Book Review :: CraftFail by Heather Mann

CraftFail - book review

CraftFail* by Heather Mann of CraftFail and Dollar Store Crafts.

(Full disclosure: the publisher sent me a review copy of the book. *Affiliate link to Amazon UK.)

Before I read this book, I kinda had this attitude towards it: I’m not sure the world really needs this book. Or atleast that the world needed the content in book form. Maybe it would have been better staying on the internet. It is very much a book of our time, I think. It is amusing to see these craft fails, but maybe you don’t want to read a whole book full of them.

However, I really like the way that Heather looks at these. To quote from the book’s introduction:

In my eyes, craftfails are beautiful because they are tangible evidence of the learning process, I value my ability to fail – it’s the most important thing I’ve taken thirty years to learn.

I like that. And I agree with that 100%. Trying something, learning a new skill or craft can be pretty frustrating. But of course, learning something takes time and part of that is that sometimes it’s not pretty.

CraftFail - book review

Pinterest and craft lifestyle blogs makes rainbow cakes and 20 minute skirts look so easy, but that’s not necessarily the truth. People may have practiced the techniques behind a particular project for years.

We rarely get to see the learning process with messy kitchen bowls and wonky skirts where you’ve used the seam ripper more than any other tool.

CraftFail - book review

I am actually more drawn to the process than the finished project. I remember a few years ago Megan of NotMartha, posted about her process of making some pretty gingerbread houses that would sit on a mug. The first try wasn’t as pretty as the finished cookies. But I really enjoyed seeing that process, how something came to be. That process post has stuck in my mind more than the finished cookies post. How does your creative mind work when it’s learning and trying to figure something out, that’s interesting!

Anyway, the failed projects in Craft Fail only show the failures, but I wish it also told us a bit more. What happened afterwards? Did the craftfailers (that’s a word now) try again? Did they get better? I think that’s where the book could have really showed that yes, you may fail, but you can also get better.

That would have been more encouraging and…uplifting. And not just a collection of things that failed.

But maybe the book is uplifting! It shows you that you are not alone. It can sometimes feel like everyone else can figure out how to make that strings glued to a balloon lamp. Except your epic failure.

CraftFail - book review

Perhaps it makes it easier to just laugh at your own failed project. I have seen some reviews that say you will laugh your way through this book. I don’t know. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t think I laughed.

I still have mixed feelings about this book. It’s nice to see a book that celebrates attempts at making stuff and which shows that real craft life isn’t like what you see on Pinterest. I applaud Heather for putting together a book that reminds us of this.

When I started writing my thoughts on this book I posted on Twitter something like ‘is a book review interesting even if it’s more about the thoughts you had about it rather than the actual book?’. I had a few ‘yes!’ replies, so I am encouraged that perhaps this rambling ‘review’ will be useful somehow.

Reading the book was definitely useful to me because it made me think a lot about how crafts are presented to us. There is so much to live up to, right?

I think the thing that is giving me such trouble reviewing it is something very personal. I don’t think I am the kind of person who buys a funny book. I am one of those boring people who buy books to learn something. To put new stuff in my head. Maybe I should buy a book about having a sense of humour. ;-)

Am I the only weirdo? What do you think? Have you read this book? Would you pick it up if you came across it at the book shop or library?

CraftFail - book review

CraftFail - book review

CraftFail - book review

CraftFail - book review

CraftFail - book review

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