Tag Archives: wooden spoons

What are you so afraid of?

1 May

March was National Craft Month, in case you missed it. Just the thought of it still makes thousands salivate over crochet needles and beaded lamp shades. In honor of this month dedicated to my weaknesses, I crafted. After all, I live with a man who handmade sets of wooden spoons and spatulas as Christmas presents for our family and his colleagues.

He cut, designed, and sanded bridal veil wood.

(I made photo albums on Blurb.)

So that the “from both of us” on the card wasn’t a lie, I applied mineral oil to the spoons and vacuumed up the wood shavings from the carpet.

Aaron will point out that he couldn’t have tolerated the tedious nature of organizing, loading, cropping, and designing photo books, but we all know the spoons are more impressive (photo courtesy of my mother-in-law):

Moving on from kitchen utensils, Aaron’s current project is forging steel to make primitive tools for termite excavation. He’ll be splitting logs in the Ecuadorian rainforest at the end of the month to excavate rare and (hopefully) new species of termites.

Wait, now it’s making beehives with dovetailed edges.

I can’t keep up.

But I understand why it’s so easy for my husband to complete these kind of projects and for me to never start them. He loves the process, not the end result. When it comes to challenges, I tolerate the process to get to the end result. At least when it involves things I’m not naturally drawn to, LIKE CRAFTS. But I took on this challenge because I need to fall in love with a process, not just the thing itself.

The Craft: Decoupage Boxes I refused to be intimidated by a good thing. I went full on Martha Stewart.

Mediocre Crafting 101: Eliminate all goals that involve the creation of something people actually want. This is bigger than Etsy. This is humility meets journey. This is acrylic paint meets spray lacquer.

How to decoupage (the noncrafter way):

1. Pick your boxes

I used this box plus two medium cardboard ones. Michael’s was low on wooden inventory and I hadn’t the strength for return trips to the poor man’s craft mecca. It was enough to cope with the fact that I was in a Michael’s on a Friday night.

2. Pick your palette

I used cobalt blue acrylic mixed with white plus the pearlizing agent (it’s supposed to make it shiny, but subtle be thy name). The ratio was about 1:4, white to blue;  and 1:1 paint to pearlizing agent.

3. Paint!

I painted two coats of the not-as-shiny-as-promised paint. While I obsessed over getting the final coat as smooth as possible (and still managed to have bumps), I found the overall act of painting rewarding and soothing.

4. Print & cut out designs

I printed out manatees (and a lone frog) onto silver wrapping paper. It’s easy to smudge, so be careful when removing it from the printer. I cut out each creature and prepped them for gluing.

5. Glue designs down

Gluing my little manatee mascots was satisfying. The frog was easy (and thus looks the best). Living in Florida, manatees are a current theme in our life. It started with a local mailbox, then a birthday present from my sister-in-law, and finally live manatee sightings. The ever faithful frog is a nighttime staple of our evening walks.

6. Spray with lacquer

This step is not in Martha’s instructions, but it does add a bit of shine to the supposedly-pearlized paint. After lacquering, I realized I’d forgotten to fix a glue smudge. This is when it’s helpful to remember nobody wants these boxes.


Professional noncrafter that I am, beginning this project brought on anxiety and resistance (read: procrastination). I wasn’t looking forward to confirming just how bad I was in this field. At the heart of this lived fear. No one’s expecting anything craftastic from me. But what if I do more than accept/make fun of my limitations? What if I kind of try and it’s still embarrassing?

Now I have these boxes you might find in a thrift store, not necessarily because they’re ugly or useless, but because in a couple of years they’re going to become clutter. The kind of clutter Martha would pity me for.

While I have no plans to join the crafting forces of the universe, I realized through this process that I could make something not hideous. I even got excited when I starting gluing the manatees to the boxes; the process gave me satisfaction even though I don’t plan to give the product to anyone. That wasn’t the point.

Comfort is usually a bad indicator of success. If you’re too comfortable, you’re not challenging yourself. If you’re not challenging yourself, you’re ultimately going to become unhappy. I never want to believe this in the middle of challenges but in the end, I come out clearer-headed and wiser every time. Challenge keeps us alive and hungry for more. Complacency deadens our senses and makes us lazy.  This goes for your own field, too.

My real fear is admitting that I want to write something more than this blog. That’s something I hope doesn’t end up at Goodwill one day.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
— Anaïs Nin