's exposed to the sun; I even add zinc oxide to make my own suncream. But I don't use just one recipe or just one method. There is a Kindle book on the subject that I find too worried about germs and too fussy; I take what I like from it. But I can afford to do this because other books and blogs, all accessible in electronic form, show me the real need-to-know information, and give me a picture of where the real boundaries are. And they do this efficiently, without my losing a lot of time in a library, as in the past, or painstakingly writing to experts in the hope that they might respond.

This is the DIY world. We've all heard the phrase 'it's easy if you know how'. But in the past, it wasn't so easy to get to know how. Now it is. Making lotion for yourself is much easier than cooking most dinners. Now that I know, I shall never go back. And I like the total control. A recent batch of creams I made smelled of anise. I loved the smell, and you just can't buy that. I also know that almost everything I put on my skin is there to serve my skin rather than the product. It's like baking your own bread, which I also do -- with a bread machine. It's nice to have the freedom of taste and the control.

Today I reinstalled most of the internal gear of my toilet tank, which had stopped filling, at a grand cost to me of $12 or so, including tax. Why did I feel comfortable doing this? How did I know that this would solve the problem? By looking at a plumbing supplier's website and following their instructional video. (This was even more helpful than the instructions that came with the parts.) In the past, I would have paid a plumber to fix it, and that would have meant a minimum of $35 just to get him to come to the house. And instead of fixing it today, I would have had to wait until he had the time. I much prefer the DIY life.