Five Ways Something Ruined My Life Five Ways Arts & Crafts Ruined My Life Erin Mallory Long

Glue guns, pipe cleaners, glitter, those little mini pompoms, crayons, rubber stamps: these were my gateway drugs. I’ve realized recently that I can’t only blame TV shows and movies for ruining my life. Something must also be done about the extracurricular activities that ruined my life throughout the years. (“Extracurricular” means “what you do besides watch TV” right?)

Well, it’s time to come clean. It’s time to admit that I have a problem. I have an ever-evolving and time-consuming addiction… to arts and crafts.

Crafting ruined my life because:

1. It Occupies All My Free Time

So, here’s the thing – hobbies are supposed to keep you occupied when you have free time, right? And act sort of as a pleasant escape from real responsibilities or whatever. Well, what about when your hobbies start taking over your life and you become obsessed with finishing craft projects and immediately starting new ones and learning that new craft you’ve suddenly noticed all over Etsy?

That’s when you’re hitting my level.

When I was a kid, I was always making my own greeting cards or decorating blank POGs. As a teenager, I was always making collages. I started learning how to knit when I was about 8 but didn’t pick it up again steadily until I was 22 or so.  There was a point the first winter I was knitting again where I would finish a project and immediately start a new one. “Oh, do you want a scarf? Great! Let me make you one!” “No, it’s fine, I just finished a hat so a pair of fingerless mittens will be great to do!” And on and on it would go.

Lately, I’ve been on a cross-stitch kick.

The problem is that sometimes it gets too overwhelming. Sometimes I can’t finish something and start a new thing just for a change and then I end up with drawers full of half-finished projects and they just sit there, taunting me. If I’m not making something, I’m obsessively planning something to make or deciding to try a new craft.

Hmm, I would love to get into screen printing…

2. I Ridiculously Think I Can Make Anything

Besides my clearly obsessive personality traits, I’m also horribly competitive. This manifests itself both internally and also externally when I want everyone to know I’m awesome at Skee-ball.

As a result, I sometimes think I can do anything related to crafts. I’m not as ambitious with my crafting as my BFF, Anna, but I still sometimes get cocky and think, “Psh, why would I spend money on that? I can MAKE IT MYSELF!”

The most egregious example of this was probably my wedding. I don’t really like cut flowers (I don’t know – I also don’t like chocolate, so my mom is always confused about where I came from) so when it came time to plan the wedding, I decided I wanted some kind of fabric flowers instead. So I immediately turned to my BFF and Maid of Honor extraordinaire to come up with a plan.

We decided we’d opt for felt and so, with some Styrofoam cylinders, dowels and a whole lot of glue gun glue, we made fabric bouquets for all the girls in the wedding. The hours leading up to the rehearsal dinner when I should have been like, relaxing or getting a manicure or just dreaming about the wedding, I was ripping hot glue off my fingers and stressing about the placement of ribbons.

Was this super time consuming and stress-inducing for me? Yes.  Was it totally worth it because they came out looking awesome? Double yes.
3. It Made Me Into a HoarderAs a self-proclaimed obsessive and someone who spends too much money on crafting, I OBVIOUSLY have way to many crafting supplies in my apartment. There’s a giant container of yarn in one closet, two plastic drawer things filled with supplies under my desk, containers of buttons everywhere and a bunch of books on crafting techniques on my book cases.

But on top of that I always think, “Oh, I better save that for a project.” I never have a project in mind, I just think one day that weird bag of doodads I found in my building’s lobby will be the CRUCIAL ingredient to some craft I want to make. I have a giant bag of what was once Neat and Useful Pieces of Fabric (when I was in a Sewing Aprons phase) that has now devolved into Bag Of Random Scraps of Fabric That Won’t Work For Anything.

I don’t think I have to worry until it flows noticeably into my living space though, right?

4. It Drains My Bank Account

Being someone who enjoys crafting means I’m always trying to improve my skills (or find a new craft I’m better at). So I’m always shopping for new embroidery hoops or decorative frames or even something as silly as prettier embroidery floss. Luckily, right now, my endeavors are pretty inexpensive but who knows, I might actually pick up screen printing and then this is going to be a big deal.

Clearly, I’ve always been interested in making things for myself.

But what I realized back in 2007 was that I was ALSO interested in buying things that other people had made. This is what happened when I was introduced to Etsy. I realized there was a whole world of people who also spent all of THEIR free time making things and I was sold. A few weeks on the site and I had in my possession some glow-in-the-dark dino earrings, a necklace that said “Erin Go Bragh” on one side with a mirror on the other and a lariat necklace with hand cuffs and a gun. I was intensely happy about this but my bank account was not.

5. It Makes People Think I Want to Make Useful Things, As Well

I don’t want anyone to have the wrong idea about my crafting habits. I love making household items for others and even myself, occasionally. Stuff you can hang on the wall, the aforementioned aprons (I once made all my roommates in college laminated collage placemats). But basically, I don’t have any interest in sewing clothes for myself to wear on a regular basis or making candles or soap or anything too USEFUL.

