staple gun FAIL

It happens every year: I resolve to keep the hand made Christmas gifts as simple as possible and it works out really well until mid-December when I'm suddenly inspired to Make Something For Everyone and my creative energy (or you might call it panic) goes into overdrive and ambition far outweighs the time and ability I have to get it done. That's how a big pile of felted thrift store sweaters came to fill up one of the storage cupboards in the basement. Last year's intentions (or was it the year before, even?) to turn them all into clever bags and scarves and potholders didn't get too far past the planning stage.

This year I resolved, again, to keep things reasonable and not bite off more than I can chew. I'm doing better than normal, but even so, I was sidelined today by the realization that Christmas is two weeks away and our out-of-town visitors are showing up a little bit before that so I have about a week and a half to clean the house, plan the food, figure out where everyone is sleeping, and finish making the gifts.

On top of all this, I'm playing for a gazillion things this week (yay, work! not complaining here!) and Anya's birthday is Saturday so she's having a few friends over and I have no idea when I'm going to find the time to make cupcakes. Maybe I don't really need to sleep on Friday night.

What does any of this have to do with a staple gun (see post title)? Well, Anya, as it turns out, is an extremely creative kid. She is always drawing and singing and making things out of stuff like paper and toilet paper rolls and balloons (which reminds me - mom and dad, she made you a Christmas present that's really, um, unusual, and she worked really hard on it and is very proud of it so please try not to look disappointed). She told me that in art class at school they made paper and she wants to try that at home. I reacted like I always do, which is to nod and say I'll think about how we can do that a little later, ok?

The truth is, I'd seen a recycled paper making kit at a craft store and thought it was something she'd like, but I didn't buy it because it seemed kind of stupid to pay $25 for a bag of pre-shredded tissue paper, a cheap wooden frame and a sheet of instructions. So I did a bit of online searching and found that it's pretty easy to come up with the supplies for paper-making yourself. Most of what you need can be found around the house, and the deckle and mold (wooden frames, one with a screen mesh for forming the paper) are relatively easy and pretty cheap to make.

I think a paper-making kit would be a good present for Anya (she's just not really into toys, except for stuffed animals, and she's got plenty of those already), so I spent the afternoon gathering supplies for the deckle and mold. This involved going to the thrift store and getting some very cheap wooden frames for .60 apiece, then to the hardware for a roll of screen for 6 bucks, then to the evil giant craft store for the most expensive item: a staple gun which is labeled "heavy duty" for upholstery work but is actually a total piece of crap.

I read the instructions, loaded up the staples, and then tried to attach the screen to one of the wooden frames. The first few staples worked okay but one out of every three ended up twisted and had to be removed with a pliers. This was no easy task since the staples themselves are brittle and broke without much tugging. After I had to pull out about a dozen failed staples, the damn thing just quit working all together. There are dire warnings all over the package NOT TO POINT THE STAPLE GUN AT YOUR FACE, but I ask you, when the stapler refuses to emit staples that aren't completely mangled, how the hell else are are you supposed to look at it and figure out why it isn't working?

I also didn't staple my face, thankfully, though I did accidentally send a few staples zinging across the room.I didn't figure out what's wrong. I simply concluded that this tool I spent time finding and money buying is worthless and must be returned. I put the staple gun  back in the package and dug up the receipt. I'm definitely getting my money back for this thing. After returning it, I think Home Depot may be my next stop.

Why am I so determined to get this done? For one thing, Anya's birthday is drawing near (Saturday! Did I mention that already?), and for another, I just can't help that I'm a maker. I love to make stuff, and so does my daughter. The opportunity to make something and give it to her so she can make more stuff is just too good to pass up, even if it involves cursing at tools and making multiple trips to big box stores that I ordinarily avoid.


Jessi said…
I have a craft store staple gun and a hardware store staple gun and the hardware store staple gun is about a million times better!!

Good luck. I am going to be down to the wire this year, too. I am mainly doing homemade because money's tight this year, but it's going to be close getting everything done. I am spending this weekend locked in my house crocheting like a crazy person.
Anonymous said…
Would you like for me to bring you some dryer lint? Jawanna putts dryer lint (in various colors) in the paper she makes.
Suze said…
Sure, mom! As long as it's colorful :)
Anonymous said…
Ye Gads. A new low. "This Christmas, give dryer lint." At least it is not expensive.

Around here we might still have a staple gun like the one you picture. I have forgotten the last time we used it. I use a pneumatic staple gun, but I do not recommend getting one unless it would be used a lot, which I did when I built boxes and the like for Summer Camp.

When it comes to being creative and building things, don't slow them down, unless it is dangerous.


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