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April 03, 2019 - Image 14

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019 // The Statement
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 // The Statement


Is the craft blog dead?


he first blog I ever read reli-
giously was called “Mod Podge
Rocks.” It was 2011 and I was
a devoted decoupager. In fact, I was
so devoted that my birthday wish list
resembled the Pinterest board of a shab-
by chic bride; all I wanted was mason
jars, tissue paper, burlap, and buttons. I
looked forward to the Sunday morning
newspaper delivery purely because of
the craft store coupons and the animat-
ed color explosion from the pages of the
Michael’s and JoAnn’s advertisements. I
still remember the home economic les-
son from my mother: Never go to a craft
store without a coupon.
“Mod Podge Rocks” was founded by
the Northwestern mom turned craft
blogger, Amy Anderson, and I read her
daily posts like gospel. When Anderson
posted “How to Paint a Colorful Clock
Face” I ran straight up to my room
and unhooked my Target clock from
my bedroom wall, eager to follow her
step-by-step instructions. After some
mechanical twiddling, I decoupaged
the clock face with patterned scrapbook
paper. Admittedly, after waiting the
24-hour drying period, the clock never
ticked again.
As Anderson gained notoriety in the
blogosphere, I became an even more
enthusiastic fan of Mod Podge. When
she published a book with directions of
how to Mod Podge everything from a
bike helmet to acorns, I of course bought
the book and completed all the projects.

Certainly, as a 12-year-old blog read-
er, I was a rare breed. I didn’t grow up
with the rise of Myspace and LiveJour-
nal that ushered in the era of the blog-
ger. And Instagram had not yet become
mainstream when I was reading blogs in
middle school. The year 2011 was a rare

in-between time in the social media
landscape where the next big technol-
ogy platform had not been determined
by the masses yet.
Yet, by the time I reached eighth
grade, the list of blogs bookmarked
under “Shannon’s Blogs” on the fam-
ily computer had grown. Added to my
daily diet of “Mod Podge Rocks” was
the trendier “A Beautiful Mess” craft
blog. Founded by two sisters, the blog
widened my purview of crafting beyond
the water base sealer, glue and finish of
Mod Podge.
That summer, I spent countless craft-
ernoons inspired by a slate of bloggers
to attempt the most ridiculous do-it-
yourself projects. I made a mesh ribbon
wreath. Concocted a clay formula for
Christmas ornaments. Ordered bees-
wax from Etsy to make candles. Pressed
flowers. Scrapbooked. Dyed fabric.
Beaded chunky necklaces. Sewed a
I even stuffed dozens of cucumber
spears into mason jars in an attempt to
make a batch of pickles. After eagerly
waiting a week for
them to ferment, I
learned only certain
types of cucumbers
specimens for pick-
ling. Most picklers
agree Kirby Cukes
are the best. I
did not use
Kirby Cukes.
les, I was

left with soggy cucumbers. But it didn’t
matter. I loved the hokey, do-it-yourself
world of crafting.
The craft bloggers on my bookmarked
list did not wear the crisp white button-
down like Martha Stewart. Their sites
did not feature the polished typography
of “Real Simple.” Their posts were often
bogged with junky code and poorly lit
photos. No one was trying to create a
brand or win sponsors. There was abso-
lutely no consistency with the content
— part of the reason why it was so fun
to read.
But when I entered high school,
Instagram took an axe to the doorway
of the blogosphere subsequently trans-
forming the world and its creators into
valuable social capital. The authenticity
of Mod-Podging mothers and crafty sis-
ters dissipated into the observable pres-
sure of these new platforms to maintain
a brand aesthetic.
Soon the dusty craft blogging cor-
ner of the internet shifted from candid
posts to much more poised articulations
of the same projects I had attempted
in the past. Granted, I
probably would have
not missed the memo
that you have to
use Kirby Cukes
for pickling with
this much more
tactile shift of
craft bloggers.
But there is
something to
what was lost
due to the for-
malization of
blogging and
the shift to

full blown professional influencers.
It is often glossed over how these plat-
forms have caused more humans than
ever before to become a brand. Prior
to social media, branding was reserved
for celebrities or professional athletes
with a public presence. But now, even
craft bloggers are expected to maintain
a precise curation of their digital selves
in order to survive the algorithms of the
search engines.
This became clear as I saw the can-
didness and complexity of the craft
blogger personality become diluted for
the sake of easy-to-understand content
and “reliability.” I don’t think humans
are necessarily built to become a brand.
The packaging of a human identity in a
brand requires the filtration of all the
paradoxes, complexities, and things that
“don’t quite make sense” about a person.
A brand has to be streamlined, succinct
and intentional — characteristics that
do not always align with the spontaneity
of human character. Laundry detergent
is supposed to have a brand, but people?
I am not so sure.
A few days ago I logged onto “Mod
Podge Rocks” and “A Beautiful Mess”
and saw a completely different interface
than the websites I remembered visiting
every day in middle school. New logos,
a full staff of contributors, sponsored
content, and product lines crammed
the masthead. The last remnants of the
coded blogs I remembered were gone.
Only the URL remained — the tomb-
stone of the



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