I’m into crafting and making things as an added bonus to life and not something I have to do to be able to survive. So while I appreciate going to somewhere like Colonial Williamsburg and watching how people used to make their own candles, it just bums me out. I want to make stuff that you don’t NEED but that you WANT. Or just stuff that no one would want but I’m entertained by.

Basically, I’m the girl to come to if you want a shrinky dink necklace that says “I want to go to there” on it (which I made for a friend’s 25th birthday a couple years ago).

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  1. I finally got rid of my bin of fabric all never use and have been liquidating a lot of my crafting supplies as I noticed I’m became a bit of a hoarder too. I totally know your pain! Sadly making stuff is sort of an addiction for me. But I’m trying to take my time to really learn something that I think is worth my free time instead of trying every craft out there.

  2. Haha! I make things as a job … it’s ridiculous. I was telling a friend last week that my entire life is just preparing for one big theatrical emergency. I’m one of those people who thinks I can make anything, and while I can make lots of things (even things I didn’t know I could make,) it’s usually time that gets in the way. Love this.

  3. You’re killing me! Seriously on the floor right now! BTW, LOVE LOVE LOVE that photo…….Um, you need to get The Big Ass Book of Crafts 2. It hit the shelves last October. Love, Mark Montano the Big Ass author.

  4. I didn’t even realize I was at this level in my appreciation for arts and crafts until I read this. It’s kinda funny! But so accurate.

  5. This is me. I have so many different crafty projects started–from crocheting to sewing to jewelry-making that there is no possible way to keep track of what I’m doing. And as soon as I start doing something for profit or others, I’m over it.So, what do we do?!

  6. Oh. my. god. It’s like you wrote an entire blog post while magically connected to my brain. I have to defend my craft supplies hoarding to my husband all the time. I made all 12 of my bridesmaid’s dresses, plus all the corsages, my own dress, and all of the bouquets. Why? Because of rule number 2. This is just too close to home, hahaha!

  7. I haven’t gotten this stage yet, but I’m eerily close haha. I love arts and crafts!

  8. I’ve been making the crafter/hoarder connection for a while now…when my place of work had a fire, it meant I got all the fabric remnants, pieces of old costumes and parts of costume jewelry. Fortunately my roommate moved out, so all this stuff has a place to go.

  9. My weakness is the remnant section at hancock’s fabric. Every time I find a cast off yard of upholstery fabric (for only $4!) I have to get it. I swear I will learn how to reupholster those seats of those chairs I bought. And anytime yarn is on sale I hoard that too. I’m finally making actual items out of all the jewelry supplies and vintage costume jewelry I have and selling them on etsy. So that makes me feel slightly better about spending hours at hobby lobby and michael’s. But my craft closet is still exploding. Oh! And I have tons of those cute knobs that I’m totally going to put on my dresser when I re-paint it…someday.

  10. Oh girl, I hear you!! I too refuse to buy anything I think I can make myself (including furniture?!) and my 2 year old is my guinea pig for all of my “cool” upcycled clothing attempts-she’s the one wearing sweater leggings with a racer back green day tank that I lovingly cut into a dress. At this moment I have no less than 17 glittered plastic dinosaurs with conversation hearts hot glued to them that I had every intention of selling on ebay. They are resting on the shelf of my china cabinet, right next to a chalk board painted lamp (no shade) and my big jar of crepe paper flowers. Oh yeah, I’ve got plans for those of course!! I could go on, but I’m getting antsy looking at my big huge bag of discarded clothes I’ve collected to make into pajamas & headband for my little girl (notice there is no photographic proof that I am making her wear this stuff-I need her to care for me when I get old and don’t want to self-incriminate!). One more thing before I go, I have the gift of relating just about any event in life to an episode of Friends. Well, keep up the awesome work, girl, you make me smile : )

  11. wow..this sounds eerily similar to someone i know (myself) should we start a support group or a crafting group? I just learned how to crochet the granny square and now I can’t stop doing it! Awesomeness or obsession?

    Anonymous | 2/10/2012 11:02 am
  12. wow..this sounds eerily similar to someone i know (myself) should we start a support group or a crafting group? I just learned how to crochet the granny square and now I can’t stop doing it! Awesomeness or obsession?

    Anonymous | 2/10/2012 11:02 am
  13. AAAH where do you put yarn?! I asked for yarn 2 Christmass’ ago and went from a tasteful rattan basket, tucked quietly under our bed to 3 tattered cardboard boxes under the bed and a hide-a-way nightstand filled with mostly Red Heart yarn. I tell myself I’m going to make an epic granny square blanket, but every time I have time, I want to do something, you know, cool (like a hat, or a rad tea cozy) and instantly gratifying. In regards to hoarding, ugh, my greatest shame is the Thanksgiving I collected toilet rolls (TOILET ROLLS!) for like, 3 months before, for the purpose of making I dunno, woodsy logs filled with candy or whatever (name placers?). Needless to say, my shame was in the recycling bin that Friday. :C

  14. totally agree! thanks for putting these 5 ways together! it happens exactly to me!

  15. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. As I write this, I am making a list of pop culture-related embroidery projects that I will probably never finish.

  16. My aunt took the pictures in that book! Woohoo Auxy Espinosa!