She’s baaaack …

Amy Sedaris could be called many things: actress, comic, playwright, bestselling author of "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence," sister of David, friend of Letterman, esteemed cupcake maker, and professional fake ugly person. Now, with the arrival of her latest masterpiece book, "Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People," Sedaris can now add deranged DIY-er to her list of titles.

Truth is, Sedaris, once described by The [skipwords]New York Times[/skipwords] as “Martha Stewart gone haywire,” is already known for her offbeat home improvement projects like rabbit-proofing her Greenwich Village apartment for her pet bunny, Dusty, decorating with stuffed squirrels, or tending to her Todd Oldham-designed faux fireplace. "Simple Times," co-written with frequent collaborator Paul Dinello, just solidifies her reputation as a crackpot crafter with an eye for unusual upcycling.

I was able to get a sneak peek at "Simple Times" (it hits stores on Nov. 2) and needless to say, Sedaris fans or anyone interested in learning how to make a doorknob handgrip out of an old doll wig or a Jesus wall hanging from old popsicle sticks won’t be disappointed.

Similar to cooking- and entertaining-focused "I Like You," there’s a lot going on in "Simple Times" — I had to take 10-minute breathers after every chapter in fear of OD'ing on immaculately styled kitsch (Adam Selman’s art direction and costume design is something to truly behold) — so it’s a book best approached gradually and with a sense of humor. I suggest skipping around. Read the introductory chapters, “The Whos and Whats of Crafting” and “The Craft of Crafting Craftingly.” Next, tackle individual sections based on your personal interests whether it’s crafting with acorns and seashells or crafting while “ramped up on amphetamines.”
Silliness and ReadyMade-on-acid presentation aside, many of the craft suggestions in "Simple Times" (I'm loving the Pompom Golf Club covers, pictured up top) are rather straightforward and family friendly. And while Sedaris's tongue is planted too deeply in cheek to really focus on the inherent eco-friendliness of her many recycle-centric crafts, she does broach the topic in the section “Joy of Poverty:”
We can feel a sense of pride when we turn what most consider ‘garbage’ into an eye-pleasing creation. It would be hard not to feel delight when a neighbor glares at your new front lawn black rubber flower planters, giving you the opportunity to say, ‘Believe it not, those used to be tires!’
Below, you'll find brief instructions on how to craft one of Sedaris's more "basic" creations found in "Simple Times": a peanut can upcycled into a pencil holder.

Gifts for Your Favorite Aunt


Instructions: Use a sugared peanut can (although any can

with a plastic top will probably do), and punch holes in the

lid with a hole punch. Decorate can with paper, trim, rubber

stamps, sequins, stencils, fringe, or anything you like.

"Simple Times: Crafting for Poor People" by Amy Sedaris ($27.99) Grand Central Publishing

Released Nov. 2, 2010

Pencil Can credit: "SIMPLE TIMES" by Amy Sedaris. Copyright © 2010 by Amy Sedaris. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing, [skipwords]New York[/skipwords], NY. All rights reserved.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.