Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Crafty Train Wreck

Note:  Feel free to use this tutorial as a lesson on how not-to-craft.  This is the anti-craft.

As my kids have grown older I have found an inner craftician that I never knew I had.  This should give all of you with craft anxiety hope because I am truly as creative as a wet sock.  I have now spent more time (and money) in craft stores in 2011 than I had spent in the past 30 years of my life combined.  You can always adopt a crafty side and fake it.  The best part is, your kids will be impressed no matter what you do and since they will usually be participating in the craft, you can blame any glaring inadequacies on them.  That's what I do, anyway.

But the other day I turned a new leaf in my book of crafts; I did a craft without my kids.  It was going to be something that I created for my home that I made myself and could proudly display year after year.  People would say, "What a brilliant idea!  Did you make that?" and I would shrug nonchalantly as if words like cricut and paper-mâché aren't foreign and intimidating to me.  The problem with Becky-only crafts is that if they go to hell in an Easter basket, I have no one to blame but myself (and no one to portray in sweet photographs that say, It didn't work out, but ah, shucks, isn't he cute anyway? except for JDubbs and he was laughing at me).  Adult crafting failures are poignantly embarrassing. 

Well, here is the craft that I was attempting to recreate: a do-it-myself Easter garland for my mantle that I found at Modern Parents Messy Kids (who I will refer to from here on out as "the expert").  We still had our winter garland up (purchased, not handmade, I assure you) and I wanted to start getting the kids excited for Easter (with commercialized pastel eggs, of course, not through religious enlightenment.  Now I feel like kind of a jerk about that).  Regardless, the finished product is supposed to look like this:

photo taken by the expert

Cute and easy and I can use it as a tool to teach colors.  I figured it would take me 30 minutes tops; I felt good because I am capable of cutting ovals and stringing them on a ribbon.  Don't all of my failed crafts start with me being overconfident and then gradually I learn that my lack of attention-to-detail is my biggest flaw?  Yeah, this one will end that way, too.

I'll fill you in on my abject failure as we go, but beforehand, let me explain how to create this pretty piece of Easter paraphernalia. 


1.  a rainbow of color samples from a paint store (I went with Sherwin-Williams; the expert used Behr from Home Depot)

2.  scissors
3.  single hole punch
4.  waxed cotton rope (I used ribbon--it was a mistake.  listen to the expert)
5.  Easter egg template provided by the expert, which of course I didn't use because I think I'm cooler than that and then am proven so wrong.  (In my defense, though, we don't have a printer at home)


1.  Print out the egg template provided.  Do not, like me, attempt to eyeball an egg-shape and end up with wonky, over-circular ovals that need to be reshaped until they are way too small.
2.  Cut the paint color samples in half so they show only two colors with the line in the middle.  Eliminate the rest of the white.
3.  Trace your eggs on the back so your pen/pencil lines don't show (not that I did--God, I'm lazy).  Cut out your eggs so that they have two colors per egg with the line in the middle.

Because you are intelligent people, you probably noticed right away that you can see the letters and numbers on my egg.  For some reason, I disregarded that as important and just continued to cut my eggs in the same place on the paint sample.  Therefore the first 10 or so I made (all the pretty pink ones) had to be thrown out because they had writing on them.  Make sure where you trace your oval shape does not interfere with the color labels.  But I'm sure you would do that anyway.  Seriously...what's wrong with me?

Now you have your rainbow of egg cutouts (sans writing), laid out in roy g biv order.

3.  The expert says cut two very small holes in the eggs and weave a piece of waxed cotton through the top so to prevent slippage like a ribbon would create.  I only had an industrial, automatic hole punch from my husband's office so I just figured I'd use that.  Plus I only realized just now as I was rereading the instructions that I was supposed to make two holes (I'm ridiculous).   My hole punch was too big for two holes, anyway; I just made one.  That in itself was idiotic (and lazy) because how did I think the eggs would face forward?  Of course they would face sideways on the ribbon, but I wasn't thinking about that at the time.  I think the cracks in my crafty-façade were starting to show their smug little faces.  So my laziness hurt me on three counts.  1.  hole size and number of holes 2. placement of holes 3. slippery ribbon.

This is how the first few attempts to put holes in my oddly-shaped eggs using an electric hole punch (which I can't see where it is punching exactly) came out.

And of course I did that on a bunch at a time (lazy) so I ruined four or five in one shot.  Pretty much all the rest of the pink ones (damnit!).

So after you punch your two small holes (or one giant hole as the case may be), weave your waxed cotton through so that the egg lays flat and faces front.  Since I don't even know what waxed cotton is or where I would buy it, I certainly don't have any in the house.  So I used pretty white (slippery) ribbon.  As you can imagine, all my eggs slid to the center of the ribbon and faced the side.  Not at all what I was going for.

Sidenote:  while all this was going on, JDubbs was sitting in the living room with me, listening to the Celtics game but really just watching the train wreck that was this craft.  He was being a domestic rubbernecker--as gory as it was, he couldn't look away.

At this point, I tried to hang my eggs on our mantle, but they all just slid to the center and looked like a big pile of sideways paper.  It looks ridiculous.  JDubbs was laughing.  I turned around to argue with him and tell him that this craft was indeed going to turn out awesome and inspiring when my laziness really bit me in the ass.  The expert said, "The cotton did a great job of preventing slippage," but I had snickered arrogantly and thought, who cares if it slips?  What does that even mean?  As I turned to JDubbs to make a wry comment, the ribbon slipped from my fingers and all my eggs tumbled to the floor and into our wood pile in a big pile of disaster. 

