Craft Fail

When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong, Heather Mann, Workman Publishing.

Craft  Fail  Book  Cover

Pinterest would have you believe that making homemade crafts is easy. “Craft Fail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong” proves otherwise. The book, by craftfail.com founder Heather Mann—a self-described “failure enthusiast”—is a collection of embarrassing, laugh-out-loud funny, and downright pathetic attempts at “getting crafty.” Divided into seven chapters (including Home Décor Fails, Fashion Fails, Holiday Fails, and Food Fails), “Craft Fail” includes over a hundred color photos of craft projects gone awry, each with accompanying commentary describing how and why things went horribly wrong.

Among my favorite fails: the planter (with plaster cast mask) that “resembles the love child of Cookie Monster and cement mixer,” and the woven shirt that inspired Mann to quip: “Edward Scissorhands called. He wants his tank top back.” The various marbled nails fails are also quite spectacular, though Mann insists that the water-marbled manicure “can meet with at least slight success,” if one follows the tips she provides.

Notably, there’s a chapter titled “Martha Made It,” which is dedicated to “anyone who has ever tried a Martha [Stewart] craft and craft failed.” And there’s one devoted to kids’ crafts, which “often don’t turn out as cute as they should.” But it’s clear that craft fails are most commonly food-related, as the book includes more than its share of photos where cake and cupcake batter runneth over, prompting Mann to ask in jest: “Do they make Spanx for cupcake pans?”

It should be emphasized, though, that despite the humor, the book is actually a celebration of the creative process, and vividly illustrates that we learn more from mistakes than we do succeeding from the get-go.

“I don’t want anyone to be discouraged from trying, but instead to be encouraged by the society of creative failers who are brave enough to share their craft blunders,” Mann writes in the Introduction, referring to the individuals who submit their craft fails to craftfail.com.

Personally, I learned two things from “Craft Fail.” First, if one wants to minimize the chance of a craft fail, one should read and heed instructions. The second lesson is perhaps less obvious: Crafting a rainbow-colored <i>anything</i> is almost certain to end in disaster.