The trends, the issues, and productive business
Me and Martha Stewart
by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer (May 7, 2007)
(Note: This is reprinted with permission from Julie's blog
I went to a taping of the Martha Stewart TV show today. The
studio is in Chelsea and Martha was kicking off "Scrapbooking
Week" in this episode, which will air on Monday, May 7. I
didn't bring my camera, so I don't have any photos, but I thought
I'd share the experience for those of you who are curious.
We were instructed to show up at the studio by 12:30 pm. The show
would tape at 2 pm. What to wear: "Dress your Best! Cute jeans,
chic dress, or a fun outfit – bright colors photograph best, and
we ask that you refrain from wearing white. Men – polo type shirts
or a button up shirt are best, with or without a blazer or jacket
– it's your call. No hats, t-shirts or sleeveless tops,
please." We were also told to bring a government ID and our
So I did.
Once you pick up your ticket, you wait in a line outside. Once
inside, you go through a metal detector and they search your bag.
You can then check your coat and have a seat in the holding area.
There are enormous photos all around. One is of Martha with two dogs
and the rest are fuzzy cats and puppies with big eyes.
I sat with some lovely ladies from the Manhattan Scrapbook Meetup
Group. We shared our scrapbooks and ate some of Martha's chocolate
chip cookies. They were fine. Nothing particularly ethereal or
amazing. But, they were cookies!
After a while, anybody who wanted to share their scrapbook on air
was asked to show their books to some of the production assistants.
We did. They were rushed and clearly looking for something (and
someone) in particular. About an hour into sitting around, the
audience fluffer (probably rightfully called the audience warmer)
came out and gave his spiel about clapping and having a lot of
energy. I liked him. But, I changed my mind when he became
extraordinarily patronizing during the course of the show.
("Did you take that photograph? And you glued it to the page
all by yourself?")
They called the tickets in small batches. We were instructed to
remove our scrapbooks from our bags ("easier for
seating.") After most of the audience was seated, they moved
all the young, thin women into the front. This is TV after all,
The studio was very cool. Tons of lights (can't I take one or two
home to Milk Can's theatre?) and various "areas" such as
the kitchen, craft room, potting shed, etc. It was fun to see
because on TV, it really looks separate. But, it's not.
Martha taped seven segments with us. My favorite was with chef
and cookbook author Patricia Wells. She has a new cookbook that I
was thrilled to receive as a giveaway! It's called Vegetable
Harvest. Now, I haven't had time to look through the book, but
the three recipes she cooked on air looked easy and delicious! Can't
wait to try it!
The one thing that really soured me on the whole experience was
Martha's crafting segment. She made a sort of family tree shadow
box. Now, I understand that Martha Stewart is a business woman and a
figurehead and is not sitting at home coming up with all the
"good things" and project ideas. Duh. But, I was really
offended when she didn't know the names of her own tools!!! She
instructed us to use "construction paper" to mat our
photos. Any scrapbooker knows that this is not what she meant
(construction paper is non-archival). She then referred to foam
adhesive as "sponge like things" and later as
"feet." Finally, she called the paper punch from HER OWN
SCRAPBOOKING LINE "a paper cutter." I mean, the thing even
says "paper punch" on the box!
Now, you may think I'm completely overreacting, but I thought it
was rude to not even take the time to learn the names of the things
you're marketing. I guess the article in the Wall Street Journal
this week titled "Dowdy Craft Business Gets Martha Stewart
Makeover" is part of the reason. The thing is, Martha touts
herself as an expert. I know it's fake, but I feel really let down.
After the taping, Martha answered audience questions. I have to
say, she was wearing some amazing high heels: gold platforms. Pretty
We were let out of the studio around 4 pm. I went to visit my
favorite quilt shop (The City Quilter), since I was in the
neighborhood. One of the gals who works there, asked me if I got
anything free. I showed off my cookbook (yay!) and some Martha
Stewart scrapbooking supplies (to make the family tree shadow box)
we received. She told me some people from the morning show had come
into the shop earlier and were deeply disappointed to have received
nothing. Made me feel very lucky.
Funny anecdote: On my way out of the studio, a man with a
postcard of Montel Williams stopped me. He was standing in front of
a limo. "Do you want to go to a taping of the Montel Show?
We're taking everyone over in a limo!" I was bowled over.
They're so desperate for an audience, they're trying to steal them
from other shows?! Bizarre.
(Note: Julie is a member of the All American Scrapbook Co.
design team, and her quilts, writing, and page layouts have won
awards and been published in books and magazines. Look for her
layouts in Leisure Arts' upcoming book, Doodling for
Papercrafters, in Cantata Books' Hip Chicks, and Simple
Scrapbooks' July/August issue. To contact Julie, email