Friday, August 6, 2010


While searching through the boxes of junk in my basement the other day during my hunt for some old Archie comic books, I came across a big storage chest full of craft supplies.

Years ago, my mother and I spent countless hours making crafts and selling them at craft fairs. We were always trying to come up with new and innovative ways to turn everyday items into craft masterpieces.

“I’m going to make a turkey out of pine cones!” Mom would call me and say. “It will look great on someone’s Thanksgiving table!”

“And I’m going to make hobnail vases by gluing split peas onto empty jars and then painting them with white glossy paint!” I’d answer.

If I learned anything while making and selling crafts, it was that if I had to charge for all of the hours I spent making them, my clothespin reindeer and acorn lapel pins would have sold for about $750 each instead of only $1.

And I hate to admit it, but nothing was safe during my craft-making period. I’d gasp in horror if my husband tossed out trash of any kind. I was certain I could transform an empty milk carton or Sears catalog into something so awe-inspiring, people at the craft fairs would be crowding around my table and tossing money at me.

After I found my container of craft supplies, I got the urge to make crafts again. My box of goodies contained materials for plaques, magnets, clothespin dolls, Christmas decorations and much more. I was eager to dig into them and allow my creativity to flow.

But before I began, I contacted my sister-in-law, who travels all over the state doing craft fairs, and asked her if I might be able to do one with her. I figured there was no sense spending countless hours making pipe-cleaner candy canes if I had no place to sell them. From her list of upcoming fairs, I chose the one at Pembroke Congregational Church on October 16.

I soon discovered that things had changed since my last craft fair about 10 years ago. For one thing, my fingers are a lot stiffer now than they used to be. I sat down to make my formerly popular cat magnets the other night and it took me over three hours to complete just one.

“So, how many magnets did you make?” my husband asked when I finally emerged from my office. “I haven’t seen you all night!”

“One,” I answered, showing him the finished product. The poor cat looked as if it had been involved in some horribly disfiguring accident.

“Um, that’s…not too bad,” he said, forcing a weak smile. “How much are you going to charge for each one?”

“A dollar,” I said.

He looked thoughtful for a moment. “So that means if you make 10 of these at three hours each, you’ll be working 30 hours for only 10 bucks?”

“Well, when you put it that way, you make it sound terrible. Making crafts is fun and relaxing!”

Believe me, making that cat magnet had been anything but fun and relaxing. I’d had to repaint every part of him at least a dozen times, mainly because I couldn’t even paint a straight line. One of his eyes was up somewhere near his ear, and the other was down around his chin. His whiskers came out so shaky, they looked as if there’d been an earthquake while I was painting them. And then there were the numerous fingerprints of previous paint colors I’d used, constantly appearing on the parts I’d freshly painted. By the time I was done concealing all of my mistakes, the magnet about 25 layers of paint on it.

I called that darned cat so many names while working on him, it’s a wonder his pointed little gray ears didn’t fall off. Actually, they were about the only things that didn’t fall off. That’s because, as I discovered while searching for its tail under my desk for the third time, 10-year-old Elmer’s glue doesn’t stick all that well.

So the way I have it figured, by the time the craft fair on October 16 rolls around, I’ll have spent about 265 hours making crafts.

And if I’m lucky enough to sell all of them, I’ll earn about $85.