When Perfection is Impossible: Capturing the Spirit and Calling it a Day

Kid wearing a homemade dragon dance costume.

I think tonight would be a good time to open up a new topic…perfection in craft. Before you gag on your embroidery needle thinking I’m conceited about it, let me just say I love crafts. Specifically, I like doing is pretty much the same stuff I liked in grade school. Applying hot glue to random things, stitching things by hand, spray painting things with metallic colors that couldn’t possibly work with anyone but Warhol’s “look”. I also love crafting kits (particularly those aimed at my skill and enthusiam level – i.e. kids kits) though I often venture off instructions.

This enthusiasm does not mean I’m very good at arts and crafts!  I’m not one to stencil a bureau, arrange silk flowers into a stunning Festivus display or make new drapes out of old bridesmaid dresses–mostly because then people would see my work. I’m not so much into “displaying” my efforts, in general. More power to those who can do this (Martha, you know who you are). I know I am not alone in this lack of confidence — I have seen a lot of crafters (especially women) give up on doing finishing a project just because the results weren’t on par with what they thought they would be 3/4 of the way through the project. To them, I say: Go with it! Finish the project! Even if it’s not what you had in mind, by practicing, you will get there! And at the very least, even if you don’t, you will have *something* to show for it.

This is probably what Benjamin had in mind. Luckily, he's happy with the "Mom-made" version. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.
This is probably what Benjamin had in mind. Luckily, he’s happy with the “Mom-made” version. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

I spent a few hours recently working on a dragon costume for Benjamin that he was begggggging me for (it’s even more bizarre than you think…he wanted a Chinese dragon costume–technically a Chinese lion dance costume–not an easy thing to whip together). Suffice it to say, his costume is cute and in the spirit of the Lion dance–sort of like drugstore knockoff perfume is in the spirit of Chanel #5. 🙂 Probably not going to be mistaken for the real thing but either one would be fun if you were a toddler and didn’t know any better and no one mentioned to you that it stunk.

I think you can agree, an authentic Chinese lion dance costume was not in the cards with Mom at the helm. But that’s okay! Instead of giving Benji perfection, I gave him a dragon dance costume. And this is how.

1) I determined what the essence of the costume is. To Benjamin, he cared most about the shine of it and the big eyes. So that’s what I focused on for his dragon-a-la-Elayne costume.

2) Go budget. I keep my options open as much as possible when “shopping” for the parts because this sort of thing is definitely a “nicety” not a necessity. This particular costume ended up using some clearance drape material, a pre-existing shiny green hat, a pre-existing mate-less sock (courtesy of Nick) that I cut in half, added buttons to for the “googley-eye effect” and stuffed each with a half a floral ball. The only other thing I bought was a bit of clearance gold fringe, which worked well for both the eyelashes and the “down the back” fringe. The whole thing cost just over $4.00 in supplies, which was awesome. Go ahead, Martha – I’m not even sure you could do better for $4!

I made it a big too big on purpose, with the idea that if he likes it, he will at least get a few year’s use out if it (editor’s note…he’s eight years old now and still brings it out to wear sometimes! score!) and basically giving myself a pat on the back for not ducking out because it was too daunting.

What crafts-gone-awry have you inflicted on innocent youth? Oh, is this just me?

Craftily yours,

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