I will freely admit that I love a bit of DIY and crafting, although I have time for neither these days. I am sure that somehow the world is coping with a few less things unnecessarily coated in glitter and disastrous attempts at crochet.
I took up crochet for a while in my early 20s. By “took up” I mean “read a tutorial on a website that taught me one stitch, which I then used exclusively”. The actual result of crocheting with a single stitch and no additional skill whatsoever is that you crochet in circles. Having no plan for roughly 8 dozen tiny crocheted circles, I decided to stitch them together and call the end result “free form crochet art”. I was a bit of a dick back then.
My cat (God bless her heroic soul), seeing no other choice in the matter, managed to drag my bag of crochet hooks to some unknown parts I have still not discovered. Bereft of my hooks, I stopped creating free form crochet art and turned instead to whiskey and poetry.
If there’s one time of year that makes me wish I had time for crafting, it’s Christmas. This was not an urge that I felt prior to the invention of Pinterest, which is essentially the mother of all evils. Pinterest serves three purposes. They are:
- To let us keep track of ideas that we will never actually end up doing
- To make us feel badly about ourselves when our attempts at Pinterest creations go wrong
- To allow us all to plan fictitious weddings
And yet I knowingly return to the site holiday after holiday, finding more and more ideas to gather onto pinboards that have become so large and unmanageable that they should technically qualify as hoarding and require therapeutic intervention. One of my favorites, cleverly named “Holidaze”, in the sense that it is not clever in the least, contains no less than three years’ worth of Christmas craft ideas that I have never – not even once – actually attempted.
I take that back. I have on one occasion attempted a Pinterest-inspired Christmas craft. But it was really an original in the end because the Pinterest version did not involve glitter. I, being exceptionally crafty, glittered the living shit out of it. It glinted so brightly astronauts on the I.S.S. were able to take photographs and pin them to their own Christmas pinboards.
Armed with the basic concept – an ornament emblazoned with my son’s tiny fingerprint which would through the magic of paint pens be turned into a reindeer – I stormed into Michael’s, found a number of clear plastic ornaments, diligently used my customary 40% off coupon and returned home to work on assembling my masterpiece.
Years before I had learned a technique (on Pinterest) for glittering the inside of a vessel, so that it the glitter isn’t on the outside and continuously shedding like some kind of unusually festive dandruff. The technique involves swishing Pledge floor polish (clear oil) around inside said vessel until all the walls are coated in a film of oil. You then dump a metric ton of glitter on top of the oil-coated surface and jiggle it around until it evenly distributes, creating a beautiful glittered effect from the inside out.
I first practiced this technique on a trio of dollar store vases when my son was about 3 months old. We’d just moved into a new house and I really wanted to put my personal stamp on it. Nothing says “Dina’s personal stamp” like useless decor that glitters. They sat on shelves in the bathroom until I moved out, forgetting to take them with me. Fast forward two years, and the glittered vases arrived in a box along with a number of other personal possessions.
It was as if someone had dropped the Hiroshima equivalent of a glitter bomb inside a 16×16″ square box. Everything was coated in glitter because – and this is what the pin never told you – the moment you turn the thing you’ve just glittered upside down, the glitter loses its grip on the oil and falls out in a spectacular mess. I now own unintentionally glittered shoes, handbags, notebooks, cat toys, Windows OS emergency backup CDs and a cardboard desktop caddy, as well as three exceptionally greasy vases.
Thankfully the Christmas ornaments I found would not have this problem, because they were sealed on the top where the ornament hanger goes. So I set to work, happily swishing floor polish, shaking around glitter and creating three virtually indestructible ornaments on which I would imprint three tiny little almost-one-year-old thumbprints and create adorable reindeer for each of his grandmothers, and one for me to keep.
My first problem occurred when I remembered my son did not like to have paint applied to his hands. I learned this the hard way when I attempted another pin which involved hand prints on a tree (“family tree”); instead I had to do footprints in a tree, which doesn’t quite have the same sentimental appeal. But I could immobilize my son long enough to paint his feet and dab them on a piece of paper containing some clip art of a tree that I’d enlarged and printed for the occasion. This was to be a Mother’s Day gift for each of his grandmothers. Really, it’s amazing they’re both still talking to me.
The second problem occurred almost simultaneously – we didn’t have any appropriate paint apart from a dark brown acrylic that may have been too thick to show the unique lines and curves of his thumbprint.
In the end, I miserably failed at getting a clear thumbprint, and resorted instead to painting his big toe, and improvising with a smudged toe print. Given the hue of the brown and the indistinguishable features of the toe print, I had just created three ornaments with brown turds on them. Turds that were not going to become any less turd-like when I added eyes, a Rudolph-red nose and antlers.
I was, in essence, giving the gift of Christmas-themed fecal art, only more hygienic.
Undaunted, I added antlers, eyes, nose and text that bore my son’s name and the year. It was only later that I realized I’d failed to explain to anyone what the brown smudge was. They seemed very relieved when I told them it was in fact just the imprint of a toe.
I should have known better than to tackle Christmas crafts after the largest non-Pinterest-inspired Christmas craft fail of my life: the year I made everybody wreaths.
I was pregnant with my son and ridiculously strapped for cash (and ideas), so I made my family a rather attractive wreath with ornaments that befitted their lakeside setting – wooden ducks, canoes, oars, that sort of thing. I strung miniature LED lights and tied ribbons throughout. It actually passed for a decent wreath, and so it went to my family, who have to my memory never displayed it in the years since I returned home, and barely spoke about it at the time. It was, perhaps, not such a decent wreath after all.
My magnum opus was a wreath for my OB/GYN to display in his office. I bought a small evergreen wreath and set out to coat pacifiers, baby spoons, wooden blocks and other small baby goods in Mod Podge and acrylic paint so that they were all in varying shades of red and green. Do you know how many coats of acrylic it takes to paint a plastic baby spoon any color other than the one it started out with? No? Good. Don’t ever try to find out.
The problem with this wreath-making kick was that one of the most troublesome pregnancy symptoms I suffered was severe carpal tunnel. And there was such a force of extra blood flow in my hands that a capillary quite literally made its way through to the surface of my skin and popped up like an ugly red tumor that would without warning start bleeding profusely and require medical intervention until the bleeding stopped. This was the state of my hands, and yet, I was still crafting.
Due to pain and lack of time I never did finish the wreath for my doctor. But I found it recently in a 16×16″ box of personal belongings sent to me. It was unintentionally covered in glitter.