This is not your grandmother's crafting web site
July 29, 2009 2:16 PM   Subscribe

If you’re into crafting, you’ve probably stumbled upon Craftster, a crafting community web log within which members can post pictures and documentation of their own crafts and processes, share information and tutorials, and get feedback. The crafts tend to be off-beat and original and many involve upcycling – this is not a site where one would proudly post pictures of a completed paint-by-numbers or rug hooking kit project. The Craftster esprit de corps is nicely expressed by its slogans, which include, “No tea cosies without irony”, “Knit fast. Die Warm”, “Measure twice, cut once. Meh. Just start cutting”, and “Cheaper than therapy”. Craftster was launched in 2003, has 700,000 visitors a month, and, besides posting and discussion boards for every possible subset of crafting, its features include a calendar of forthcoming crafting events, member-created city guides to craft resources in your area, and staff-written articles. But I especially wanted to draw your attention to the Craftster Craft Challenges, the first one of which was announced on April 28, 2005. If you’re competitive and crafty, you have just enough time to whip up something for the 41st crafting challenge, which is to create an “edible craft” (the entry posting window is August 1st to August 5th). For inspiration, check out the 40 previous Craft Challenges.

Unfortunately, though I’ve done my best to set this post up to make the material as quick and easy to view as possible, it will take a lot of clicking to view all the craft challenge entries, because a) there are hundreds of them and b) they aaaaaalllll have their own individual pages. Also because these posts are up to four years old, there are many “dead” pictures, though there are still plenty that are viable. Realistically, of course, most of you just won’t be that interested, so within my list of all the first 40 Craft Challenges, I’ve linked to some of my favourite entries within the various contests to expedite things a little for those who would just like to see a relatively small selection of the better projects:

Craft challenge #1: Make “something unexpected” with $5 worth of dollar store items. Check out this prom dress made from a dollar store tablecloth, shower curtain liner, and plastic twine.

Craft challenge #2: Make a two-piece outfit from $10 worth of thrift shop items.

Craft challenge #3: Make a diorama or shrine.

Craft challenge #4: Pay homage to a 1980s Band in craft. Check out this Stray Cats T-shirt.

Craft challenge #5: Knit, crochet, weave or spool knit something without using yarn. Check out this knitted sterling silver wire bracelet.

Craft challenge #6: Make an artful collage out of free/found/trash materials. Check out this collage made of National Geographics, this Tori Amos hat box, and this wedding photo frame.

Craft challenge #7: Reincarnate a pair of jeans.

Craft challenge #8: Make “something unexpected” with $10 worth of hardware store items.

Craft challenge #9: Create a replica of yourself. Check out this self-portrait doll.

Craft challenge #10: Revamp a pair of shoes. Check out this pair of Kool-aid dyed shoes.

Craft challenge #11: revamp a thrift shop "objet d art" in some beautiful, clever or ironic way. Check out this black velvet painting satchel. This craft gets the award for its original combination of Jack Chick tracts and p0rn. And if the Smurfs ever annoyed the living shit out of you, this craft is for you.

Craft challenge #12: Make something, using at least three of the following types of craft supplies: pipe cleaners, dried pasta, plastic lacing, popsicle sticks, plastic easter grass, pom poms, potholder loops.

Craft challenge #13: Make a sock monkey. Check out this sweet transvestite sock monkey.

Craft challenge #14: Make something tiny.

Craft challenge #15: Make a robot, zombie, or bear themed craft.

Craft challenge #16: Halloween Costume Contest 2007. Check out this headless Halloween costume, little mermaid, and Frida Kahlo and Zombie Trotsky.

Craft challenge #17: Make a clock. Check out this time bomb clock.

Craft challenge #18: Make something out of felt.

Craft challenge #19: Make a tiara.

Craft challenge #20: Make a shopping bag Check out this tree hugger shopping bag.

Craft challenge #21: Upcycle a board game.

