Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CraftFail, The Book! An Interview With Heather Mann

I am a huge fan of the blog   Why?  Because it's fabulous.  Gawking at other people's crafty disasters - what could be more confidence-boosting than that?  Plus, I sometimes get featured there, when something I've tried to make has gone fatally awry.  And now there's a book!

photo credit: Craftfail, Workman Publishing

Even before it came out, I was excited for the publication.  It's on my gift list for a bunch of people who need this book - and don't even know it.  It exceeded my expectations!  The fails are so horrifying, you can't help but love them (and the brave souls who allowed them to see the light of day).  Like this delightful bunny cake:

photo credit: Craftfail, Workman Publishing

That won't give your child nightmares.  Nope.  Not at all.

Or this super elegant gingerbread house:

photo credit: Craftfail, Workman Publishing

Gaaaah!   Only thing missing: little marzipan men in hazmat suits.

There are sections for every type of craft out there - foodie failures, decor disasters and fashion freakouts.  I love the one called Martha Made It.  Point of pride: one of my own personal mess-tastrophes made the cut (pg 17, Paisley Poo-Brella).

At least as funny as the fails are the captions and snarky side notes from the author.  ("Napalm Cake In A Jar."  "Mo' Saics, Mo' Problems.")   Ha!  So here's Heather in her own words, to tell you what went on in her crafty little head along the way.

Mich: I remember reading zines of yours from waaay back in the day.  And of course you're kind of a big deal online, with myriad blogs and guest appearances all around the web.  Is CraftFail your first published book?  Heather: Yes! After 30 years of writing (my first office was in my bedroom closet when I was 8), I have finally achieved published author status!

Mich: What was the original concept behind the CraftFail blog? Heather: Well, I massively botched a crocheted collar on a t-shirt, which was just the most recent in a long line of fails, and it occurred to me that I didn't have to waste the work if I just posted about the failed project anyway. After a few posts, I was hooked on posting about my failures.  When I started it in 2009, I invited crafters to post their own crafty failures. By the time Pinterest started to get popular in 2011ish, the site began to take off because of the legions of new crafters who were trying Pinterest-inspired crafts, and failing.

Mich: How was the experience of writing the book different from anything else you've done?  Heather: The most notable difference about the process of writing CraftFail was that it was ALL TEXT when I wrote it. I am used to writing blog-style, with plenty of photos in between paragraphs. It was surprisingly difficult to write the first draft of the book as a giant Word doc. I couldn't see what was happening in the manuscript at all.

Mich: I plan to give copies to some very diverse people in my life, who I think will love it for totally different reasons.  Who do you see as the audience for the book?  Heather: Anyone who has tried crafting (or even cooking) will find something to love in this book, but I really wrote it as a love letter to those optimists who experience delusions of grandeur whenever they embark on a project. I secretly hope to convert people who are ashamed or irritated when they experience failure, and bring them over to the enlightened side of failure celebration.

Mich: My husband was laughing out loud at the disasters - and he's a tough audience!  Have you experienced that non-crafters and dudes enjoy the book more that you expected?  Heather: I have been really excited to hear from several people that their husbands have been laughing out loud at the book. I never anticipated that, but I am really thrilled that the book appeals to people outside of my little crafty world.

Mich: What's going on in your crafty life right now?  Anything new and mysterious in the works?  Heather: I am hoping to work on another book very soon but I don't have anything concrete to share as I'm still in the idea incubation phase. Other than that, I've been having fun making videos for my YouTube channel.

Mich: Thanks, Heather!  For the interview and the awesome, adorable, terrifying book.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

I hope you guys enjoyed this glimpse of the crafty publication of the season!  Now, please excuse me...I gotta go buy ingredients for a Napalm Cake In A Jar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bento Fish Jewelry

Allow me to introduce my salty new necklace and earrings.

Made from soy sauce fish!  Have you seen these things?  Inexpensive, adorable tiny bottles.  Most often used for bento box lunches.  Are they not the niftiest?

I bought mine at Seattle's famous Uwajimaya store.  You can find soy sauce fish at specialty food stores, Japanese gift shops or online.  I am quite giddy over these briny gems.

The secret of the blue earrings is madly fun.  With the cap removed, pinch a fish between thumb and forefinger, then dip the opening in paint.  Release the pressure and suck up about a quarter of a fish's worth of color.  Squoosh the paint around to cover the inside completely, and let it dry.

Now the color is sealed inside!  Snip off the neck like so:

The color is up to you.  Any paint should work - I'm agog to experiment some more.  I really want try it with antique gold enamel, glitter paint and, ooh, neon coral!

Converting them into jewelry is easy peasy.  The plastic is so soft, a thumbtack is enough to poke any holes you need.  I made simple wire loops to add pearl 'bubbles,' and attached them to fishhook earwires.

The clear pendant was even simpler.  I poked sideways holes on either side of the mouth, then inserted a big jump ring as a bail to attach the necklace.

Since these fish weigh nothing, I added a heavy crystal bead and some glass pearls to the fishtail for ballast.  I found the prettiest fish clasp to finish it off.

