Crafting, Sedaris Style! – “Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People” by Amy Sedaris

Amy Sedaris is infamous for her irreverence, which is exactly the thing that makes her so delightful.  She’s as likely to appear on Martha Stewart showing the world her famous recipe for cheeseballs as she is to walk onstage at David Letterman in a ball gown.  She’s messy and not always politically correct, and does it all with such irony and smartness that she’ll make your head spin even while she’s cracking you up.

I have a girl-crush on her, if you can’t tell.

My dear friend Bob’s birthday was in mid-November, and knowing how much he’d enjoyed her previous book, “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence,” I decided the best possible present for him was Sedaris’ latest book, “Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.”  He loved it, and we immediately started making plans for a “Simple Times” craft night to test the book out.

After all, you know my philosophy – Craft books need to be tested.

It all began with the best of intentions, truly.  We made a master plan to pick a few of the projects in the book and test them out.  After a stressful Friday at work, Bob arrived at our apartment armed with popsicle sticks, pipecleaners, Elmer’s Glue, glitter, and a bag of M&Ms. (“I went to two Walgreens – Nobody had googly eyes. So we’re using M&Ms.”) My husband and I had gathered toothpicks, tin foil, and a few other supplies.  Dinner was prepared, and there was pie and wine.

Once foodstuffs had been consumed, we eagerly dove into the book.

Project #1 – Marshmallow Stars

Essentially Marshmallows on strings with toothpicks covered in glitter stuck into them, these seemed easy enough.

However, if you’ve ever actually tried to get a needle and thread through a marshmallow, it’s a sticky mess. Add into that glue-soaked toothpicks which need to somehow get coated in glitter, and you’ve got a bit of a train wreck.

All that said, the end results were actually kind of adorable and are actually hanging on our tree right now.

Project #2: Penny Bookmark.

Easy breezy and quite adorable – You take a footlong piece of packing tape, and 26 pennies (unless you’re us and somehow wind up with 22, and then you deal with it and only use 22) and you lay them out then fold the tape over the pennies, making a durable and totally practical bookmark.  I needed a new bookmark anyway, so I was ecstatic.

(You can’t tell, but the book I’m holding is “Prairie Tale” by Melissa Gilbert, a gift from Bob that I can’t wait to read.)

It was around this time that we started to go a little nuts, and started making things that were more inspired by the book than actually found in the book.  I blame it all on the lack of googly eyes.  Clearly, it had nothing to do with the wine and/or martinis.

The dudes below were created – and I think they’re rather brilliant.

However, we tried to build the orange-armed man a car and, as you can see, he started to fall apart.  Though the M&M in the below picture looks like it’s falling off, in reality it held on by a single strand of glue for quite a long time before the whole thing eventually just gave in.  Impressive.

One of the projects in the book is called the “Diabolical Tin Foil Bracelet.”  Bob decided to try it, but added some marshmallow adornments of his own.  He’s a fashion icon, I tell you.

If you know Amy Sedaris’ work, you know that on more than one occasion, taping one’s nose has become a thing.  Here, we pay tribute to La Sedaris, while simultaneously learning that a) packing tape smells bad, and b) packing tape works like a pore strip. (“Pore Strips for Poor People!”)

Inspired by an image of Sedaris and book co-author Paul Dinello with tin foil alien hats on, we made our own.  Mine turned out more Norma Desmond than alien, but hey.

Bob’s glasses, if you’re wondering, are made out of pipecleaners.

And  yes, those are marshmallow eyes.

The book is a complete blast, filled to the brim with ideas for random crafts.  Some of them (like the Donut Squirrel Feeder) are ridiculous in their trashiness, but some (like the Tin-Can Stilts) are actually really clever.  Several recipes from her previous book are worked in as well – namely chocolatey baked good type recipes, which are always good.  There are sections on crafts for Jesus, crafts for the disabled, How to avoid crafting accidents, and even a helpful sex guide squeezed in.  It’s pure, chaotic, silliness.

By the end of the evening, I was wearing a tin foil turban on my head and a bracelet made of pipecleaners and marshmallows.  My sides hurt from laughing so hard, and my cats were terrified of the crazy people screaming with laughter in the dining room.

Hands down, this book gets my ringing endorsement for most fun you can have with a book this year.

Done and Done.

In conclusion, I can only quote my dear Bob, who described Amy Sedaris as a “wacked wackadee-doodle.”

That is absolutely a compliment. One hundred percent.

For more fun, check out this hilarious Letterman appearance!


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on December 11, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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