News updates and goings-on

  • Workshop at Plush on Main, May 10th

    Shoshana and I are doing a happy dance over here, because the very first public Mighty Ugly workshop is coming up! The fine women at Plush on Main, here in Vancouver, have invited us to bring on the ugly in their awesome workroom. (Plush is a wee boutique of locally handmade goods. You should visit.)

    So here’s your chance to flex your creative muscles, challenge your pretty habit, get your craft on, and meet fun people, all while taking the Mighty Ugly challenge. No matter what you expect, you’ll be surprised by your experience.

    The details!

    Where: Plush on Main (4296 Main Street)
    When: Monday, 10th May from 7-9PM
    What: Create a hideous creature, thus using your brain and your creativity in shiny new ways, while chatting with others and getting your craft on (no crafts experience necessary!).
    How much: $35 (includes all supplies, use of tools, and pointers if you want ’em)
    Who: You. And me. And bring a friend. And make some new ones.
    Register: Please contact Barbara at 604-708-5199 or to reserve your spot (only 12 spots available!).

    Note: Because Plush’s workroom is used for serious work, no food or drinks are permitted. Please grab a bite to eat before you come. You’ll be so intent creating your ugly you’d forget to munch, anyway.

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  • Stop. Judging. Yourself.

    One of the things I’m most interested in exploring through the Mighty Ugly project is how we’re affected by the judgments we make in response to other people’s beautiful creations.

    Today on Jezebel, Sadie Stein wrote a post that perfectly encapsulates what I mean. It can be very hard, when the vast beauty of crafts and lifestyle blogs is always just a click away, to judge ourselves against the stunning photos and whimsical stories people create. On the days we’re not very open to inspiration, we may read those blogs and end up feeling like crap. We can end up feeling like our photo-composition skills are severely lacking, like our fashion sense is so conventional, like we can maybe throw together a plate of chocolate chip cookies but not a meringue like she can.

    We judge ourselves. Harshly. Unfairly. We decide we shouldn’t bother making stuff. And what do we get out of it those days we fall, as Stein put it, “down the picturesque-vintage-design-craft rabbit hole… and [emerge] three hours later, bleary-eyed and full of self-loathing”? Nothing good, that’s what.

    I wish Shoshana could wave her magic wand (mental note: make Shoshana a magic wand) and stop people from creating such misery for themselves. But she can’t. We need to do it ourselves. We could stop seeking out all that beauty, but what good would that do? No. What we need to do is stop freaking judging ourselves so harshly.

    Stop it. Now. You owe yourself better.

    [Hat tip to @SisterDiane, who tweeted the link to Jezebel.]

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  • Fe’s Mighty Ugly Story

    {As folks start sending us their Mighty Ugly stories [you can too!], I’ll be posting some here on the blog for you to enjoy and discuss. *hint*}

    Fe sent us her story a few days ago:

    Truth be told, I’ve never been really good about making things “pretty”.  I think it’s probably as tough for me to make something purposefully pretty as to make something purposefully ugly. However, pretty is the norm, so that’s what I always strive for… but to make something purposefully ugly, I was intrigued.  It was something that I’ve never done before. It also sounded like fun. I started thinking about what I thought was ugly, and what kinds of things I can put together to make it happen. I think that was definitely part of the fun. I really enjoyed thinking about putting different media together for my creation. The ideas just came rushing in.

    I was finally able to actually do the challenge last night, and it was great. I picked up things in my craft area that I felt I didn’t need and went to work. Suddenly, I had Super Lula (that yellow piece of fleece is supposed to be a cape – and I don’t know what her super power is). I took a picture and was ready to share it.

    Oddly, I think that was the hard part. I knew as soon as I had it out there, it was going to be there for all the world to see, and people might criticize. It took a bit of convincing myself that it’s supposed to be ugly (though I think she’s kinda cute too), and that it was okay for people to say so. Once I got past that, I uploaded the picture for the world to see. Phew!

    I’m glad I did this challenge because, first and foremost, it was fun. But also, it made me think outside of what is normal, and it encouraged me to rise above potential criticism and accept my ugly creation.

    It’s not everyday that you intentionally make something ugly, but maybe once in a while it’s a good thing. Thanks for the experience.

    Presenting: Super Lula (poor thing, she’s only got one bent-fork hand):

    Lula - Mighty Ugly

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  • Ugly Is as Ugly Does?

    I got the first email sent from our contact form this morning. Tisha‘s thoughts on ugly sure started off my week on a thoughtful note. So thoughtful I asked her if it would be alright if I shared parts of our exchange with all of you.

    Tisha: Thought about your challenge. Looked at the pictures sent in by the people who made “Uglies” and discovered I do not think these creations are ugly and I asked myself “Why don’t I think these things are ugly?” I rolled this around for about 5 minutes and then I realized that UGLY, for me, is in intention – that is to say, if a thing does no harm then it is not ugly to me. I found many of the creatures from this Flickr group adorable.

    Kim: Thanks for sharing your perspective on ugly. I hadn’t thought about the benign effect of “ugly” creatures taking away from their ugliness. You’ve brought me to a whole new level of thinking on this. If you were to create an ugly creature yourself, how would you make it ugly?

