My love for pinup dresses and retro makeup is a relatively new development compared to my lifelong affair with crafting. My great-aunt taught me how to crochet when I was in 3rd grade and my mom showed me to use the sewing machine not long after that. My skill set has not advanced much since those days, but my passion for crafting is huge and I try to make a little something every day.
So, of course, my friends and family couldn’t wait to tell me about a brand new show on TLC called Craft Wars, with a plot best summarized by my mother: “They have people craft, and the prize is $10,000, and the host is that girl, what’s her name…from that show about the high school, the skinny kid…the one who’s pregnant all the time…Lori Spelling?” (Yes, I know it’s Tori, but why spoil her fun?).
Here’s how it works: first they introduce three crafters, who excitedly talk about their work and show examples of their favorite glitter-encrusted birdhouses and bedazzled socks. Then they introduce the judges, and most importantly, the gorgeous, colorful “Michael’s Craft Wall” which is what I envision my living room will look like in heaven. Then Lori/Tori presents the first challenge: “Use this stack of paint samples to create a child-size designer handbag that Suri Cruise would be proud to carry on the red carpet. You have ONE HOUR.”
Maybe I’m the world’s slowest crafter, but most of my projects begin with AT LEAST two hours of staring at my fabric stash, pawing through supply drawers, flipping through craft books & magazines, sketching, watching TV, and playing Bejeweled (to give my brain a rest, y’know). During the challenge, Lori/Tori walks around and chides the crafters for using hot glue (“it leaves glue strings”) and telling them how worried she is that they won’t finish in time. When the hour comes to an end, the judges then scold the crafters because their projects don’t look “finished.” Uhhhh…yeah.
After eliminating one stunned crafter, the final challenge is then presented, generally something like “Use these plastic spoons to construct a full-size college dorm room. You have FIVE HOURS.” You may have gotten selected for the show based on your ability to knit or sew or paint, but now you have less than half a day to construct functional patio furniture out of old pool toys, and it better be comfortable and support up to 300 lbs without wobbling or you are OUT. I love to observe the creative process, especially when limited supplies bring out the wildest ideas, but this just feels like setting talented people up to fail.
Don’t get me wrong, the show isn’t all bad. Here are some elements I really like:
1) Hot Glue is the Devil: Despite kicking off each episode with “Fire up your glue guns, this is Craft Wars,” every glue gun user winds up in trouble, and this makes me happy. I hate glue guns. The strings do get everywhere, the final result is rarely permanent, and I always wind up burning myself and getting melted glue all over the table. On the very first episode, when a contestant was told that sewing is a MUCH better attachment method, I jumped up and high-fived myself. On Planet Pinup, sewing is the only way to go – even the clips and locking pins are hand-stitched onto every handmade flower. Yes, it takes longer, which is why someone who only had one hour might use glue, but in real life it’s worth the time and effort. And now it’s been declared superior on national television, by none other than Lori Spelling herself. Vindication!
2) Experienced Crafters Know Things: On episode 3, one of the contestants demonstrated how to use aluminum foil as a quick, easy way to sharpen a dull paper punch. Genius!! Most of the time, the show edits out the complicated construction techniques, giving more airtime to the amusing mistakes and pratfalls that draw in viewers who enjoy snickering at the foibles of others (for example: me). But on each episode, they manage to work in at few fun techniques & ideas that everyday crafters can use at home.
3) Anything is Possible: If someone told me I had 5 hours to construct patio furniture, I’d spend about 4 of those hours laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all. But these crafters are in it to win it – with no time to panic or complain, they dive right in and DO IT. Even though the results are rough around the edges, what they accomplish is pretty amazing. This makes me realize how much time I waste shopping for the perfect ribbon, procrastinating because I’m not sure how to begin, and how many things I don’t even attempt out of the fear that it won’t be perfect. I could be doing so much more with the limited time I have available!
The bottom line is, inspiration can come from anywhere – even a poorly edited, completely unfair reality show. Tune in for the guilty pleasure, but keep your mind open because you never know when the next great idea may strike! Be confident, be creative, use what you have, and always have fun. It’s the Planet Pinup way!