all photos by Kava Gorna,

Or at least the blame shall fall to Chelsea Zalopany, who wrote the Dec. 30 article “Feathered Friends / D.I.Y. Headbands.”

Oh, New York Times.  I appreciate your efforts to make DIY more accessible to everyone, I truly do.  But you’re approaching it wrong.

To make DIY appeal to a large audience, you need to showcase something that’s easy and that anyone can do (at least to start off with; though you can totally go off on a tangent into cray-cray complicated projects once you’ve whet the appetite).

The opening paragraph is almost a contradiction in terms.  How many of you spend the time between Christmas and New Year’s “just sitting around?”  Me, I spend it with family, running to New Year’s get-togethers, send out thank-you cards for Christmas presents, exchanging gifts that were the wrong size or broken when I opened the box, cleaning out my email inbox, taking down the decorations, throwing out all the extra Christmas cookies…and that’s just for starters.  But even in the spare time I do have…if I’m considering a DIY project, well…

It takes Behr three hours to create each spring 2011 twig headpiece, and she’s broken it down into four easy steps. Now that’s time well spent.

Now there’s one sentence guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of anyone even dabbling in DIY…and enough to send me back to my Christmas cookies.

Why spend 3 hours on a single hand-dyed, hand-shaped, hand-wrapped feather headpiece?  (Unless you enjoy the process that much.)  I’d rather use those 3 hours to make:

*2 Polka-Dot Shoe-Clips
*1 Magazine Clutch
*1 Cage Cuff
*2 Scroll Earrings
*and a Woven Ribbon Bow Tunic

Kind of like the 12 Days of Christmas. You can even set it to music (start with the tune from the “5 Golden rings” part), if you like.;-)  [And all these quick-and-easy projects are coming up here on Chic Steals…stay tuned!]

And all that will probably only take an hour and a half, so you can also make a feathered headband using my tutorial here, just for good measure.:-) [Use a “hat pad” instead of hand-gluing all the feathers like I did; there’s some great choices here.)

photo from

So leave the involved, 4-step process using unbleached coq feathers, setting with vinegar, drying with a hair-dryer, steaming over a kitchen teakettle, hand-stripping, and hand-wrapping painstakingly in wire…to the experts.  That’s what you pay $148 for.  (But if you ever wanted to attempt it, now you know how the designer actually does it.)

The NYTimes also needs to interview someone who actually understands how to translate a hand-crafted, couture piece into something satisfyingly simple (and cheap!) to replicate.  (Probably not the original designer of the piece, unless they can design for the budget market.  It’s a different skill-set to address the questions of “how can we imitate the luxe look and where can we cut corners? How can someone make this at home easily, with readily-available materials?”  These aren’t usually questions up-market designers are asking themselves as they design, which makes someone like this probably not the best source when it comes to a post-holiday DIY.)

And for the love of Mike, have someone modeling the finished product.  A designer (and writer!) should know that the hesitant reader (and DIY’er looking for her next project to tempt her away from those cookies) can be swayed by a well-executed $$$money shot.

What do you guys think?  Are you DYING to try this 3-hour DIY?  Or does it negate the meaning of D.I.Y….a veritable contradiction-in-terms, if you will?


P.S. Thank you all for your kind words and well-wishes to my mother during this difficult time for her and our family. Regularly-scheduled blog content will return tomorrow.  Thank you.

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