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Have Yourself a Merry Little Craftfail Xmas

November 29, 2010

Presents I did not wrap courtesy of the defunct Domino Magazine Dec. 2007 issue

One holiday season, many moons ago, a friend gifted me with a lovely, handmade journal. At the time she was teaching a bookbinding class, though she was a painter by trade. The simplicity and joy of the gift gave me a few ill conceived ideas about duplicating the experience for others. The results of my own handmade holiday joy campaign were mixed to awful. As another holiday season begins with shoppers mobbing and trampling each other for blowout bargain bonanzas, once again I find myself toying with idea of engaging in another round of holiday themed craftfail. I am not so much crafty as I am craft aspirational. And like a prom date who decides to color her hair the night before the big dance, I’ve often been felled by my modest skill set, which was greatly exceeded by my ambitions.

Snarky’s Machine CraftFail Hall of Shame

Shiny Happy Metal Folding Chair Ruining Pants

This heartwarming holiday craftfail began as most: too many hours watching HGTV. I spotted a very cool hack of an ordinary metal folding chair. The show’s designers had opted to spray paint the chair and their results were fairly stunning, though personally, there’s nothing one can do to a metal folding chair other than drive over it with a Mack truck that would make it appealing to me. Anyway, the gift recipient loved those kinds of chairs so I figured I would replicate the hack and also make her holiday dreams (or nightmares) come true. Armed with a general design concept and the blingiest silver spray paint in the clearance section of a craft store, I got to work on my metal masterpiece. And it came out okay. It was like the Tin Man in chair form. During, what singleton Bridget Jones terms, “horrible exchange of sealed bids” a.k.a gift exchange, I proudly presented my Trontastic chair to its new owner, who seemed pleased. She even sat down on the chair, as did a mess of other folks. I could tell who had sat on the chair, because their shiny metal asses revealed the overlooked, but crucial step in my design – sealer.

I Don’t Know If It’s Right to Write A Short Story Based on a Disco Song

A friend commissioned a disco themed short story collection for her holiday present, a project I was eager to undertake. I got to work transforming hits like, “Let’s All Chant”, “Born to be Alive”, “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round)” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” into literary explorations of love, loss and sparkly clothing. And that was cool, except the recipient felt she ought to share these literary explorations of love, loss and sparkly clothing with the very stuffy and decidedly Orange County (CA) family she was visiting for the holidays. I’m pretty sure by time she got the to story entitled, “I Don’t Know If This Is Right” – about a pair of glittery, coked up disco biscuits who share an illicit romance in 4/4 time, my friend had come to rethink her initial enthusiasm with the project. Though, for the record, she did really like the stories.

Decoupage Purses: A Lulz Story

A friend once quipped, “Decoupage is what happens when people are too crafty for their own good and cannot part with a single newspaper or magazine.” But this was well after receiving one of what I believe was my better stabs at homemade holiday joy. Learning from the mistakes of my metallic chair past and its resulting cleaning bills, I was all about the sealant. Sealant a go go. Turns out, no matter how many layers of sealant one uses, it’s no match for the plastic “base” used to create the purse. In addition, the recipient in question remarked, “I really appreciate this, I do, except I’m not really comfortable being a walking billboard for Ladies Home Journal sexual health articles.” Damn, and I thought I was being artsy!

Tell me of your sweet, boneless craftfails? And if you’re new hotness with crafts, tell me about that too. I need the inspiration! I promise to engage in nothing more complicated than card making and present wrapping.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2010 11:14 am

    Thanks for the link to craftfail & for sharing your crafty failures. I totally know what you mean when you say “crafty aspirational” – ha!

  2. November 29, 2010 1:42 pm

    Lines like this one:

    And like a prom date who decides to color her hair the night before the big dance, I’ve often been felled by my modest skill set, which was greatly exceeded by my ambitions.

    made me LOL from start to finish. As a parent of elementary school age kids, I’ve been the recipient of many a craftfail project, and have been put in the awkward position of not only having to accept them graciously but having to find appropriately prominent locations from which to display them.

