As a devotee to the modern craft movement, I see a lot of handmade items. Most of my day is spent researching what’s out there, writing about it, or making my own. Over time I have developed biases, and those have evolved into pet peeves. Get your mushy tomatoes and vuvuzelas ready.
1. The Screen Printed Onesie – Ok, time to start hurling your mushy, three-week-old organic tomatoes at me. Sorry, I said it, its out there: I absolutely hate the white, flimsy, cotton onesies sporting a novelty ‘baby’ graphic. I use the word ‘baby’ here as a style, not an actual child. The fact that ‘baby’ is an established marketing tool generating major cash instead of a noun which refers to a newly born human being annoys me. The Crafster Onesie is merely an itchy boil on the chicken-pox covered leg of a culture where spending has become downright obligatory. Point of contention number two is on the grounds of impracticality. Call me crazy, but isn’t this essentially a disposable item? How many times can the stains be Oxy-Cleaned out of this garment before a baby outgrows it? If you find a cute one for five bucks, go crazy. But when you find yourself at the changing table in the Whole Foods restroom struggling to get that adorable Che Guevara suit off your tortured infant, don’t say Fash reMash didn’t warn you.
2. Scrabble Tile Pendants – Be it good or bad, we live in a time of chemicals. Man made polymers and plastics surround us 24 hours a day. This is a serious bummer in every aspect of life except one: glue. The range of adhesives available to the average craftster is mind boggling. For the most part, anything can be effectively glued to anything else and sealed for a lasting finish. So why would I even consider purchasing an image glued to a tiny, 1″x1″ game piece that is sealed in resin, one of the most caustic substances known to the human eye, nose and throat? Unless it came from the solid gold (literally) Scrabble collection, I can use Elmer’s to put a picture onto a Boggle dye and save $20.
3. Metal Stamped with Words – I am a huge fan of metalwork, in general. The offender I am mentioning here is a very specific yet ubiquitous style of jewelry which features a handful of small, usually round, metal charms stamped with things like “LOVE” and “PEACE” and strung on silver chain. These are the candy hearts of the craft world. No one talks about making these generic treasures with their friends or will ever find them in a trendy boutique. Yet the sales are through the roof. Those charming little buggers are everywhere, yet no one particularly loves the taste. I guess this is a case of winning through what something is not: this look isn’t quite cheesy enough to garner an immediate eye-roll or original enough to shock the senses of a relative stranger for which an obligatory gift is required (see ‘baby’ in item 1). As an artist myself, I must admit that when I see the typical cutesy messages on the plainest flavor of all metals, sterling silver, I die a little inside. Now if I spotted a charm done in aged copper that said “DIE” on it that’s a different story.
4. Hot-Fix Crystals – The label may say Swarovski, but it’s all Bedazzling to me. Minimalism is a wonderful thing, and doesn’t require flat-back, glue-on rhinestones; a win-win situation for all craft lovers over age six.
5. The Book Purse – Fabulous to make, tragic to buy. My issue lies in construction. Although it may look fab, the very best hardcover-book purse offers little durability. Reliable, highly-rated patterns use little more than an old book, scrap fabric, glue, and a set of clunky plastic purse handles from Jo-Anne Fabrics. Ok, maybe someone has a display of these in their booth at the street fair with clever, novelty covers, like Nancy Drew or 1950s cookbooks that would draw me in like a moth to flame. The Book Purse can be done well. In my opinion, however, this is a craft that falls into the category “for best results, do-it-yourself.” It will take an afternoon at the most, and you’ll have the bonus of owning the spare glue, fabric and embellishments for when the originals fall apart. Because a bag made from cardboard, fabric and glue will fall apart. Sadly not even technological breakthroughs in cold fusion can give long lifespan to the Book Purse. Not for those looking for a low-maintenance accessory.