Craft challenge #22: Make a pair of pillowcases with a “yin and yang” type theme Check out these order and chaos pillowcases.

Craft challenge #23: Buy $20 worth of thrift shop crap and turn it into something awesome. Check out this cute ruffled suit and fab brown velvet cocktail dress.

Craft challenge #24: Make something that will aid you in keeping your 2008 New Year’s Resolution Check out this cupboard-style bulletin board, yarn stash chest of drawers, and collage change jars and notebook.

Craft challenge #25: Represent your home town in craft.

Craft challenge #26: Make something amazing from $10 of stuff from the dollar store. Check out this kitchen caddy from dollar store items, and $10 wedding gown.

Craft challenge #27: Create a light fixture. Check out these cherry blossom lights and this slide show lamp.

Craft challenge #28: Give a chair a makeover. Check out entry, in which two chairs get married and become a love seat.

Craft challenge #29: Commemorate your childhood heroes via craft.

Craft challenge #30: Make an ironic cozy.

Craft challenge #31: Make something functional or wearable from $15 of supermarket purchases Check out this Barack Obama bean portrait and this fruit roll up and gummi bear lampshade.

Craft challenge #32: Halloween Costume Contest 2008.

Craft challenge #33: Make a gift for a kid under 15. Check out this felt name book and vegetable garden floor pillow.

Craft challenge #34: Gift wrap a present in a thifty and stylish way. Check out this film strip gift bow, snowshoes wrapped in snow, and watch a presentsaurus attack Present City

Craft challenge #35: Make something that will help you keep your 2009 New Year’s Resolution. Check out these wardrobe mix and match magnets.

Craft challenge #36: Interpret a favourite song in craft Check out this ”You Could Be Swinging On a Star” clock.

Craft challenge #37: Decorate an existing item in your home with buttons Check out this button tulip suitcase and see how buttons can be used to cover up cat scratch damage.

Craft challenge #38: Make something out of plastic eggs. Check out this silver egg ring box and these floral-tufted rackybirds.

Craft challenge #39: Upcycle a catalogue Check out these collage table tiles, and this Faux Birkin handbag, sunburst mirror, and flip calendar.

Craft challenge #40: Incorporate a photo you’ve taken into a craft. Check out this negative lampshade, hand-pixelated version of a photo, these photo strip shoes, this calotype exposed on canvas as a direct negative, and this machine embroidered version of a photo.
posted by orange swan (20 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Craft challenge #5: Knit, crochet, weave or spool knit something without using yarn.

I've been trying to knit a scarf with twine. I figured that, for my first big project, I should use something that would mimic my finer qualities: harsh, unbending and unpleasant.
posted by lekvar at 2:25 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

holy crap. What a long post.

I've been trying to knit a scarf with twine. I figured that, for my first big project, I should use something that would mimic my finer qualities: harsh, unbending and unpleasant.

Heh. Try out heavy-gauge hemp, but after some trials with attempting to crochet with it, I've found it's a lot easier if you soak it in water first. You could also try to make your own hair-shirt - something I've been attempting for a while now. It's difficult to collect that much hair and then twist it into thread. Unpleasant? God, yes.
posted by neewom at 2:34 PM on July 29, 2009

I love Craftster. My favorite thing I've ever seen posted was a diorama that featured taxidermy mice.
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2009

This is fantastic. Now I know how I'm procrastinating at work tomorrow.
posted by alynnk at 2:45 PM on July 29, 2009


My senior year in college, I took a class called "Life Online: Anthropology of Online Communities", and I wrote my thesis paper (in two nights, in a hotel room while looking for an apartment near my new job) about Craftster. It's sort of sad that I never visit there anymore.
posted by muddgirl at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2009

This is not your grandmother's crafting web site

My grandmother's dead, you prick!
posted by grobstein at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

The Skittles dress was pretty cool, but the person who made that did it for her prom, not any kind of challenge.