  3. November 29, 2010 2:07 pm

    As a parent of elementary school age kids, I’ve been the recipient of many a craftfail project, and have been put in the awkward position of not only having to accept them graciously but having to find appropriately prominent locations from which to display them.

    HAHAHA. Macaroni art ftw!

  4. aliciamaud permalink
    November 29, 2010 3:09 pm

    I sewed my brother a stuffed gorilla in 7th grade home ec, and when I turned it inside out to stuff it, realized I had sewed its face on perfectly snugly…but sideways. With a due date and his birthday looming there was no going back, so I just finished the little guy up and gifted him. My brother still has him–he keeps him on his dresser—and there’s actually a process people go through when they look at it. They’re like, “Oh, that’s cute…wait…what’s *wrong* with it?” You just know *something* is *off*.

    My bff and I exchanged crafty birthday and Christmas gifts during our middle school years, and some of the resulting catastrophes still linger in our homes. My most awful gift to her was a stocking doll that was meant to be a likeness of the Martin Short character, Ed Grimley…but for some reason, probably because it was the fabric I had on hand, I made him out of bright red tights and dressed him in scraps of flannel. It’s a truly bizarre poppet, which she brings out and puts on her Christmas tree every year. As (surprise, surprise) no one ever spots the red blob of stockings and hunting plaid and exclaims, “Oh, Ed Grimley!” it’s as appropriate a use as any, though it somewhat bewilders he hubby.

    Her award winner was a creation for both me and for my favorite stuffed animal (a duck I had received for my 1st birthday) the year I turned 14. She figured that would mean Chuck (the duck) was finally a teenager, and thereby might be self-conscious about the fact that his beak had been completely chewed off by my dog, leaving only a straight orange line on his face. So she fashioned him an oversized, stuffed, felt, bright orange prosthetic beak. It’s so weird and great, and I still have it.

    Anyway, you might suppose these stories are outdated, but our crafting skills never progressed, so they are, sadly, actually quite current.

  5. IrishUp permalink
    November 30, 2010 6:49 pm

    The silver chair story is killing me!

    My “loving hands at home” stories are usually more about cooking, as I know my crafting dreams exceed my capacities. BUT

    Years ago, the Irishers bought hand-blown glass ornaments decorated with a cute little figure (bell, holly-leaf, etc) and our names done for us at an Xmas Crafts fundraiser fair. A few years after that, I stole the idea thinking that this was the perfect cheap-yet-charming keepsake type craft solution to my being extremely broke. So I bought “antique” Xmass balls on Ebay and paint-pens from Micheals.

    Short story: Super-cheap probably toxic Micheals paint-pens+30yo mass-produced Woolworth’s Xmas balls = Craftfail. Whether it was all the handling of the cheap ass old balls (sure, Imma leave this as is), the toxic fumes of the inferior paint-pens, or just the open air after 3 decades, all the color paint flaked off my hand-decorated gifts. Of course, this was not discovered until people opened their carefully wrapped gifts to find tissue paper containing mostly clear balls and paint chips. One friend says she loves them – she has stuffs for the BACK of the Xmass tree now!

  6. Lani permalink
    December 1, 2010 12:15 am

    I LOVE the story about the disco song themed short stories! First of all, I love the concept to itty bitty bits, but the part where your friend read them out loud to her disapproving family is hilarious. I would probably do the same thing. “Guys I am going to read these to you!” Awkward!

    One craft fail of mine I remember is a bit similar to your silver chair story. My brother is a drummer, so one year for Christmas I bought a couple sets of drumsticks and painted them. I did some cool color combos and patterns if I do say so myself, taking care to make each stick unique but have it still be obvious which pairs belonged together. Well, I didn’t seal my paint either, and the first time he used two of them all the paint left the sticks and ended up on his hands…and where ever he wiped his hands, like, you know, his face. He tells me he still keeps them in his stick bag, though, for decoration (awwww).

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