Art Week DIY: Making This Etsy-Ass Wall Hanging Was Actually A Joy
By nature, I’m bad at “crafts.” DIY projects that look intriguing and easy to execute are often the very opposite, involving a rudimentary understanding of needle-nosed pliers and an eye for color. The mantle of my parents’ house is littered with the various clay thumb pots I made as a child, lumpy and misshapen. IKEA furniture assembly, the closest thing to a DIY that most adults touch, is usually put together by a trusted confidant who instructs me on which Allen wrench they need. I knit, but only learned to do so successfully after arguments with the friend who taught me led to a contract that we drew up, promising not to argue with each other about knitting or The New Yorker. We both signed it; we had a witness.
The impulse to sit down and make something with my hands is always there, though. I like the notion of beautiful objects. My home decor is a worrisome combination of piles of books and things I found on the street for free, like a used bookstore that also happens to have a bed in the back. This year, I’ve decided to lean in to my home life. Surround yourself with beauty and maybe some part of that beauty will trickle into your everyday. My interiors are not beautiful. They are crowded and often full of errant clumps of cat hair and the detritus of a life with 3 roommates and one bathroom.
DIY projects have always struck me as a way of taking control over parts of your life that are lacking. There’s pleasure in surrounding yourself with objects of beauty, however you define that for yourself. What I’ve chosen to surround myself with — books, piles of clothing, a bag of pants that don’t fit and my best friend’s bathing suit that he left at my house two summers ago — is not beautiful. This is my attempt to make something beautiful.
Almost Makes Perfect appears to be a lifestyle blog created by a beautiful person in L.A. with a beautiful husband and a beautiful apartment full of beautiful things. Every single project on her site looks like it would cost $700 at Anthropologie, in the best possible way. After spending an hour grinding my jaw and scrolling through DIY after DIY, I found something that seemed so simple that there’d be no way I could mess it up: this “marble moon phase wall hanging”.
I gathered my materials and fortified my nerves with my two favorite things: weed and the Hamilton soundtrack. Praying that my roommates would not walk into my apartment to the smell of marijuana and the sweet sounds of my gentle singing to Lin-Manuel Miranda, I went in.
The instructions are simple. All you do is get a big hunk of clay, stick some other teeny bits of clay in contrasting colors to it, and smush it all around until you have something that looks decent. Because my two favorite things — weed and Hamilton — put me in a happy place, I sadly did not get any process shots of my stubby hands smushing the clay together. Once you have a ball of clay, flatten it out with a rolling pin or a wine bottle, or your hands or a pint glass that you found in the sink. Then cut the shapes out, poke some holes in them, toss ‘em in the oven for about 15 minutes, and you’re good to go.
Twist: this is the easiest fucking DIY project I could’ve picked. You really can’t screw it up. Emboldened by my success, I spent a large part of my Sunday indulging my inner potter goddess, the one that doesn’t pluck the two wiry grey hairs that live in her bangs and painstakingly adorns her gnarled fingers with vintage turquoise.
Such striation. What a command of color. Surely, this is my calling. I am now content that I’ve found my life’s work – making fake marble wall hangings out of polymer clay and displaying them prominently in my home.
The final product hangs in a strange corner of my room, above an IKEA side table that didn’t fit in our living room and now contains a box of expired condoms and some broken headphones. It classes up the joint and surprisingly, it wasn’t the worst way to spend a Sunday. I’m reluctant to call any activity I partake in as self-care; the term sets my teeth on edge. It’s too precious a phrase to describe the very real and visceral act of taking care of yourself. This activity — three simple hours spent fuzzy from weed flattening balls of clay — felt like I was doing exactly what I needed for myself that day. It was worth every minute.
Image via Almost Makes Perfect