My apartment is littered with failed craft projects, DIY books and the occasional tortilla chip. See, I love the idea of crafts, but not as much as I love not completing them. Given that and the fact that etsy now exists, you'd think I'd hang up my glitter pen altogether, but then you'd think wrong.
As a matter of fact, last Thursday I decided to take it to the next level by attending a craft class at West Elm hosted by none other than Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. There are so many things to like about that sentence, I don't even know where to start. Except I do because an introduction is in order -- Design*Sponge is an amazing home blog that features incredible home goods, awesome project ideas and the greatest Before & After photos ever. And Grace Bonney is the world's smallest blogger that started it all.
There were only 20 slots available for the craft hour so to even get one made you feel like a really big deal. In my mind I pictured all these sad, pitiful people with their noses pressed up against the glass just staring longingly inside.
Of course, that totally didn't happen and there was a public book signing directly after the event so everyone was included. Also included -- tiny cupcakes from Society Bakery. Oh, no wait, that's not what they were -- they were fucking amazing tiny cupcakes from Society Bakery. Seriously those things were insane and no one even monitored how many you took so it was like a tiny cupcake free-for-all.
But back to thinking I was big time.
When I arrived there were craft tables set up and to gain entrance I needed to show my ticket. After I did they gave me a copy of Grace's new book, Design*Sponge at Home, and told me to find a seat. Each seat had two cloth napkins, a square of freezer paper, an X-acto knife, scissors, stencils, a pencil, paints and those wedge-style paintbrushes. Behold, our craft -- personalized napkins. Of course the minute we sat down we each took turns swapping our napkin color until we got the ones we wanted. Surprise: No one wanted drab olive green.
Around 6 p.m., Grace introduced herself and our craft and took us through the steps which none of the people at my table could grasp. It was a simple craft -- cut a stencil out of the freezer paper, iron the freezer paper onto the napkin and stipple paint on the non-paper areas. It turned into a real brain bender and we all kept cutting the wrong part of the stencil out. Eventually Grace X-acto-knifed up an example and we all collectively went, "Ooohhh."
Turns out freezer paper is really amazing. When ironed on fabric it keeps your paint lines clean and peels right off. Stippling is pretty cool, too. It's a technique where you dab paint on as opposed to brushing it on. It helps layer the paint and create a bold color.
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We were all encouraged to use the stencils or draw whatever we wanted freehand. I saw one girl do a chevron pattern which was genius and not nearly as tedious to cut as my individual letters. I spelled out "Leaf me alone" on one napkin and stenciled a vein-y leaf on the other. (If we had a best-in-class, it would be this one set of silhouettes. They were super adorable and everyone oohed and aahed accordingly.)
Honestly, I just signed up for that workshop because I really like the blog and thought "why not?" But I got more out of it than a personalized set of cloth napkins and a book. That night I learned that crafts don't have to be perfect. Even with the freezer paper some of the paint bled a little and I realized it's imperfections that make handmade gifts so charming. Now if those words make you want to gag, it's cool. I'm currently stenciling a set of barf bags and I'll send one your way.
But seriously, when you sit down to craft it makes a difference to know that it's OK to mess up and not get it right. Sometimes projects don't work out at all, but sometimes they work out better than you'd ever expect. And some of those "better than expected" times are when you didn't get it just right.