Despite my vaguely disturbing fascination with Martha Stewart, I'm not what I would consider a "crafter". I don't make personalized canvas totes, or flowers out of paper or acorn pendants. In short, I am not on Martha's "craft of the day" distribution list.
However, I occasionally enjoy making things by hand. For instance, when the weather begins to turn cold, I suddenly feel the need to knit something. But this is usually as far as it goes. Except this year.
As you may remember, because my family came to me for the holidays this year, I erected my first Christmas tree ever last week. And since it was my first, I had virtually no ornaments. And since I didn't feel the need to spend vast sums on new ornaments, I was forced to get a bit creative...crafty, if you will.
Now the only craft store I've ever heard mentioned in general conversation is Michael's, which from what I understand is a national chain. But as New York is a somewhat difficult environment for big box retail to establish itself in, there is no Michael's in the city (or at least not yet, I hear that one will be opening in the new year). So I was forced to turn to Google, and with minimal research discovered that there is a crafting mecca by the name of Lee's Art Shop at 220 West 57th Street. Score!
And when I got there, what did I discover? The most magical place on earth! Endless aisles of glitter, ribbons, yarn, feather boas, glue, paper, lights, framing materials...the inventory seems almost infinite. At four floors, the store really does hold an extraordinary variety of items.
And perhaps most importantly, the prices are all totally reasonable. So for about $35 I got all of the materials necessary to decorate my whole tree (or at least the half of it that faces the living room, I will admit that the back is rather barren). And with the help of my very lovely friends, I actually was able to produce all of the ornaments that I had conceived of. For instance, a 49 cent foam snowflake covered with silver Martha Stewart glitter (I know, I know, I talk about her ad infinitum, but I'm telling you, her glitter really is quite superior, much finer and sparklier than the competition), produced this dramatic effect:
And some 35 cent papier mache forms combined with glitter and Greg's artistic flair created these adorable little adornments:
And some wide grosgrain ribbon along with a needle and thread (along with some inspiration from Martha's latest issue of her magazine...I told you my fascination is a bit much), produced this cute sunburst:
And the final product? Here:
OK, probably would be more impressive if I had something other than my Blackberry to take pictures with. But trust me, it is the best tree ever.
I'll admit I did not create the star at the top, that was a wonderful find at Kate's Paperie. And by the way, if you're there for the star, you should absolutely pick up some of the beautiful and adorable rhinestone reindeer silhouette ornaments. (Thanks to my sister, who also brought me a gorgeous painted ball from Scotland, and my parents, I am now the proud owner of two of the sparkly reindeer and I love them more than is really appropriate).
Anyway, back to Lee's Art Shop. A leisurely wander around the store is the ultimate antidote to a soul-crushing, or simply a marginally bad, day. The abundance of frivolous, eye catching items will transport you back to the best parts of your childhood (assuming you enjoyed the kindergarten art project phase), and you will rediscover your child within. At least until you exit the store, throwing yourself back onto the frigid streets of Manhattan.