Amy Sedaris has a style all her own. She’s starred as a middle-aged high school student with a drug problem on Strangers With Candy, authored the ultimate guide to throwing an awkward party and has a habit of appearing on talk shows wearing some very bold swing dresses.
In her newest book, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, which comes out Tuesday, Sedaris gets in touch with her inner frugalista and offers an absurdist how-to guide for living the DIY lifestyle. She explains how to make jewelry out of coconut shells and how to use pine cones as ribbons for packaging gifts. But don’t ever ask Sedaris to make you one herself.
“Every project I take on turns out to be a disaster,” she tells MainStreet. “I always need help and a lot of it.”
While Simple Times is an over-the-top work of comedy, Sedaris may strike a chord with the many Americans who are trying to find creative ways to get by with limited resources. In fact, as she notes half-jokingly in the book, the one benefit of living with less is that you do have “a fortunate opportunity for creative resourcefulness.”
Sedaris spoke with MainStreet about the inspiration for her new book, the cupcake business she used to run part-time and what she would do if she had to live on just $1 a day.
MainStreet: Your previous book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, focused on tips for throwing a memorable party. What motivated you to switch from that to writing about crafts for poor people?
Sedaris: I have a small craft section in I Like You and I wanted to expand on that so I thought I would do a whole craft book and since I used inexpensive supplies I thought it would be good for the poor. The entire book is just one big trigger idea so I hope people get inspired to create their own crafts and ideas.
MS: With that in mind, I’m going to say an item that many Americans probably have too much of, and you tell me what, if anything, one could try to make with it. Let’s start with peanut shells.
Sedaris: Use the peanut shells for fingernails. Place the open ended shell over a finger, use a red marker and color on a red nail.
MS: Okay, next: foreclosure notices.
Sedaris: Paper airplanes, stationery, or put them through a shredder and use it to line a cage.
MS: Last one: answering machine tapes filled with angry voice mails from debt collectors.
Sedaris: I would practice my hammering on these.