ACrafty Interview with Pam Harris

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Pam Harris – multicrafter extrordinare!

Afternoon Tea and Craft on the PatioWhen did you start crafting? PH: I was about 6 years old and I learned to make little Zozobra’s by tying a Kleenex around a cotton ball and sticking on two little eyes. My Mom and I made them as part of a fund raising project for her club during Fiesta de Santa Fe. Most “craft skills” I learned were “useful” – sewing, embroidery, knitting; however, I do recall making little rolled paper beads with my Great Grandmother. I come from a long line of practical women so anything I made or learned to make (even when very young) had to have lasting value. I have pretty much carried that ethic forward throughout my crafty life.

What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? PH: You do know I am an incurable dabbler – right?

Knitted/felted snowman.  Pattern from Marie Mayhew Designs.Knitting, crochet, punched tin, polymer clay, beading, wire and beads, quilting, wheat weaving, shaved wood, wet felting, needle felting, weaving, embroidery, temari, soft toys, gourds, English paper piecing, sewing garments and household goods, spinning, decoupage, bread dough sculpture, macrame, paper, hand building and throwing pottery on a wheel….

Current favorite? Besides any craft having to do with Christmas and Winter Holidays you mean? Mostly working with fiber – any and all of the fiber crafts – what I find myself doing most of the time. I like combining techniques – so that several fiber crafts are included in a project

Celebrating St. Lucy Day - St. Lucy, Star Boy, Scandi-gnome and TomteWhat is the biggest project you’ve ever tackled? PH: It is a toss-up between Austrian shades for Diane’s bedroom when she was a girl, re-upholstering a sofa, and a 4 foot by 6 foot embroidery which took forever! I think I have gotten the need for big projects out of the way!!! Now I relish smaller projects and except for knitting and crochet, and I pretty much prefer to use my own designs.

 

First pair of socks!What project are you most proud of? PH: Learning to knit socks!!

Learning to knit socks was a looooong, fiercely fought battle between the part of me who wanted, like everything, to learn to knit socks and the side of me that is intimidated by anything that is not fairly easy to learn the first time. To give you a clue, just casting on required repeated views of “cast on videos!” Can you imagine what I went through learning short rows or picking up gussets? Many “near-tear moments” I’ll admit! (And a bonus – while knitting the first sock, I became an expert at unraveling my work!!!)

I had no one i could turn to for help so I had to rely on the internet. It is a hugely valuable resource for learning to knit or crochet or sew or….. Coming from a time when such a resource did not exist, I totally appreciate how much the easy access to knowledge adds to the quality of and opportunities to learn in our lives.

So, while the socks I have knitted provide welcome and beautiful footwear, they are much more – a constant reminder of the role persistence and unwillingness to give up plays in the process of learning a new skill.

Using Mod Podge to mount fall leaves to small canvasesWhat is the silliest question you’ve received regarding your work? PH: I can’t actually think of a single silly question. I have been frustrated at times by crafters asking me why their project didn’t turn out only to subsequently find out that they did not follow instructions.

 

Filling up mini muffin cups with tiny hexiesWhat is the most common question you receive regarding your work? PH: How do I manage to do as much as I do!!! The answer is that I tend to be very organized and carefully plan my time so that I can accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

 

Fall Leaves, Mod Podge and Mason Jar = Beautiful CandleWhat is your most popular project? PH: Pretty much a three way split between coloring Easter Eggs with Kool-aid, using Mod Podge and food coloring to tint jars to use as lanterns or vases, and using Mod Podge to apply dried fall leaves to jars. While there are several others that drive large amounts of traffic to my blog, these three are by far responsible for the most traffic.

Dutch Canal Houses embroidery to celebrate St. Nicholas Day/SinterclasDo you sketch or plan most of your work before you begin, or do you generally work without a pattern? PH: I use a pattern when and where it is needed – like a quilt or embroidery, knitted piece or a soft toy – however, as often as possible, I like using my own ideas. Some crafts like painting gourds, punching tin, working with shaved wood or beads and wire and while weaving – I tend not to pre-plan but let my muse have her way with me!!

Saori freestyle weaving, Crochet Tooterphant and Winter Solstice Quilt BlockHas a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? PH: I tend to try new things I know nothing about so I often get into trouble – in lots of unexpected ways!!! But I always find a way to make it happen – learn what I need to learn.

