Monday, May 14, 2012 2:34 PM EDT
The DIY crafter's tools of the trade. Photo by Meredith Heron.
In my youth, I was always very craft-oriented and generally artistic (for whatever reason, this did not extend to sewing, crushing my Mother’s vision of a Mom/Daughter Sewing Dream Team). Sewing not withstanding I was good at drawing and making things -- I could draw perspective from the age of 5 and I was able to mix and create colours using paints and tints like I had secretly downloaded formulae into my brain. I’m very fortunate to have have been give these talents because they've made me the designer I am today.
Before I became a Designer with a capital “d,” though, I was a Crafter. And as I observe the online trend towards more and more DIY crafts, notably spurred on by Pinterest, I look back at that learning/transitional phase in my life and…I shudder.
My path of craft (which eventually led to design) started with, of all things, flower arrangements — the dead variety. Back in the ’90s, Country Chic was all the rage and there was huge demand for dried flower arrangements (or, as I like to say, Death by Dehydrated Eucalyptus). Armed with a glue gun, I set out to make my fortune and, let me tell you, I have the scars to prove it.
It wasn’t a business model: It was a starving student’s way to afford Christmas presents for her immediate family. But I did something right, because I quickly found myself commissioned to make arrangements and wreaths for non-family members. CHA-CHING!! People would pay me well (at least, from my impoverished perspective): $75 for a wreath that required approx. $40 worth of materials and took 2 hours of my time. This opened doors, and soon I was being asked to pick paint colours, advise people on faux finishes, and so on.
But, as I said above: I shudder at the memory of a lot of this stuff. To a certain extent, I’m still in therapy: Sponge painting! Smooshing (technical paint term)!! Venetian plastering!!! I did it all. My first attempts were…awful. If only I’d kept the photos (actually, probably a good thing I didn’t), but trust me: Country Blue sponge, stamped over white, with matching Cow Border around the middle definitely happened, and I have the 3 a.m. nightmares to prove it.
Despite this heinousosity (Meredith original technical term) of the '90s, I embraced it all, because bucks are bucks, after all. I made sure everything was so coordinated and tied together that people thought I had talent and encouraged me -- and continued to pay me! -- to pursue it. And certainly, modern DIYers should provide comparable dedication to their work. Still, at the very first opportunity, I moved past the aforementioned trends and vowed to never ever let clients make the same mistakes again.
I do hope modern DIYers do the same. I admit, I’m a little jaded when I open up my computer and log in to Pinterest and see this new generation of DIY craft types taking the same road that I once travelled. I have seen untold horrors carried out with Tulle that make sponge painting look like a viable décor option. I also worry that ribbon-trimmed memo boards are going to be the decorator borders of tomorrow.
Speaking of which: We did one for a client’s son’s room. By “we,” I mean our Design intern. Sure, I can DIY, but these days, I choose to DIFM: Do It for Me. My intern’s pretty crafty, though — non?
From left: fabric remnants (I'm a hoarder) + gros grain ribbon = gorgeous; little details, like coloured tacks, can really distinguish a DIY; painstaking alignment of grid & ribbon. Photos by Meredith Heron.
In the end, I’m not saying DIY is a dirty word, but DIY crafters should remember that there are a lot of other words in the design dictionary!
What do you think of Pinterest and the new DIY craft movement?