It stared with pom poms—small, fuzzy, seemingly innocuous pom poms. It ended with a rejection email from the casting director of TLC Broadcasting and a newfound hatred of Tori Spelling. But let’s start with the pom poms. They were my gateway craft and this is my story.
Second grade. This is when my trouble began. “Mrs. E” was a tired teacher, exhausted by the endless screams and giggles of small children. She would shovel glitter and glue sticks and pom poms into our small eager palms and sigh “craft time” before she shuffled outside to smoke a cig. We had pipe cleaners and finger paint and more googly eyes than any child knew what to do with. For the rest of the class, craft time was just an opportunity to get a bead stuck up your nose. For me, it was sweet solace.
This was well before I knew I would end up at RISD, well before I figured out my energy could be channeled into more fruitful artistic endeavors. Haunted by the image of Barney and his far superior craft box, I was hungry for more projects. As the years went on—and many Christmases passed where it was pretty much guaranteed that in that handmade box with the handmade bow was a small handmade present made by me—my crafting compulsion spiraled out of control.
By high school, I would root around my purse looking for a pencil and emerge with nothing but a handful of googly eyes. I spent $60 on Martha Stewart’s entire glitter collection, and then some extra for the glitter applicator pen set. I made my own stationary, began pouring my own candles, and got serious about embroidery. When friends invited me to go out, I would lie and say I wasn’t feeling well; I was really trying my hand at art of needle felting. I got a job at a pottery painting studio to fund my habits. Needless to say, it was a dark time.
So last year, when I was informed about a new reality TV series that was centered around a crafting competition, my heart began race. Two craft teams would be pitted against each other in “Craft Wars.” The winner would receive $10,000. I’m not sure you understand how many button makers and laminators that kind of money could buy me. With $10,000, I could laminate everything I own… and everyone I knew.
I promptly began my application. I found partner with a similar love for crafting and we began making videos and heartfelt pleas to the casting director. That’s when we got the first nibble. “She loves us!!” I recall my partner saying. She had gotten a phone call from the casting director. “She said we have the exact sort of energy the series is looking for! We’ve made it to the next round of auditions!” I was giddy with excitement.
More videos were made and I began to tell all my friends about my impending celebrity status. Every few weeks, we advanced to the next stage of the audition process until the spring of last year, when we made it to the finals. It was us against some old ladies from Ohio. We had it in the bag.
Then we got cut. With one abrupt email, it was all over. “We can’t offer you a spot on the show.” It was like that feeling when you finish the last page of the last book in Harry Potter and realize it’s done. What the hell was I supposed to do now? Suddenly I lost all motivation to craft, it was just too painful.
The next thing I know, Tori Spelling’s face is plastered all over my TV, advertising the new show she was hosting, “Craft Wars.” My show. Since when does Tori Spelling know anything about crafting? She couldn’t glue a rhinestone on a decorative pencil case even if Martha was there, holding her hand. I was incensed.
Ever since, I’ve cut back on my crafting. My hot glue gun is gathering dust. I’m sure my glitter is too—it’s just hard too tell because it’s so damn sparkly. I try to stick to my textile design homework: knitting, weaving, and silk screening. Of course it reminds me of my crafting days, but baby steps are key in a situation like this. It’s important to learn from the past, embrace it. I thought about making a scrapbook about it as a sort of coping mechanism, but then I realized scrapbooking is just another gateway craft.