 

 

Punched Tin Butterflies massing on my Seasonal TreeHow has crafting affected your character? PH: For me crafting – making – is as necessary as breathing. It is not something I have acquired – something added. It is who I am. It is a natural expression of my predisposition to create. It is how I function on a daily basis. And so, engaging in craft activity brings me joy, fulfillment, satisfaction.

Taking my craft to a blog has brought me in touch with a unique and inspirational group of new friends from all corners of the earth – women (and men) who are authentic, creative, and each brilliant in her/his own way. I am grateful for these connections beyond words. AND I am thrilled that the blog gives me the opportunity to support and share their talents.

Danish Woven Paper Heart BasketsCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? PH: Nothing in particular comes to mind. But my heart is made happy hearing from crafters who leave me comments or who write me e-mails and share how much a tutorial I have written has helped them understand the process behind a particular craft.

 

 

 

 

Guess i am going to learn lace knitting!What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? PH: Weaving bags for Diane (daughter – Craftypod) and myself using all hand spun yarns; designing and creating a primstav (more info) using embroidery; learn simple carving so I can carve my own Christmas elves and Santas; knit a Finnish lace poncho from hand spun yarn; and continue testing cookie recipes for the “Winter Holiday Cookies from Around the World” project!
Sweet Pepperkaker addition to winter holiday baking!

 

Many, many thanks to Pam for taking the time from her busy schedule to participate in this interview series! Pam just celebrated her Five Year Blogging Anniversary (a huge accomplishment), and I know she’s got a lot of winter holiday crafty goodness coming up on her blog over the next six weeks. Just look at those cookies above and how elegantly they’re displayed – can you even imagine how beautiful her whole house must look for the holidays? It’s mindboggling!

You can follow Pam’s adventures on her blog Gingerbread Snowflakes, her Flickr photostream (and Flickr sets with picture guides to all her tutorials), and on Instagram (@gingerbreadsnowflakes).

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 (Pam’s daughter) multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonpotter Nancy Germondbasketweaver Tina Puckettcross stitcher Meredith Cait, the two part interview with textile artist Arlee Barr, and Halloween costume maker Justin Newton.

ACrafty Interview with Arlee Barr – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this fascinating ACrafty Interview with Arlee Barr, textile and quilt artist. Arlee’s responses are so engaging that the interview was split into two parts! Here’s a link to Part 1, if you missed it or would like to refresh your memory.

acrafty interview - arlee barr ecoprint triptychs

I took a look at some of your first Flickr uploads from 2005. How would you say that your work has changed over the last eight years? AB: There was a long period where i lost myself, literally and figuratively, in the explosion of “mixed media” where every colour was used, every texture, every technique, every found and bought object with every commercial product imagined. The only thing that held it all together for me, however weakly, was the fabric that was the base i worked from, and the fact that suddenly i was making something that was not wearable, that didn’t have to fit anyone, but that was possibly art. When i discovered natural dyeing and other organic cloth marking methods, my whole approach changed. Initially even with these elemental fabrics, i used a fair bit of machine work, then slowly moved into just hand embroidery, finding that the look while more delicate appearing, was quite strong and unifying. As i continue to “find the image” in the unique marks inherent in the process of staining or dyeing, they are becoming works with an amalgam now of machine and hand. I use a lot of free motion embroidery as it can be very gestural, using those areas as either accent or a base to build on with hand embroidery. When i was first doing hand embroidery in my 20’s, i knew only of satin stitch and french knots, but now i prefer cleaner lines and the effects from simple stitches with a few fancies thrown in along the way for texture. I let the fabric move as it will (i loathe embroidery hoops) and with those basic stitches used experimentally, can control the depth of manipulation and the resulting texture.

I’ve pared down my colour use, and refuse to use “technique driven” response as art. It’s not important to show the kitchen sink in everything you create. As i get older, and ironically, my eyesight poorer, i focus literally and figuratively more on the details.

acrafty interview - arlee barr the difference between a plum

 

acrafty interview - arlee barr wild rose series

Has an art project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? AB: I’m currently working on a large project (“Anno Suturae”, 48×72”) that i initially thought would take a year. As it turns out, it’s evolving into 2 years at least, and will have to be pluralized! All hand worked, it’s incorporating things i’ve learned or are still testing with hand stitch. Because hand work takes a lot of time, trying to divide my attention for work that will be seen and work that is intensely personal, has been hard.

