Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Jeff Hamilton, tatter and chainmailler.
When did you start crafting? JH: Awesome! The first question is an easy one. I first started crafting over 20 years ago when I was about seven or eight. I was bored one summer and my mom taught me how to do needlepoint using plastic canvas. She taught me crochet after I had made a few projects with the canvas. From then on, I just had an interest in crafting. My interest in tatting started about 18 years ago when I found a tatting shuttle in a box of crochet patterns. I didn’t know was it was for until I later found a small booklet of tatting patterns in the same box. I just had to learn how to tat.
What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? JH: Hmm. I’ve tried so many, I hope you’re not looking for an exhaustive list! I’ve done knitting, crochet, tatting, Teneriffe lace, needlepoint using plastic canvas, cross stitch, Temari (Japanese thread balls), chainmaille, polymer clay, painting, felting (wet and needle), and spinning using a spindle. I’m sure there are others; I do like to try new crafts. As to my current favourite, I’m going to have to go with tatting, with crochet and chainmaille close behind.
What is the silliest question you’ve ever received about your craft? JH: Well, I have to admit, I haven’t been asked any silly questions yet. However, a lot of people confuse tatting with tattoos and that has brought some interesting questions and comments to other tatters.
What craft project are you most proud of? JH: I’m proud of every project I manage to finish. A couple projects stand out though. A large doily made using a tatted motif called Windmills, is the largest item I made to date. I am still working on it so it will end up larger than it’s current 15 inch diameter. Another project is a male Betta fish. This is the first design I created myself.
Do you ever craft in public? If so, what kind of reactions do you receive from others? JH: I did when I was much younger. I used to go to the local Farmer’s Market with my mom where I would crochet while my mom was busy vending. I’d have a lot of people commenting on how nice it was to see a young boy crocheting. In particular, the older ladies thought it was great.
Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? JH: I think every craft project can be challenging in many ways. I, like a lot of tatters, make many of our items from other people’s patterns online and from books. Lately, many foreign language books have become readily available to us. The patterns themselves are often just diagrammed, but sometimes that’s just not enough. I know I’ve tried a pattern from one of these books and sometimes, something doesn’t work. I’m sure that the key to the pattern is in the text, if only I could read it.
How has crafting affected your character? JH: I definitely think crafting has affected my character. I know it has made me much more patient. I’ve always had a imaginative/creative side and have been able to express it when I design my own tatting patterns. Any crafting I do has a calming effect on me, which is nice if I have a tough day at work and need to relax.
Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? JH: I know that my Grandmother was particularly fond of my tatting. She was often very interested in what I was working on. And she did often tell her friends about me and my crafting. I know my Mom greatly enjoys my crafting. She is particularly proud of the crafts that I learned on my own, ones that she never learned herself.
What is the one question you’ve never been asked about your craft that you’ve always wanted to answer? JH: Since I haven’t had anyone ask, I kinda want to have to explain that tatting has nothing to do with tattoos. I’d like to be able to explain to this person what tatting actually is, and perhaps even offer to teach them.
What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? JH: I’ve got many ideas right now. Being a male tatter, I have always felt a need to create guy friendly tatting patterns. I started a tatted tie a few years ago, and I do hope to finish it. My most recent project is creating a tatted tattoo arm band. I figured instead of trying to separate ourselves from tattoos, I could replicate the look of a tattoo without the pain and permanence.
Many thanks to Jeff for giving this interview! After I discovered MrXStitch, I’m always happy to find the work of other men who work in thread, textile, and needle crafts (check out my ACrafty Interview with cross stitcher WhateverJames).
Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPod, embroiderer Sasha of What. No Mints?, jeweler Ron Buhler, embroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, the multi-talented David Tedin, and needlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpi.