Stop pinning, start doing

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Chances are, if you aren’t pinning, you’re pining for pinning.

According statistics — pinned on Pinterest, of course, from various sources — Pinterest has grown to more than 10 million registered users since launching in spring of 2010.

The virtual pinboard has mostly women — they make up some 80 percent of users, despite the fact the idea was conceived by three men, one of whom is a Des Moines native — pinning everything from recipes and hairstyles, to do-it-yourself projects and celebrity pictures.

The appeal, users says, is the clean, attractive design that provides an easy way to organize ideas and inspirations found online.

Users follow one another can see what their peers have pinned. As a result ideas and pictures gain popularity virally.

But, when does the pinspiration turn to perspiration? In other words, when do you stop pinning and start doing?

Kari Elhard, 30, of Cedar Rapids, is a self-described “realist pinner.”

“I only pin things that I might actually make or do. I enjoy looking at the fantasy homes and crazy hairdos, but I’d rather pin things that I’m really going to accomplish,” says Elhard, who was turned onto the site by her mother.

“My mom doesn’t spend much time online and if she thought it was worth spending time on, I figured I should try it out,” she says.

“I love to try new recipes, make art and do crafty things with my kids, but I run out of ideas. Pinterest gives me new ideas and step-by-step instructions on how to do it. How can you not love that?”

Elhard says she was hooked pretty quickly, in part because she can use the ideas in her job as an art teacher.

Elhard teaches a preschool art class through the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Department called “It’s a Mess.”

“Each session consists of six classes and each class we do three projects. I have to teach four sessions before I can repeat a project, so that’s 72 unique ideas to come up with.

“After session two, I was out of interesting ideas and that’s where Pinterest came in,” she says.

“These are ideas I would have never come up with myself and the students love them.”

Elhard credits the Pinterest-inspired curriculum with increased class enrollment and positive parent feedback.

Cathy Petersen, 47, of Cedar Rapids, has also used Pinterest at work.

Petersen alters recipes she finds, typically turning cupcakes into scones, for sale at her Marion coffee shop, Witte’s End.

“The French toast scone got rave reviews,” Petersen says.

“You never now what’s going to inspire you, but I do try to make it something that, in reality, I am going to do.”

Petersen has also had good results turning a hazelnut cupcake with Nutella frosting and an Earl Grey and poppy seed muffin into scones.

“I used to print out ideas I’d find online. Now Pinterest let’s me keep those inspirational ideas a little closer and organized online because I find bookmarking bulky,” she says.

As a hairstylist Stefanie Anderson, 33, of Cedar Rapids, often finds herself talking about Pinterest with clients.

“I describe it to my clients as a creative person’s Google. If you are looking for something unique, use Pinterest. You won’t have to sift through all of the paid ads.”

She thinks Pinterest has actually cut down on her online shopping time and because Pinterest essentially acts as an attractive link to other sites, it has led her to discover new blogs that she wouldn’t have otherwise found.

Pinterest has done more than save Anderson money by curbing her online shopping too.

She used ideas culled from the site to make decorations for a fundraiser for her husband who is battling cancer.

“The projects for the benefit were chosen for their visual impact at a low cost. They looked much more elaborate and expensive than they were,” Anderson says.“Everyone loved them at the event and actually asked if they could purchase them.”

Those projects weren’t without their hiccups, but one of the reasons Anderson likes the site is because it eliminates some of the experimentation generally involved with craft projects.

“Sometimes it is nice to try other people’s crafts,” she says. “It cuts down on trial and error when I am looking for my next project. I love that people with similar interests have done most of the work for me.”

Erin Gray, 34, of Cedar Rapids, says pinners who haven’t taken action on their pins are shortchanging themselves.

“Once I started actually trying to do the things I have pinned, I was amazed, and it made it even more fun,” she says. “I like to pin easy recipes that take just a few ingredients and craft and home improvement ideas that are easy to implement.”

Gray tracks projects and recipes that she has completed by commenting “Done” on each.

“It makes me feel like I am actually following through and then folks who follow me also know what I am planning to try versus what I have actually done,” she says.

So far Gray has created everything from photographic art pieces for her home and Christmas decorations, to a superhero cape for her nephew’s birthday.

“Just try it and start simple,” she says.

“Don’t go for something super hard or complicated. The simple things I’ve done have been the best so far and I wish I had done them sooner.”

Anderson for one enjoys the extra inspiration and challenge Pinterest brings.

“I have always been an artist of some kind, and when I see something outstanding, I am always drawn to recreate it with my own twist,” she says.

Local pinners agree that while scrolling through the site is entertaining it can also be addicting.

So they try to keep it in check.

“I hear people joke about wasting a lot of time on the site,” Elhard says. “I think Pinterest is a great tool if you use it in the right way. Pinterest is a great way to get inspired. So find those ideas, log off and go accomplish something.”

In other words, don’t just pin it.

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