Mike Brown’s Crafting Disasters

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Photo: Martín Rivero

As I approach my mid-20s, it has become apparent to me that I’m no good at making anything. Luckily, we live in a society where you don’t really have to be good at making anything or doing anything. For anything I would actually need done or made, there’s someone or some company I can hire to do it for me, and everything I possibly need to live my mundane existence is made with the care of tiny child hands in China. The only craft or service I consistently supply for myself, I guess, would be masturbating. I could even pay for that service if I needed to—if it weren’t illegal.

Crafting is functionally irrelevant these days, so I’m OK with being so shitty at it. It’s not like we live like the pioneers—where, if you didn’t know how to make a blanket, you’d freeze to death. If I need to build a bedframe or some shit like that, I’ll just go to IKEA and get one of those kits that make me feel like I actually built a bedframe—even though all I really did was hook together some ill-fitting nuts and screws.

 

Crafting of all kinds is now a simple hobby. If you are a master of your craft, you may be lucky enough to turn your unique productions into some sort of commerce. If you feel like getting off of Pintrest this month and feel like looking at some crafts you can actually smell and touch, the Craft Lake City DIY Festival is a good thing to check out. Needless to say, I won’t be having a booth there anytime soon. But if there ever was a good place Downtown to drink an $8 beer, it would be there.
My lack of creativity and crafting abilities can be traced back to my childhood. I was really good at making sculptures out of food instead of eating it, but that was about it. I liked art time a lot in grade school because it wasn’t math or science, but I never really had a burning desire or passion for art that so many little kids seem to nurture. Besides, growing up in a big Utah Mormon family, there wasn’t much room left on our fridge for my shitty finger paintings.

 

Fast forward to junior high school, probably the worst era of life for most people (but at least you get to choose some of your own classes). If you are a girl, a nancy boy still locked in the closet or just a boy who’s trying to impress chicks, you sign up for home economics. All other jocks and stoners, of course, sign up for shop. Both classes try oh so desperately to hone an adolescent’s crafting skills. But since I’m talking about Utah’s public school system, that rarely happens.

 

Instead, the home economics teacher suffers through countless burnt soufflés while shop teachers worldwide are just giving out A’s to anyone who didn’t spend all semester trying to make a bong and sneaking it past the teacher as a water-based pencil holder. I learned quickly that getting an A in shop class was pretty much a given, and as long as the teacher was patrolling all the stoner kids, these classes provided more of a great time to fuck off than to do any actual school work.
As I headed into high school, I signed up for every recreational class I possibly could. Auto shop proved to be a personal disaster, since I couldn’t turn a wrench to save my life, let alone even know how to pop the hood of my shitty Chevy Blazer. My high school auto shop teacher once asked me if my parents were divorced. When I asked him how he knew that, he just looked at me, dead serious, and said, “You grew up with your mom, didn’t you?” What a sexist fucker.

 

I promptly transferred out of auto shop and signed up for sewing. The sewing teacher was kind and empathetic—or she just didn’t give a shit and hid her loathing for her job and her life behind her kindness. She let me sleep in class every day, using quilt materials as a pillow on my desk, and it took me a whole semester to make a pair of oven mitts that wouldn’t fit a little person’s hands. It’s a good thing that crafted items make the best Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts. Your parents can’t possibly tell you how bad your craft sucks if you made it for them—such a great scam.

 

The next semester, I signed up for wood shop, which I was actually starting to like. The teacher, Mr. Fowler, was drunk all the time, passing off Jagermiester as black coffee in his mug that he was constantly sipping. He was great, too. His safety lesson just consisted of showing us real pictures of kids that had cut off their fingers by not using a table saw properly. I somehow managed to make a cutting board for my mom and a clock that didn’t work for my dad.
I don’t think I’ve actually made anything with my hands since high school. I’ve never had that burning desire to make something awesome out of nothing. It could be a reflection of my overwhelming apathy for life these days. But it’s probably more along the lines of that I just really suck at making stuff.