Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blast from the Past: Crafty Conclusions

(originally published April 2006 on the now-defunct

I have more than a dozen UFOs from the constellation Craftia hiding in my closet, wondering when I will finally let them see the light of day. These UnFinished Objects are in various stages of completion- I’m hoping that highlighting some of them in this article will jog me into going back and finishing them.

First came Herkimer Mouse, an adorable little grey fella with a bright red sweater, hands clasped in prayer (or was he pleading “Please finish embroidering me...Please!!”). Bought for the miserly price of $1.20 from the clearance bin at a JoAnn Fabrics store in a galaxy far away, he was just awaiting finishing touches such as the whiskers and the twinkle in his eye to make him complete. What to do with the finished project? He clashes with the d├ęcor in my kids’ rooms. He looks too prayerful to fit in the office, family, living or dining rooms. He would stand out like a sore thumb in the puja cupboard, although placing him next to Ganesha, whose vehicle is a rodent, might not be such an outlandish idea. I give up --. Herkimer is going up for adoption, free to the first reader who would like to have him. Or if there are no takers, I will drop him off as an anonymous donation at the local Church.

Being quite the knitting aficionado, I embarked on Barbara W’s Learn to Knit afghan with the enthusiasm of the convert, eager to learn all the nuances of knitting technique. Her 63 block afghan, I was convinced, would immeasurably improve my knitting skills and send me straight to Knitting Nirvana. I badgered my husband to let me piggyback the book onto his order rather than go through the hassle of borrowing it repeatedly from the library. Triumphantly thumbing through my new copy of the book, I quickly got through squares 3, 4, 5…6……7……..8…….9……….10. The afghan squares rest in a dusty basket, stuck at square 11 in the series, patiently awaiting my return some day. I may even be able to finish it as a gift in time for my 6th grader’s high school graduation.

Next came Salley M’s Wee folk, made of pipecleaners, felt clothes, wrapped embroidery floss and beads with painted faces, cotton or yarn for hair. Who wouldn’t be charmed by the glorious full-color photos of armies of flower fairies and wee folk with acorn cap hats in her book! This fad had me trudging through 5 inches of snow to dig out sad little acorn caps under our oaks. In the first flurry of enthusiasm, I came up with a miniature doll dressed in bright orange felt, black yarn for hair and my daughter promptly dubbed her the “Japanese doll” for the Oriental slant to her eyes. A tiny Santa Claus , considerably leaner than normal, became a craft magnet on my fridge. A large flower fairy doll greets me daily next to potted plants on my kitchen window sill. I grew more ambitious, visions of demand for my handmade creations burgeoning from my friends. I was going to make several mini-Krishnas and see how the concept caught on. This called for an investment in assorted wooden beads, craft paint, doll’s hair and felt pieces. I got as far as painting three Krishna/Rama faces with varying degrees of success… and stopped. My favorite sewing needle was needed to complete some long-pending darning and had to be taken away from this promising cottage industry.

Enthused by the brochure sent out by the local community college, I signed up for a non-credit course on beginning watercolors. My instructor turned out be a most eclectic gentleman whose primary credo was – “Anything goes, even it looks like the discombobulated efforts of a 2 year old elephant. ” In fact, he was highly impressed by the photos of elephant artists and Koko the gorilla painting that I managed to locate for his edification. “That’s the true artistic spirit!” he announced to the class, a sea of white haired heads with a lone dark spot. I was too timid to admit that my personal tastes ran more to Thomas Kinkade style English cottages and flower gardens dripping with nostalgia and artful lighting. I attempted a few insipid trial paintings before coming up with my piece de resistance (according to my instructor, at least!) - a mysterious-looking and colorful painting of a cross legged man in the forefront, with a menacing cloaked figure in the background. This was my MoMA-worthy ‘interpretation’ of a National Geographic photo of some Afghan rebel smoking a cigarette in a desert, with his burqa-ed wife in the distance. Next, fired up by the instructor’s assertion that living creatures are among the best subjects for a stunning composition, I identified an old blurry photo of nestlings with wide open mouths as my next subject. Having sketched the picture, I got as far as painting a few underwashes of yellow, brown and green before I abandoned the project due to lack of interest in the subject.

On to the next fad. I flirted with crochet, quilting, pottery, decoupage, paper crafting…. The list goes on, and each time produced more UFOs to reside in my closet. Trying to get this craftmania under control, I put myself through the 12-step Craftaholics Anonymous process. I’m currently at the stage where I’m reduced to ooohing and aaahing over the lovely pictures in books from my local library, without being able to actually try them out (part of the self-control techniques needed to get out of the addiction). So many crafts, so little time!


Some kind doctor is going to issue an online diagnosis of adult ADHD and send me a prescription for Ritalin or whatever drug it is that is currently not on the FDA blacklist for causing potential strokes or heart attacks.

That grand old lady of Television Craftdom, or Carol “Kizhavi” (‘old woman’ in Tamil), as my friend Pankajam maami likes to call her, will give me a call to appear on her show as a craftaholic par excellence.

My kid’s school is going to receive a huge donation of assorted art and crafting supplies that have taken over every available room in the house. (My inner craftaholic pipes up in glee “Then I can go out and buy some more!!!”)

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