“I feel like I might have been better at crafting when I was 9,” Stanley said.
“If you were a craft project,” I asked them, “what craft project would you be?”
Stanley said she’d be a quilt, and Gay said she’d be metalsmithing. Guttman said she’d be a room-sized installation decoupage of breasts. Guttman has a traumatic brain injury due to a car accident when she was a teenager. She was in a coma for several months, and when she awoke, she had to relearn such basic skills as walking and talking, and she lives with ongoing health problems. Her art is often about the body. For her Christmas ornament, she transformed a 25-cent star-shaped wood cutout into a go-go dancer with knee-high boots.
In the Simple Times chapter “Handicraftable,” Sedaris offers a range of crafts for people living with all manner of physical and mental challenges, from attention deficit disorder, autism, and multiple personality disorder to wheelchair users, “angry” people, and those with an outright aversion to crafting. Serious crafters beware: Sedaris also includes a subsection on crafting under the influence of drugs and alcohol, especially marijuana, a practice she advocates in the book’s acknowledgment section.
Guttman, who reminded us several times that she’d forgotten to take her ADD medication that day, flipped through Simple Times while we worked on the photo album. “This book is great,” she said. “It’s not offensive — it’s hilarious. But it’s not really a craft book. You wouldn’t read this to learn how to craft. I want to make something now. Your ornament looks like a pomegranate.” “Thanks,” I said, “I’m going to put more jewels on it.” At the end of the day, some of what we made was aesthetically pleasing and some of it was lumpy and ugly and gloppy to the touch. Sedaris’ approach might be scattered and messy, but with her as our guide, we had a great time, and I now have ideas for more crafts, some of which I might keep for myself. Next on my list: Popsicle-stick picture frames for all the Frida Kahlo postcards I’ve collected over the years. I need to buy more glitter.