It was raining. I had a cold. My landlord’s garage construction project had knocked out my cable and internet for two weeks. I had reached peak 2016. I took it out on some felt.
Hoping for some holiday cheer, I decided to make a few ornaments. But all the ornaments came out 2016-shaped.
First, I made Prince, who left us in April.
Then I made Babe the Blue Ox, who was knocked ox-over-teakettle by a storm up in Brainerd in August.
Then I made a sad Viking.
Then I realized that most of the news stories I’ve covered this year were too depressing to turn into ornaments. So I made a dumpster fire instead.
People really seemed to enjoy the dumpster fire. (It was retweeted thousands of times.) Some asked for one of their own. But I cannot oblige, because I do not know how to Etsy. So instead, here is a step-by-step guide that will allow you to DIY your own 2016 dumpster fire in no time.
Step 1: You'll need some felt, scissors, needle and thread. I found all of the above in the craft aisle at Target, including something they call a “Felt Library.”
Step 2: Consult the AP stylebook to confirm that “Dumpster” is still supposed to be capitalized. It is not. Toss stylebook into the dumpster fire in your mind.
Step 3: Put on some music. Preferably something by one of the dozens of talented artists who have died in 2016. Some Leonard Cohen, perhaps. Or A Tribe Called Quest.
Step 4: Sketch out your vision for the perfect 2016 dumpster fire. As you do so, reflect on the terrorist attacks, mass shootings, politics, civil unrest, refugee crises, celebrity deaths and Brexiting that helped make 2016 what it was.
Step 4: Snip out the outline of your sketch to use as a template.
Step 5: Realize you are incapable of drawing a straight line and use some other square or rectangular object as a template instead. Cut out a simple square if you want an easy, classic dumpster fire.
If you’d like to give yourself a crafting cluster headache for the holidays, go for a 3D dumpster effect. Offset the template an inch or two and snip off the corner of your felt square. This will be side of your dumpster. Line up your template next to the snipped section and cut up and around to form the front of your dumpster. Move your template to the side of the felt, and make a small mark, so the side of your dumpster will be the same height as the front. Snip from that mark down to the front of the dumpster.
Don’t worry if the lines are crooked or if it looks weird. This is a dumpster we’re making, and we’re about to set it on fire.
Step 6: Congratulations! You have the front of a dumpster! Pause to remember that stretch during the summer when Ryan Lochte dominated the news cycle.
Step 7: You don’t have to give your dumpster a backside. I made one for mine, so it could cradle the flames like a felt taco. If, like me, you are a fan of unnecessary effort, get another piece of felt. Place the front of the dumpster over the back felt and snip out that same lefthand corner.
Step 8: Flip the front of the dumpster over and snip around the outline to create a 3D effect that absolutely no one will be able to see once the dumpster is on fire.
Step 9: Voila! This would be a good time to question why you don’t have any fabric glue in the house. This project would be a lot easier with fabric glue.
Step 10: Obtain needle and thread. Oh my God, this is going to take forever. Which reminds you that 2016 gave us more than two dozen presidential candidates. Thanks for that, 2016.
Step 11: Get stitching! (Or gluing. Get some fabric glue and some glitter. Don’t be like me.) I stitched the 2016 and seam on the front of the dumpster first.
Step 12: Put the front of the dumpster on the back of the dumpster. Stitch the sides and bottom together like a wee wallet. Belatedly realize you forgot to stitch the top decorative seams on the front of the dumpster. Awkwardly do so now, stabbing yourself repeatedly with the needle.
Step 13: Peek inside your dumpster. Whisper into the void: “You killed Prince, David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister, 2016. This is on you.”
Step 14: Flame on! Grab some red, orange and yellow felt.
Step 15: Cut felt into flamelike shapes of varying sizes. As many flames as you like. You might think you have enough flames, but then you remember that 2016 also killed Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder and R2D2.
Step 16: For a festive dumpster flame, stack a little red flame on a larger orange flame on a larger yellow flame. Secure them in place with a stitch or two. Feel free to mix the order up. Make a few large flame shapes to tuck in the back of the dumpster fire.
Step 17: Have you made enough flames? NO YOU HAVE NOT.
Step 18: Start tucking the flames into the dumpster. Stitch (or glue) the flames to the front or back fabric, hiding the new stitches along the edge stitchwork. You are en fuego.
Step 19: Jam as many flames as humanly possible into that felt dumpster. Put it all together and, voila. you get…!
Step 20: …Harambe! No, wait…
Step 21: …Your very own 2016 dumpster fire! Here’s to a brighter 2017.