Sh*tty Craft Club: A Club for Gluing Beads to Trash, Talking about Our Feelings, and Making Silly Things
Author: Sam Reece
Photos by: Lizzie Darden
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: September 19, 2023
Excerpt from pages 59-61
I moved a few times growing up—specifically right before sixth grade and in the middle of eighth grade, which are, historically, two of the worst years to exist.
Who was I in sixth grade? Great question. It was the year 2000. We had just moved to the rural town of Landenberg, Pennsylvania. I listened to West Side Story alone in my room on repeat. I had a small gap between my two front teeth. I played the alto saxophone, even though it was the same size as my body. I played on three soccer teams simultaneously. And I was deeply obsessed with Billy Joel’s River of Dreams album.
The arrival of seventh grade brought some relief. And by “relief,” I mean BANGS! Blunt yet wispy. Opaque and also somehow translucent. But, whatever, I had bangs and I was no longer the new girl. I had friends who were all really tall! We played The Sims together until the family computer was about to explode. I straightened AND curled my hair every single day. I blasted my treasured Now That’s What I Call Music! CDs on my blue see-through Discman! I played the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods JR.! My birthday is 9/11, so that was interesting! I was a jock! I played soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and handball (oh my god, how did I not know I was gay?). And somehow, against all odds, I became obsessed with cheerleading. Not in a “I’m actually gonna do it” kind of way. Mostly in a “can’t stop pretending I’m a cheerleader when I’m alone in my room, actually getting really good at a toe touch and a Herkie, referencing a Herkie in conversation even though no one knows what the hell I’m talking about, and listening exclusively to cheerleading megamixes” kind of way. Regular, normal stuff.
Smash cut to 2002. I have braces. I told my friends to call me “Sammie” and they DID. I just got home from eight weeks of overnight camp and even though I was lightly bullied by rich North Jersey girls, I was excited to go back! The day after I’m home, my parents bring me into the computer room and play a DVD about a faraway land called “Summerlin, Las Vegas!” And I’m like, “OK, cool?” And they’re like, “We’re moving there in October sorry are you excited do you have any thoughts?”
I was not excited, and I had a LOT of thoughts. Here are some direct quotes from my diary:
“My family says I’m outgoing but I dunno.”
“AHHH! I haven’t had 1 bf all my years here (1½) in Pennsylvania grrr! I don’t wanna leave!”
“I am completely depressed. I cry myself to sleep almost every night.”
“I need to buy some thongs. I just got tight pants and you can see my underwear line so you know what that means . . . THONG TIME!”
According to the archives (my diary), I was clearly frustrated about starting at a new school AGAIN and not having an older sister to console me and tell me what to wear—my imaginary older sister would obviously agree that I needed the orange satin bell-bottoms and GRL PWR top from Limited Too, MOM. I had also decided that when I got to Las Vegas I was going to become a whole new person. I was going to be a CHEERLEADER.
There was something so optimistic about my belief that I could go from “really shy for the first three months of knowing anyone” to “outgoing and brave and somehow also naturally blond just like Lizzie McGuire!!” How hard could it be? I played the LEAD in Into the Woods JR.! I could be anyone I wanted to be. I remember believing I could do it. And being mad at myself when I couldn’t switch on this imaginary-fun-time-outgoing Sam with the first person I met. What’s that saying? “Wherever you go, there you are.” And wherever I was, there were my cheerleading megamixes and my dream. According to science (every movie ever), if I was a cheerleader, that meant I was popular and had friends and a thousand tall boyfriends who loved me.
Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news? My middle school didn’t have a cheerleading squad. The good news? I joined show choir and wore an embarrassing purple sequin dress. And sang weird Christmas songs in the mall! And belted “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” on the classically monotone alto line!
But I was still (definitely legally) downloading cheerleading megamixes and practicing toe touches and Herkies in my room just in case my high school had a cheerleading squad. And guess what? It most certainly did not. My high school—the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts— did not even have a single sports team.
So, the dream lives on. Except that if I tried to do a toe touch now, I would certainly die from my injuries.
Instead, let’s make POM-POMS.
Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books (C) Sam Reece 2023
About the Book:
Almost half of 18-to-29-year-olds reported feeling burnout in 2021*. It’s no surprise then that the concept of a “shitty craft club” resonated in this time of stress and uncertainty.
The TikTok and Instagram sensation @ShittyCraftClub was created and cultivated by comedian Sam Reece with the idea that crafting should be fun and making (imperfect) art can help us cope in today’s world.
Now, Reece is capturing the magic of the movement in a book on sale this September. Shitty Craft Club: A Club for Gluing Beads to Trash, Talking about Our Feelings, and Making Silly Things (Chronicle Books / $24.95) is a hilarious guide to discovering your creativity, embracing chaos, and finding inner calm.
Blending nihilistic humor and 90s nostalgia, Sam Reece takes readers on a glorious, messy journey through bedazzling and beads (lots and lots of beads). With step-by-step instructions to over a dozen craft ideas, funny and relatable interludes, and advice on how to host your own club, Shitty Craft Club proves there’s no limit to what a craft can be – and that letting go of perfection can be therapeutic.
Shitty Craft Club will inspire anyone to pick up a hot glue gun, get some friends together, and get crafting – and it gives readers permission to be as weird, wild, and wonderful as they want to be. Everyone is welcome in the club!
About the Author:
Throughout her career, Sam Reece worked on and off screen for many networks and agencies as a writer, actor, director, producer, and copywriter. She’s worked with cool places like Comedy Central, MTV, Buzzfeed, NBC, Twitch, Quibi (RIP), and more. She was a writer for Comedy Central’s Stir Crazy with Josh Horowitz and co-head writer for an Amber Tamblyn pilot presentation featuring Amy Schumer, Ilana Glazer, and Janelle James.
She’s been writing and performing comedy with her best friend Becky Chicoine as duo Girls with Brown Hair since 2013. In addition, Sam has appeared in prominent national advertisements including a spot in a Super Bowl ad for DoorDash, where she appeared alongside Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and Super Grover (Sesame Street).
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