Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Don’t Put A Bird On It: Saving “Craft” From Cuteness

In the first minute of the TLC summer show “Craft Wars,” the host Tori Spelling says the word “craft” and its variants over a dozen times. It’s the “ultimate crafting competition.” Competitors have “every crafting tool they could dream of.” “As an avid crafter myself, with my own crafting line….” The repetition seems unnecessary, given the show’s title and the beauty wall behind Spelling featuring the full spectrum of fabric, thread, tools, and notions. But after listening to Spelling say “craft” a few dozen more times, without substitution, I realized her writers weren’t brand-crazy. They were just stumped. There are no synonyms for a word that has lost its meaning.

What “craft” mostly means on “Craft Wars” is the act of making things cuter. Take this shopping cart full of sports equipment and make a cute bag. Take this shopping cart full of school supplies and make a cute playhouse. That these bags will never be used, that some of them are not even completed, that, really, a duffel bag has already achieved ideal sports-bag form, are not considerations, not when a sawed-off tennis racket can be inserted “for ventilation” and tennis balls strung to make a “more comfortable” carrying strap. And what could be more delightful than a playhouse roofed in composition-book covers, never mind its ability to withstand rain?