“Making It” Contestant Credits City High with Instilling a Passion for Arts & Crafts

"Making It" premieres on NBC on July 31.

“Parks & Recreation” alums Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are returning to your TV screens on Tuesday, July 31 with their new show “Making It,” a crafting competition show, and one of the contestants is a Grand Rapids native.

Robert Mahar spent his childhood in Grand Rapids from ages 5 to 17. Mahar grew up in the Alger Heights neighborhood and attended City High School, where he said his creative instincts were cultivated by a curriculum that helped connect different subject areas. While he was always an “indoor kid,” spending his time completing craft kits and making potholder looms, City High helped him see his interests as more than a hobby.

“I went to City High, which had an excellent arts program and I think that really solidified my love of not only the fine arts but also the craft and maker side of things as well,” Mahar said. “When we were studying Greco Roman history in history class we were reading “The Iliad” in literature and then throwing Greco Roman pots in art class.”

Robert Mahar competes on "Making It."
Robert Mahar competes on “Making It.”

Mahar also had the opportunity to visit cultural institutions like Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and the Grand Rapids Arts Museum on field trips, all of which helped him see a future in the arts.

As an adult, Mahar lives in California where he creates crafting and DIY tutorials for YouTube as well as other digital companies.

In March of 2017, Mahar saw the call for applicants for “Making It” and decided to apply. He said the application process took nearly six months and included phone and Skype interviews, in-person interviews and in person workshop challenges.

Ultimately, Mahar was among the eight contestants, or makers, chosen for the six-episode series, which also includes Poehler and Offerman as hosts and Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert, and Simon Doonan, Barneys creative ambassador, as judges.

He explained the show’s premise.

“Each episode consists of two challenges, one that is referred to as the faster craft that is to be completed in a three-hour time frame. That is followed by the master craft, where makers are given a theme and a challenge and have to create two specific projects within a 12-hour period. It’s quite a crafting marathon.”

Each week a different competitor is eliminated and three makers advance to the finale episode. Mahar couldn’t tell us how he fared, but he encourages people to check out the show, which he described as similar to “The Great British Baking Show,” in that it has a more collegiate and supportive vibe than the cutthroat feel of other competitive reality shows.

Mahar said even noncrafters will enjoy seeing the makers go through the process of creating something unique and beautiful.

“I really hope the show is well received,” he said. “I know people will tune in for Nick and Amy, but even if you aren’t a crafter, I think watching this group of people go through the creative process together is really compelling.”

You can watch “Making It” at 10 p.m. on Tuesday nights on NBC beginning with the premiere episode on Tuesday, July 31.

*Photos courtesy of NBC

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