    Tisha: I don’ know if I would want to spend time making such a thing – but it would have to have pins or shards of glass or be covered in a toxic substance, with the intention to cause harm. Do you think there is a difference between UGLY and REPULSIVE? Because, for me, something that is repulsive is hard to look at but does not necessarily mean to cause harm. I might be spinning my wheels here. I so understand that most people think of ugly as you intended in your challenge, it’s just that the more I thought about making something ugly the harder it was to think something up that would be passive, and that’s when I realised UGLY to me is: a high school student who is mean to a classmate, a parent who neglects their child…

    I’d always thought of the difference between ugly and repulsive as the difference between something being thoroughly unattractive and something that repels me physically – a repulsive thing evokes a physical response, be it a cringe, a wrinkling of the nose, a turning stomach.

    Tisha’s perspective on ugly as being defined by the intention to do harm – where ugly is determined based on behavior – is one I hadn’t considered with respect to this project.

    Now that she mentions it, of course I think ugly behaviour is uglier than anything that’s only ugly on the surface – and certainly beautiful people can be hideous.

    Having had this perspective brought to your attention, do you think it’ll affect your approach to making an ugly creature for the challenge?

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  • Ugly Creature: FU Mrs. O, by Miranda Lievers

    You may have seen a snippet from Miranda Liever‘s creature video in the CBC news clip last week. She’s the one whose Grade 1 teacher used her diorama as an example of how not to use glue. Poor Miranda. I’m really glad she had a chance to work out her lingering anger about that last week during the Mighty Ugly crafts experiment.

    Mighty Ugly Creature: FU Mrs. O!

    Here’s what Miranda had to say about her experience making her creature:

    • I think my brain is warped because I loved many of the dolls created. I couldn’t believe no one wanted to keep theirs! I loved yours [Kim’s], I loved the giant snake, I loved the cheerleader… so many. I secretly want to keep them all, but they’ll be going to a  good cause in Kimli’s Northern Voice talk.**
    • I really, really had fun with the fact that my plans and ideas could change so fluidly and evolve as I went. There was no “but that’s not the plan” little voice… and the end product was so much better because I just went with it as I was creating. Normally once you make decisions you are more committed because you’ve already sewn that part or whatever and you can’t easily retrofit, but in the case of an ugly doll I could just sew a leg on top if I needed to without worrying about more traditional construction methods. This was freeing.
    • I liked that we were making dolls with cloth and similar materials available, because they are plush and have a certain cuddly factor even when they are filled with glass, like mine. As a kid I played a lot with paper and other materials and those items just become recycling, where I think a doll is in many ways more permanent. I felt like I was creating something more substantial and valuable than if I just glued a bunch of things to a sheet of paper.
    • I think my favourite part – like many have likely said – was that it was a social activity. I personally would be interested in doing this on my own, but the reality is that I would have a hard time making the time with everything else I have happening. Conversely, I will make time for social activities, and this was a great one.
    • I would be interested in hearing how non-creatives felt about the activity. As crafters we already knew how to work with the materials at hand – how to sew, how a glue gun works and behaves, the concept of sewing an item then turning it inside out and completing with stuffing to create a traditional stuffed item. These skills are fairly basic but something I think everyone at the table was familiar with, but I think there are people who would find the actual mechanics of working with the materials (stuffed or otherwise) to be stressful. Even if someone was gluing an item together rather than sewing, not everyone knows that white glue will take forever to dry vs. a glue gun which will actually dry quite quickly. I wonder if there may be value – and I’m sure doing a workshop with non-crafty types would tell you – in doing like a 5-minute intro on the basic tools that they have in front of them? Print out a poster showing the most basic of stitches? Have a stapler for those who want to do that? I’m not sure. Just thoughts.

    I love Miranda’s reactions and suggestions, and will certainly be keeping them in mind as I begin to lead Mighty Ugly workshops***.

    And here’s Miranda telling her creature’s story:


    ** Northern Voice is a blogging conference that will be held here in Vancouver next month. Kimli Welsh will be presenting a talk on overcoming social anxiety and she’ll be using the creatures created during the MU experiment in… a surprising way.

    *** That’s right, it’s official! Mighty Ugly workshops!

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  • Mighty Ugly on CBC Vancouver News

    Shoshana nearly had a heart attack last Friday when she received an hour’s notice before local CBC online and interactive reporter Theresa Lalonde showed up at our house with a charming cameraman. Thankfully she has a policy never to primp, or she wouldn’t have had time to get ready. I, on the other hand, do primp. It was a frenzy.

    Also? It was hilarious and fun. And kinda cool to be on the evening news a mere three days after we launched this project. As I told my grandmother to her delight, we didn’t even have to get arrested.

    CBC doesn’t allow you to embed their videos (silly CBC), but you can watch the two-minute clip here (hopefully it won’t disappear in a few days). And After you’ve watched the clip, send some happy vibes to Theresa for creating one of the few crafts-related news segments I’ve ever seen that didn’t diminish the topic with cutesy back-handed compliments or cliches. And more than that, she totally grokked it, so if you’re a little confused about what Mighty Ugly is, watching the clip should clear some things up.

    (Note: There is no contest, and it’s not about knitting.)

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