Crafting like a Man with Patrick Murillo: Christmas Ornaments

Some people are crafty, some aren't (i.e. me). It's the way of the world. But taking a cue from Mantastic Crafter Patrick Murillo, I'm training in the art, and hoping to work my way up to something truly mantastic, all while trying to avoid what Murillo calls a "craftastrophe."

When I first walked into Patrick Murillo's home for crafting boot camp, saying I felt intimidated would be an understatement for the ages. There was some traditional art, sure, but there was also a miniature motorcycle built out of only household objects. I'm still trying to work out how he put that together; as far as I'm concerned, it breaks every law of physics.

I haven't crafted anything since I was a kid, going to after-school recreation classes. But I made a pretty killer log cabin out of Popsicle sticks once. All right, I thought, I can handle this. So I sat down in the back with Murillo and -- wait, did he paint these chairs himself?

Get me out of here.

The crafting challenge of the day setup for me was a Christmas ornament. I know, it's still a little early to be thinking about St. Nick, but it was relatively easy, and you've got to start somewhere.

1. The first step is to take a see-through ornament, add some glue to it, then maneuver it gently in your hand until the glue reaches every part of the ornament.

This already presented some problems when I ended up with glue-less spots. Being the crafty guy I am, I turned the ornament upside down to take a better look. The excess glue made a nice plop when it hit the table. Swing and a miss.

Thankfully, Murillo helped out with some words of encouragement.

"You've got to breathe," he says. "It's just like weightlifting or karate or anything else."

Besides being what is probably the greatest analogy ever used for crafting, this lifted my spirits a bit. I went on.

2. Step two is to add some glitter of your choice.

"It's all right for men to use glitter," Murillo assures me.

I went for some blue, added it into my ornament, and shook for good measure. My glue spots became a bit more noticeable, but I can see it's coming together (and I don't notice sparkly blue residue on my fingers until later that day).

3. After that, we added pictures of our choosing to the ornament by carefully dabbing some glue on top of it. I went with Frida Kahlo (what's more mantastic than unibrows?),

4. Next came the painting. We both took a dab of a color that would compliment our glitter and put a border around our picture. Then, with a third color, Murillo shows me a special technique to create a line spreading away from the picture.

It goes like this: Take a big glob of paint on the butt of your brush, place it where you want the line to start, then gently drag it. I take this advice, practice it on the tablecloth a few times, then forget everything I practiced and gob it onto my ornament until it looks like a mutant sunflower.

And that's about the end of it. Just add a handy store-bought hanger to tag onto the end of the ornament and you're all set.

Remember to wrap it up in something soft so that it doesn't shatter like my hope of ever being a talented crafter ... until next time.