Welcome to this week’s ACrafty Interview with Diane Gilleland, the multi-craft, multi-talented heart of CraftyPod.
When did you start crafting? DG: Oh, I’ve been at it since I was a tiny kid. My Mom is very creative, and she always had crafty activities for my brother and I to do. It was just a natural part of our family.
What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? DG: I’ll try anything once! At the moment I’m most besotted with English Paper Piecing and plastic canvas. But just as an example, in the past week I’ve dabbled with: embroidery, machine sewing, hand quilting, making Kanzashi butterflies (that’s a Japanese fabric-folding craft), and building ornaments from thin birch shavings.
What craft project are you most proud of? DG: Hmmm… that’s tough to answer, only because I’m a process-oriented crafter. The minute I finish something, I kind of lose interest in it. But I do love how this project came out – I rescued some vintage quilt blocks by English paper piecing them into tote bags. I also love my little plastic canvas robots.
If you’re a seller, what is your most popular project? DG: I don’t sell handmade goods, but I did write a craft book about the aforementioned Kanzashi a few years back, and it’s been pretty popular.
Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? DG: Oh, definitely! Crafts challenge me every single time. I’m pretty obsessed with finding new ways to combine techniques and materials, and once I learn how to make anything, I start messing around with different ways to do it.
Each craft has its own mechanics, too – bookbinding is an exercise in slowing down and being precise. Plastic canvas is an exercise in thinking in 3D. Needle felting is about tactile sensation and patiently growing forms. Crochet is about understanding structure. I like being in all these different moments with craft.
How has crafting affected your character? DG: I’m a big believer in the idea that creativity is essential to happiness, and that all humans are creative in some domain. (Peyton Manning, my favorite NFL quarterback, is creative as all get-out at the line of scrimmage. Jaime Oliver is incredibly creative about making healthy home cooking accessible to non-cooks.)
I just think that we’re all at our best when we’re creating, whatever form that takes – we’re connected to what’s essential about us, and we’re manifesting that in the world.
For me personally, crafting is a way to connect with people through classes and the online community, but it’s also important as a way to enter my own thoughts, work out problems, and process emotions. It’s almost a form of meditation for me. Simply put, if I go too long without making things, I get quite crabby and difficult.
Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? DG: Way back in 2003, I ran across a piece in a magazine about the Church of Craft, which is a worldwide group devoted to crafts as a spiritual idea. I found myself wishing there was a chapter in Portland, where I live. And eventually, it occurred to me that there would be one if I started it!
It was a huge step for me, a shy person, to organize a public craft group for strangers and have to get out there and promote it. I changed a whole lot as a result of the project. But in the six years the group met, I watched people make new friends, share all kinds of helpful resources, and just get a couple hours to relax and make things among like-minded folks. I witnessed the healing power of crafts over and over again.
What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? DG: I have a new book coming out on August 27! It’s co-authored with Christina Lane, who’s such a talented quilter. The book is called Quilting Happiness, and it works on two levels: it’s a collection of Christina’s beautiful projects, and it’s also filled with creative exercises, quizzes, little vision-building projects, tools, and stories to help you explore all the ways quilting makes you happy. We’re so excited to see this work finally making its way out into the world!
Thanks very much, Diane, for sharing your insights, and best of luck with your new book!
You can follow Diane’s adventures on her CraftyPod blog, Twitter, and Facebook. I was lucky enough to be featured in a CraftyPod interview in March. Her “Image-Only Interview” series is fascinating and addictive – I highly recommend you check it out!
Would you like to be a part of this ACrafty interview series? Just contact me!