Thursday, February 13, 2014

On the Witchcraft of Craft Stores and Pinterest

Witchcraft you say? Yes, witchcraft.  That can be the only reasonable explanation for the trickery that occurs the minute you walk in the door of a store that sells craft supplies.

Let me elaborate: the other day I went into Hobby Lobby with one goal in mind: white sugar pearls.  "That's it," I firmly told myself, "that's all you need from this store. You have exactly twelve dollars in your pocket today but only two or three of them are to be spent."

The why I needed sugar pearls is unimportant (for a particular batch of cupcakes, if you must know) but you already know the ending.  I walked out with far more than just sugar pearls.

How much more? Let me count the ways:

One jar of sanding sugar, a box of pastry bags, a frosting tip and coupler, Halloween-themed cupcake liners, two spools of ribbon, a bag of candle wicks, and an easel. An easel.


What did I need out of all of those things? Nothing.
I blame it on the atmosphere.

The very second you enter, your senses are assailed by the faint comforting scent of cinnamon and your grandmother's kitchen and all of a sudden you feel like all of your dreams will come true if you just believe.  And if you purchase four bottles of ultrafine glitter.

Now, I'm well aware that craft stores do not have this affect on everybody.  For example, the only way I would get either of my brothers to go to Hobby Lobby with me would be to somehow trick them into it or to actually tie them to the roof of the car.  Once I asked Spencer to go with me and, with a massive eye roll and all the disgust of an unwilling 10-year old, he said, "Why, so someone can carry your stuff for all your art projects?" Like I had just asked him to help me pick up trash on the side of the road.

But for those of us with the urge to create, to make bits and bobs with our own two hands, craft stores and hobby shops are like crack dens.
Except for all of the crack.

While this is something that has always appealed to grandmothers, school teachers, and resident assistants dedicated to providing alcohol-free activities to college students, crafting has only fairly recently become popular among a much larger portion of the female population (she said, with zero factual basis for this statement).  Suddenly it's cool to know how to knit a scarf if you're in your twenties. It's less a sign of "old maid" and more "self-sufficient young thing making her way through the world with a neck that will never be cold".

I blame Pinterest.  Like the fleas on the backs of rats that brought the plague to Europe, so too Pinterest wantonly spreads the disease of craftiness to unwitting Internet users. Beautifully-lit photographs of holiday wreaths, complicated wedding cakes, and intricate sewing projects lure unsuspecting browsers into believing they too can weave a basket that would make Martha Stewart nod in approval.

"If I build this bookshelf out of old pallets, I will bring honor to my family.  Just like my great great aunt Constance, when she used the slats of her family's broken Conestoga wagon to fashion a raft to take them over the Missouri River, I too am doing a great and noble thing."

Except the difference is that I call it "upcycling", and dear old Constance called it "survival".

Because really, who are we fooling? I'm not saying there are no useful skills that come from being crafty, I'm just saying it's something we can't claim to do out of necessity anymore.  Gone are the days when it was cheaper to sew all your own clothes than to buy them from a store.  And if we're being honest, I question the structural integrity of that bed frame you found by a dumpster and refurbished.

There seems to be an unofficial contest of who will be the world's chicest DIY-er but spoiler alert, the prize is nothing. The person beating down my door to applaud my tissue tassel garlands and bottle art is named Nobody and he brought none of his friends. "The moment I saw her make her own chalkboard paint, I had to have her hand in marriage," said no one, ever.

(Not that that's what I'm looking for. In fact, that would be a super weird reason for a proposal.)

Yet onward sails the good ship Handmade, with me at the helm. "Avast ye naysayers! I shall craft on! IT SOOTHES ME."

And so I do. Enabled every step of the way by Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Pinterest, and positive feedback from you, my dear readers.

Just don't let it go to my head, ok? Keep me humble, Internet. And if we happen to be out shopping together, maybe keep me away from the craft stores.

In the meantime, if anyone needs me, I'll be over here bedazzling a sweatshirt by the flickering light of a taper in an old wine bottle.


  1. Oh man- I love this post! Constance.
    Long live Hobby Lobby!!!
    (ps- I was a crafter before crafting was cool. In fact, I'm much less of a crafter now than I was then. But I still love it!)

  2. As a recent discover of Pinterest, I have to agree. Man, it's addictive. The bonus is it's incredibly hard to find a decent craft store in Switzerland, at decent prices. Thus preventing me from throwing myself fully into the fray. (Oh yes, that and having two wee gals to attend to.)

  3. Haha! So this is how I find out that my sister is a new addict of Pinterest! (see above!) ;) Yes...not too many options for craft stores here in Haiti but that didn't stop me from bringing enough sock warn with me to knit 4 pairs of socks and a new cross stitch kit to start when I run out of yarn! heheheh!


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