I look at craftster, and think "I want to do that! That's cool!" and then I get a load of supplies and crap, and then I remember that I really don't like sewing. Or cutting, or ironing, or gluing. So embarrassing.
posted by dilettante at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2009

> You could also try to make your own hair-shirt - something I've been attempting for a while now. It's difficult to collect that much hair and then twist it into thread.

I'm pretty sure my life this year has been leading to this. Acquisition of spinding wheel - done; cutting off 14 inches of hair - done. Someone at work said to me "what have you done with the hair? ... Oh no. Oh no. You're going to spin it, aren't you?"
posted by paduasoy at 3:13 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

There are some fantastic ideas here! Curse my employers for expecting me to get some work done and not spend my whole shift looking at pretty things!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:42 PM on July 29, 2009

Is the word "upcycling" in common usage? Just curious.
posted by werkzeuger at 4:43 PM on July 29, 2009

I'm addicted to craftster. Every time I visit (every day, every hour) I end up wanting to make something.
posted by custardfairy at 4:54 PM on July 29, 2009

Thank you orange swan for reminding me about crafster. I <3 your posts so much, I should really spouse you if I haven't already....
posted by dogmom at 5:04 PM on July 29, 2009

Although I've linked to individual pages on Craftster a handful of times before for my craft posts, I never really caught on to what the site was as a whole until a few weeks back. And it surprised me that MeFi had never had a Craftster post.

A lot of the work on Craftster just stuns and jolts me into realizing how much I still think "in the box" creatively. I am not a Craftster member as of this writing but I think I'll be joining soon. I'd like to try entering some of their craft challenges too. I won't win, but I think I can whip up a creditable entry.

I won't start with the "edible craft" contest though. Some of the contest themes don't inspire me at all. I'm very practical and any craft I decide to do has to meet a certain "utility quotient". I'll never get into scrapbooking, for example, because the the ratio of time spent creating a scrapbook vs. time anyone's going to spend actually looking at the finished product just doesn't make it seem worthwhile to me. So the diorama and ironic cozy contests left me cold (though I did appreciate the wit of the "ice cube cozies"), while the dollar store and thift shop contests really had me champing at the bit.
posted by orange swan at 7:02 PM on July 29, 2009

I just came across Craftster earlier this afternoon, while looking for instruction for making a Max/Where the Wild Things Are costume for my son.

Confession: I'm a scrapbooker and yes, I know it is the dorkiest hobby ever. However, I disagree that it does not have a utility quotient. Whipping out the baby scrapbook can buy me an extra 10 minutes to myself or a "get out of jail free" card on toddler tantrums. I've also found it to be a great way to try out new techniques that can be applied to other crafts, like card making. Just saying.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:22 PM on July 29, 2009

I, an unrepentant crafting junkie, love your posts orange swan. Love them so much.
posted by dejah420 at 7:55 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

You are awesome!
posted by divabat at 11:57 PM on July 29, 2009

Is the word "upcycling" in common usage?

Amongst crafters/the DIY community. It basically means taking something thrifty or worn and making it better.

I love Craftster. I've spent hours looking through fora for things I can't even attempt, because seeing other people's work is always fun.
posted by mippy at 9:26 AM on July 30, 2009

Oh neat! I used to be a Craftster addict, but the site had sort of fallen off my radar in the past year or so. Lately I've been needing some sewing inspiration, and this site does the job for sure. Thanks, orange swan.
posted by medeine at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2009

Sometimes I make things just to post them on Craftster. My friends and family like the stuff I make, but on Craftster, they really appreciate the work that goes into things. I heart that place.
posted by bayliss at 11:08 AM on July 30, 2009

I think I'm going to blame orange swan for making me dig out my glue gun and build something!

Oh and listing out those challenges may be long, but it was totally fun to read!
posted by batgrlHG at 5:18 PM on July 30, 2009

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