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getting crafty
by Yee-Fan Sun
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I am not a crafty person at heart. And I don't mean crafty in the dictionary-defined Machiavelli-manipulative sense (although I'd like to think I'm not that either); we're talking the slang crafty, specifically, possessing an inherent gift for craft. A true crafty person loves nothing more than to spend her free time picking up the knitting needles, or whipping out the sewing machine, or turning a pile of AOL CDs into, oh, a coffee table. She does it with joy, with grace, with consummate skill. Craft is therapy, meditation, relaxation, for the bona fide crafty boy or girl.

For me, on the other hand, craft is a battle.

People always eye me skeptically when, in the midst of launching into yet another story of how I spent the weekend spiffing up a thrift store/estate sale/ hand-me-down piece of junk, I feel compelled to assert that I am not a Martha Stewart-type by nature. They take a look at the throw pillows I've sewn, the chair I've refinished, the funky lamps I've refurbished, and assume I'm being annoyingly modest. True, there's nary a single piece of furniture in my living room that hasn't somehow been either constructed from scratch, or painted-over, re-upholstered, or otherwise modified by either myself or my boy. And, I'll admit, most of it isn't even too much of an eyesore.

So yeah, clearly I craft. But the thing is, it's often reluctantly. Because as much as I know I almost always end up loving the finished product, the process has a tendency to stress me out. Still, I like having beautiful, interesting, one-of-a-kind things in this little house of mine. And for a girl on a budget, that's meant embracing the do-it-yourself philosophy, even in the complete absence of a clue as to how to get from start to finish.

So I'm not crafty, you see: I'm just cheap. Combine that with my preference for unique décor over mass-produced style and what do you get? Me, with a drill or a sewing machine or that trusty old staplegun, slaving away at another project du weekend, cranky as hell. Just ask the boy, who's long since learned to ignore the cursing, the screaming, the grunting, that inevitably accompany my DIY attempts. "You sound like you're in labor!" he'd once noted after running in to check on me in concern. "Don't talk to me!" I'd screamed back, sweat rivulets flowing down my face. Trust me: it's never a pretty sight watching me work on a project.

Not too long ago, at one of our weekly estate sale excursions, by husband and I happened to stumble across a great pair of sectional sofas that we absolutely didn't need, and completely wanted to have. Two rather sleek, very cool, mid-century vintage sofas in near-pristine condition sat smack dab amidst the throng of bargain-hunters -- and the price tag was a mere $75 for the both of them. Lack of space in our house be damned; we mulled it over for five minutes, then promptly wrote out the check. Two car trips with a sectional tenuously strapped aboard the roof later, and we had hefted our new sofas back home.

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