You know you need this cuteness in your life.  So find a Japanese gift shop - seize the carp - and make some jewelry! 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Duct Tape Necklace - Easy DIY!

Duct tape jewelry!  Have you tried it?  I've seen lots of cute ideas and have wanted to give it a whirl.  Instead, I gave it a ruffle.

Want to make one?  Here comes the easy DIY.  You will need:

duct tape
pointy li'l scissors
skinny cord or string
enough beads to string a necklace
a pendant OR a big bead dangle
a pinch bail OR a big jump ring

Fold together a long-ish piece of duct tape.  You want to end up with a double-thickness piece between 6 and 12 inches long.

Poke holes along the center.  Use anything pointy.  Doesn't matter how many, but it works best to have an even number of holes.

Cut two teeny squares of duct tape and stick them to the back of the strip (bottom edge, in the center.)  This is to reinforce the spot where you'll hang the pendant.

To make the ruffle a prettier shape, cut a notch off the top edge, like so:

Thread skinny cord through the holes.  Squoosh it up in the center to form your ruffle.

Ain't that fun?

Now to finish the necklace!  Simply string beads onto the rest of the cord.

Make it long enough to slip over your head, and tie an overhand knot in back.

To add the pendant, poke a hole in the ruffle's bottom center, where you reinforced it.

This little thingy is a pinch bail.  Sorry, the one crucial closeup and it came out fuzzy!  But you can kinda see it...

If you don't have one, use a big jump ring.  Put the pinch bail or jump ring through the hole, then close it around the pendant.

Alternative way to hang the pendant: make a wire loop to join a big bead to the ruffle, like this:

Voila, you are done!

I'm now dying to make some using wood-grain pattern duct tape - wouldn't that look cool and go with all kinds of great beads?

Oh, remember how I said I wanted to give it a whirl?  Here's that version!

Have fun!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Vintage Fishing Tackle Earrings

I acquired an old box full of miscellaneous fishing tackle.   Today, on the principle that every girl needs the option of neon orange fish eggs in her wardrobe, I made these earrings.

In the sun, these pretties flash like minnows in a trout stream.

I plan to raid the rest of the box for more supplies.   So many cool things used for fishing tackle!  Like these mother-of-pearl teardrops:

The ends of these little connectors spin 360 degrees:

No clue what these do, but they're tiny and fabulous:

Love these extra big 2-hole reflectors:

If you spot any of this stuff in a future project, you'll know where it came from.

Next time you find a box of fishin' gear at a thrift shop or yard sale, think about jewelry potential.  (Cautionary note: often, tackle will include lead sinkers.  Be sure to discard them.)

So do tell - have you ever found something pretty in a tackle box?

Sharing with the vintage party at:


Monday, August 25, 2014

Beaded Cactus Pot

Today, a fun decor project - with freeform, funky wirework that anybody can do!  Take a look.

Here's the BEFORE: a beautiful cactus in a boring plastic pot.

Here's the AFTER: a beautiful cactus in a shimmery, dangly, swirly, spiky and sweet beaded pot!

 It's super simple to do, with minimal supplies.  Here's the DIY.

Cut some short and long pieces of craft wire.  Extra cute points if it's a fun color!  On one end of each piece, turn a little loop.

Slide a big bead onto each wire.

For the short beaded dangles, just bend the free end over.

For the long, squiggly beaded dangles, use pliers or your fingers to make irregular swoopy bends, like so:

Then finish up with a sharp bend at the end.

Make a bunch...don't even worry about making them all the same length or shape.  Freeform, bae!

Hang them on the plastic pot, staggering the lengths.

(Yes, that is a live cactus.  It's called Devil's Tongue, and it is one demonic little so-and-so.  Use care and/or wear gloves when hanging the dangles.)

All bedangled?  Lovely!

I like the way the dangles echo the colors and spiky sass of the cactus.  Might be fun to try this with different types of houseplants, matching the mood of the beads to the foliage?  And I will never look down my nose at a boring plastic pot again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Check It Out, Bra! An Upcycled Underwire Pendant

Ooh, today I made this!  Out of all my jewelry conjured from freaky trash, it has jumped right up there to rank with my favorites.

See that beautiful big scroll between the necklace and the pendant?   It's the underwire from a broken bra.

Next time, don't just toss that worn out foundation garment.  Whether it be boulder holder or pebble perker, rescue those underwires and turn them it into something pretty.

Here's the DIY.

Remove the little plastic wire ends.  (Just tug, they come right off.)

To snap off the skinny metal tips, bend them back and forth a few times.

Grab one end of the underwire in round nose pliers.  Begin turning with all your might.

Keep going until you have a swirl.  Repeat for the other side.

Start a fold in the center with your fingers, like so:

Then push hard on the sides until the swirls crisscross.

Finish up with this one last move:

You made a pendant hanger!  Now use an extra-big jump ring.  Put it through the hole in your pendant, then close it  around the entire crisscross.  See what I mean?

Did you evah?  Would you evah?

I would and I did.