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Reality television has proven that anything can be turned into a competition, and with sites like Pinterest and Etsy raising everyone’s crafty game, it was only a matter of time before crafting became a reality television show. TLC’s new show Craft Wars is like The Hunger Games of DIY projects, only the crafters aren’t quite fighting to the death. Will crafting work as a competition show, or will it end up as a commercial for Michaels?
Craft Wars debuted on TLC on June 26, with host Tori Spelling telling viewers to “fire up their glue guns.” The premise is simple: contestants compete by completing some crazy craft challenges and the winner takes home $10,000. Contestants have access to a woodshop and plenty of crafting items from Michaels, plus they are accompanied by an assistant from home (the first episode featured two husbands and a father). Three crafters face off for a “Pop Craft,” a project that has to be completed within one hour. One contestant is sent home after the Pop Craft judging, then the remaining two move on to the main craft challenge, which is allotted five hours.
The judges are stars in the craft world: Erica Domesek, founder and CEO of DIY company PS – I Made This and author of a book of the same name; Stephen Brown, author, entrepreneur, and founder of giftware company Glitterville; and Jo Pearson, an author, host, and creative expert for Michaels craft stores. Host Spelling, best known for her role as Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood (her reality show with husband Dean McDermott), is a craft expert in her own right. She authored the party-planning book CelebreTORI and has a new craft line at Michaels. She is to Craft Wars what Tim Gunn is to Project Runway, mixed with a bit of Heidi Klum’s hosting duties during judging.
The first “Pop Craft” competition required the crafters to use sports equipment to make a duffel bag in just one hour. Yes, it is a ridiculously short time to come up with a plan and execute it, but many crafters do get stuck trying to finish party decorations minutes before a party or are up until all hours finishing a DIY gift. I’m not sure that the judges were aware that the crafters had only one hour to make a duffel bag, because their less-than-helpful critiques called for more hand-sewing and less spray glue. How concerned can you be with durability when you have ONE HOUR to make a duffle bag?
So is Craft Wars worth giving up an hour of your Tuesday night? If you are on the craft bandwagon, watching others struggle with difficult crafts should prove entertaining, you will be able to relate to their frustrations and gasp when they choose to put spray-glued fabric through a sewing machine. If you are looking for crafting inspiration, this show may be a bust: the crafts are ones you would not likely attempt as they often don’t use the best materials for each project (to make it more challenging). You may also want to shake the judges for how picky their critiques are (yes, it’s a $10,000 prize, but the contestants have very little time). Crafts may seem like a strange idea to turn into reality television, but it works in the same way as Project Runway and Cupcake Wars. One difference is that there is less product placement than Runway, even with Michaels supplying a judge (Pearson) and materials. If Etsy and Pinterest have you dreaming of glue guns and glitter, Craft Wars may be worth watching as you decoupage something.