There goes my beautiful rainbow order. 

Now they're dirty, JDubbs is barely containing his glee at my expense, and I need a cocktail.  But I had already put in so much time into this freakin craft that I was determined to make this damn garland if it killed me.  So I found them all, re-spectrum-ized them, and rehung them on the mantle, on the same slippery ribbon, with JDubbs there as a spotter (he was psyched).  And they looked okay.

But not great.  And I had to tape the ribbon every few inches so that the eggs would lie flat against the brick and not turn sideways (like the purple ones).  Basically, not awe-inspiring or Eastery in the least.  Basically, a crafty train wreck.  Kind of sad and pathetic.  Kind of like my talent level mixed with a dose of superlaziness.  Nothing good comes of it.

So I scrapped the garland and turned the rainbow eggs into something else.  Something easier.  Something that doesn't require tiny hole punches or waxed cotton.  Take this craft and a lesson along with it:  if you're going to try to achieve something that you can be proud of, try putting in a little effort next time, lady.  Or at least read the directions completely and have the proper materials.

A wing and a prayer don't always amount to much.  I hope you have better luck with this craft because it really is beautiful and with some effort would look fabulous in any home.  I'm just a trainwreck and a crapshoot all rolled into one.  Not ideal craft settings on a good day, but certainly not when I'm trying to be  someone I'm not.  Or at least, someone who pays attention to detail!

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Zeller Family said...

I just laughed out loud. Thanks! :)

Rosann said...

Oh my goodness, thank you for the laugh! I was considering doing something sort of similar but stopped myself because I figured I'd screw it up. But who knows, maybe I'll give it a whirl anyway!


Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma said...

Spend some time on the big wig crafty bloggers and you'll know the dialect in no time. That part had me laugh out loud...

I taught art in Chicago, so I know my way around a craft store or two, but I remember being totally intimidated. Now, only the textile arts scare the bejesus out of me. Crochet? Knit? Shudder...

You are right, with kids...they want to create. And destroy.

Great post...

K said...

I laughed until I cried....but only because I was thinking "If we ever got together, Michael, JoAnn, AND Mr. Hobby Lobby would spontaneously combust."

I was cutting out a TON of butterflies...and since I don't have a Cricut, I mean I was tracing a cookie cutter then painstakingly cutting them out. Now I'd placed them as close to the bottom as I could, so as to conserve paper....and wound up with half a dozen that say things like "rapadoodle Paper Company-Sea Gre" I feel your pain. :)

Have to follow!

Steph at said...

Wow, this is hilarious - and only partly because you keep referring to me as "the expert".

If it makes you feel any better my family was looking at me cock-eyed the whole time I was constructing this brilliant idea.

Oh, and the waxed cotton is just the stuff on spools in the jewelry department of the craft store. I only know it's called waxed cotton because I brought it up to the counter and said "I need some of this please" and the lady said "how much waxed cotton would you like?"

I'm sorry your project didn't turn out so well but I loved reading about your misadventures and at least you got a really entertaining post out of it!

I started a pinterest page of people trying this project and I'm putting your anti-craft up - thanks so much for sharing!

Kathryn Michelle Jenkins said...

haha so funny. this is hillarious. I just made a paint sample birthday garland on my blog...

what a hoot.

radn said...

very pretty! simple and modern!

Jill said...

Oh that's too funny! Great post - I think we've all had crafts like this!

Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
Hope you have a great week!
Jill @ Creating my way to Success

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

Rats, eh! I like your attitude though - a lesson for all of us. Well that and the garland is a lesson for all of us ;)

Kristin said...

OK ... I have to say I haven't laughed that hard in a looooooong time!! You are hilarious!! Sorry that your garland didn't turn out exactly the way that you wanted it to, but you made it memorable!

Hanna said...

I'm sorry you had such a hard time but the end result is really cute. thank you for sharing

My Wonderfully Made said...

Train wreck or not -- this is CUTE and you gave us all a great laugh in the process!

Kelli @ RTSM said...

LOL at not being able to blame the kiddos if you work without them:) I HATE when I spend a ton of time working on a craft and it is a fail!

Amber C said...

LoL that was awesome! Thanks!
Happy Easter!
(poppin in from T&J)

Jerri said...

How funny! In school my art was always the worst, so I'm a work in progress when it comes to crafting!

But I think your end product turned out good! Thanks for linking up with me for Friday Favorites!

Rebecca @ My Girlish Whims said...

wow what a hassle!! haha but i do think the end result looks good though!! :)

Thanks for linking up to Your Whims Wednesday! Hope to see ya again later this week :)

PartyMom said...

This is too funny! It makes me feel so much better to know that others out there are as craft-challenged as I am (just posted some of my own craft FAILs today, actually).

Jenn Erickson said...

Becky, you're killin' me! Your humorous take on your craftastrophe is far better than any old boring craft tutorial. Best of all, it gives us all an opportunity to laugh at ourselves. No matter how craft savvy or inept, everyone has projects that simply don't live up to our original vision. We're curious and prideful creatures that ignore instructions, tips and warnings, rush ahead, and hope for the best. The results are often disastrous, and in hindsight -- hilarious.

Thank you so much for sharing your story on "A Little Birdie Told Me..." at Rook No. 17!


Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma said...

Thanks for linking up to Creative Juice Thursday! Hope to see you back this week...