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.


  1. Let's get real....there must be 10X more craft fails out there than craft successes. This sounds hilarious and makes me feel like all's right with the world!!

  2. haha..very cool. as I am sharing craft tutorial every week from years, so I can proudly say "who knows better than Me?" haha.. so many craft fails are there in the folders but who knows? I shared a very few craft fails on blog..haha
    I enjoyed reading the interview. All the best for her book sales!

  3. What a great interview and a funny book! I love that her first office was her bedroom at 8. I'm off to check out her web site now and thanks for sharing!