News updates and goings-on

  • Welcome, Today Show fans!

    Shoshana is simply beside herself after seeing her ugly mug on Today Show style editor Bobbie Thomas’s blog this morning!

    Bobbie put out a call last week for DIY (do-it-yourself) projects involving upcycling – using materials that might otherwise be thrown out, and using them in new and interesting ways.

    Here’s the email I sent her and her producers, which will also sum up the project for you:

    Hi Bobbie and The Today Show,

    A couple of months ago I started a project that’s a lovely compliment to upcycling old stuff into new stuff. It’s called Mighty Ugly, and the gist is that you take a couple of hours and some supplies that would otherwise end up in the trash, and you make a totally hideous creature. Why? Because we put so much pressure on ourselves to create beautiful (cute, pretty, attractive) things, and that pressure can be totally paralyzing.

    By using scraps, we remove any inclination we may have to consider our materials precious. By making something ugly, we challenge our general crafty mindset but also set ourselves free – which is especially awesome for people who don’t consider themselves crafty in the first place.

    There’s no pattern, and you can use any materials you want. Just make an ugly creature. It’s pretty amazing that almost everyone who’s taken one of my workshops ends up saying they’ll keep their ugly creature. The people who come in saying they’re intimidated by making stuff leave with a spring in their step, and the crafty people overcome feeling threatened and end up feeling inspired.

    You can see some examples and hear some stories from crafty people at Attached is a photo of Shoshana, the mascot of the project.

    Thanks for your consideration!


    Take a look around the site, and set aside a couple of hours to make something ugly. Then take some photos and drop us a line and tell us about your experience. We bet a hundred ugly crocheted scarves you’ll enjoy yourself, or at the very least you’ll think about crafting from a new perspective.

    Keep up with people’s stories and our musings by subscribing to this blog, or by following us on Twitter and/or Facebook.

    If you live in the Vancouver, BC, area, we’ll be starting up with workshops again in September.

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  • Beautiful Losers

    Over on Twitter, my friend Mercedes just linked to the trailer for Beautiful Losers, a documentary about artists in NYC in the ’90s. Here’s the trailer:

    Beautiful Losers film trailer from beautifullosersfilm on Vimeo.

    This is so what I’m talking about, people. The trailer gave me chills, after all I’ve been thinking about after the Summit of Awesome (more on that soon!), and about where I see this project going (to great heights, that’s for sure!). I’m going to see this as soon as I can. Have you seen it?

    Here’s what they say on their Facebook page:

    Beautiful Losers celebrates the spirit behind one of the most influential cultural movements of a generation. In the early 1990’s a loose-knit group of like-minded outsiders found common ground at a little NYC storefront gallery. Rooted in the DIY (do-it-yourself) subcultures of skateboarding, surf, punk, hip hop & graffiti, they made art that reflected the lifestyles they led. Developing their craft with almost no influence from the “establishment” art world, this group, and the subcultures they sprang from, have now become a movement that has been transforming pop culture.

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  • Ugly and Awesome All at a Summit

    It’s hard to believe the Summit of Awesome has come and gone. I hadn’t been sure what to expect in the weeks leading up to it; I just knew I’d pack Shoshana and all the Mighty Ugly gear into the trunk of my car because it’s too much to take on the train with my own luggage, and then we’d see how it all played out. I knew I’d love seeing my crafty Portland friends, and I hoped I’d make some new ones. I wasn’t sure if people would enjoy an ugly workshop. I was excited to meet Jena Coray and to lead a session with her. I thought for weeks and weeks about how to structure my own session.

    And dude, the Summit really was awesome. All of it. Every part of it. Y’all should go pay some love to the people at Hello Craft, who put on the conference. They’re amazing.

    I have so much to write about my trip that I’ve decided just to keep it thematic. Mighty Ugly stuff here, the other stuff on my blog. Sorry to make you go to both places, but it was too daunting to do all in one piece!

    Ok, so. Shoshana met some famous crafters.

    Shoshana and famous crafters1. Kelly Rand from Hello Craft; 2. Heather Mann from Craft Fail, Dollar Store Crafts and Croq Zine; 3. Ok, no famous person here, but check out Shoshana and her swag; 4. Diane Gilleland from Craftypod; 5. Susan Beal, author, blogger, and jewelry-maker extraordinaire; 6. Kari Chapin, author of The Handmade Marketplace

    Participants in the workshop session really seemed to enjoy themselves. I can’t wait to process the videos. When I do I’ll blog about them here, so for now, take a look at some pics from the session (clicking the link in the caption will take you to that full photo on Flickr).

    Mighty Ugly session at the Summit of Awesome1. Lee Makin’ Mighty Ugly, 2. Vanessa’s creature wasn’t looking very ugly…, 3. Kelly Draws a Face, 4. Kelly’s Creature, 5. Monica’s Creature, 6. Miranda’s Creature, 7. My Ugly Creature, 8. Mighty Ugly Workshop: Class Photo, 9. Mighty Ugly Creatures from the Summit of Awesome

    On Friday, I gave a talk titled Taking the Pressure Off: When Ugly Is Mighty. Lemme tell ya, so many things fell into place for me during the session. So a huge thank-you to all the participants who journeyed with me through that. I loved talking with you all about how we hold ourselves back and how we might benefit from some ugly in pushing ourselves forward. I hope you’ll keep me posted on any adventures you embark upon! And stay tuned here for some fleshing-out of ideas. I have lots to write about.

    The post I write on my blog is going to be longer and more rambly. Head on over there for more on the Summit of Awesome. And say hello if we met there! I miss you already.

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  • Making Ugly at the Summit of Awesome

    Shoshana and I are in Portland, OR! The Summit of Awesome is, well, awesome. And since it’s a crafts conference, we get to hand-make pretty much everything. First up: our name badges. And since I’m leading two Mighty Ugly sessions, I figured I’d make my name badge ugly. It was way harder than I’d anticipated! And it took well over an hour.

    Ugly Name Badge

    Ugly Name Badge

    Ugly Name Badge

    I wish I had more time to write, but I have to get going – breakfast’s in half an hour. More photos and words to come!

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  • Celebrating Mistakes – and Even Failure

    I love this post by Alexander Kjerulf over on his blog Chief Happiness Officer: Top 5 reasons to celebrate mistakes at work.

    His focus is on business – on how it’s good to create a business culture that celebrates the learning and innovation that can result from mistakes – but I think the attitude he’s promoting is just as important in the rest of life. We have to be easier on ourselves. When we are, we can accept that we screw up sometimes, and we can learn more easily from our screw-ups.

    It wasn’t just on a whim that I made the tag-line of this project “where failure’s kinda pretty.” I’ve spent years talking to way too many crafters who say they’re afraid to mess up their projects. One of my many goals with Mighty Ugly is to turn failure on its head so we can all get more comfortable seeing the (sometimes bountiful) benefits in it.

    My favourite part of Kjerulf’s post is the quote from James Dyson, inventor of the wildly expensive, life-changing vacuum we recently brought into our dog-fur-infested home:

    We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually.

    [Hat tip to @the99percent, one of my new favourite Twitter feeds.]

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