How has art affected your character? AB: I’ve evolved into more of an intuitive maker than a deliberate product artist. I’ve learned patience, perseverance and a more critical eye to what i am expressing and how i utilize needle and thread to externalize that. Patience first and foremost is what you have to have as an artist: patience for the process, the technique and most of all your own satisfaction and soul. Patience is trust, learning to find your own voice and knowing your instincts are right.

Can you share a story about how your art has affected others? AB: When i created “Mother’s Heart”, i received a lot of messages about how heart issues of all sorts had affected people’s lives. From poignant memories of of loved ones and their subsequent death, to a painful revelation from a former nurse, to feelings of revulsion and anger, i had no idea of how it would be perceived by others: i had intended only to show Mother Nature as i saw her, with the use of naturally dyed and ecoprinted fabrics and hand stitch. She’s a force, and one that directs all doings and it was an homage to her, rather than a representation of the body or health issues. A fascinating lesson in interpretation!acrafty interview - arlee barr mother's heart

What do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? AB: The future is now! I’m striving to create a body of work as it gives continuity and purpose to my life, and am hoping to finalize a solo show in the next year. A few years ago i was ready to throw in the towel and never make anything ever again–my dear Greyman was explicit in his words “if you quit being an artist, you will go crazy–and so will i!” It made me realize that having been creative all my life, that there was no stopping at any point for any reason. I can’t imagine not making or planning *something*. Even with the immensely destructive June 2013 flooding in Calgary Alberta that affected me personally in my home based studio and emotionally speaking, causing a bit of a “drought” in my creative process, i have found new hope, new work emerging and a stronger appreciation for Mother Nature and the inspiration i find in her.

Much of my imagery and subtexts relate to what is internal to me; i can only hope that someone else can feel what i am saying. Having dealt with mental health issues all my life, i can only say that it is healing, calming and necessary to express myself as i do in this medium. Cloth is soothing to everyone, from birth to death and all the days in between. I do believe that today’s world with all it’s supposed cosmopolitan and sophisticated attitude yearns for a more personal, grounded approach to art, one without heavy concept, overly political statement or existing for sheer prettiness’s sake.

You just don’t quit on yourself!

acrafty interview - arlee barr work in progress

 

Once again, many thanks to Arlee for her participation in this ACrafty Interview series! As she commented on Part 1 of the interview, Arlee was glad for “the opportunity to ‘explain’ [herself].” I think we are all the beneficiaries of her generous insights into her work.

Also once again, thanks to fellow ACrafty Interview subject Betty Busby (original interview and followup) for suggesting that I approach Arlee for the series.

You can follow Arlee’s adventures on her blog, her FacebookFlickr, and her shop

Please note that Arlee does not want any of the images that she provided above copied, Pinned, or used in any way without her permission. An excerpt from her Flickr profile: “Please do not add my photos to your Pinterest without asking me–this violates the copyright clause that say *I* have exclusive right to decide where my work is distributed–my photos are ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.”

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 CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonpotter Nancy Germondbasketweaver Tina Puckettquilter and pursemaker Linda Martin, and cross stitcher Meredith Cait.

ACrafty Interview with Arlee Barr – Part 1

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Arlee Barr, textile artist. Arlee’s responses are so thorough and engaging that the interview has been split into two parts!

Here’s Part 1 to start your fascinating look at her art and process: acrafty interview - arlee barr embroidery for vest from original pen and ink drawing

When did you start making art? AB: I’ve always considered myself an artist, whether it was my first realistic renderings of an airplane (the family having lived several years above a hanger when i was quite young!), drawings of plants and animals, writing poetry and critiques for a Canadian literary magazine when i was 16, moving onto pen and ink renderings of fantasy elements in my late teens and then in my 20’s, with a child added to the mix, translating my drawings into embroidery and making clothing for myself and my son that were way past the considered norm of the time. ( I could find that boy in *any* crowd 🙂 )

I come from a long matriarchal line of women who Did simply because they had to, and knowing that it was the way of their lives. I credit my mother first and foremost. She taught me to break the rules, to think as an individual and to re-invent the wheel, teaching me to sew by hand when i was five: i created a series of Barbie type dolls with all of their clothes sewn on, seams visible and impossible to take off unless i cut them! When i was seven, i had lessons on a sewing machine and by the time i was nine, was making all of my own clothes. When i was 13, my grade 8 home ec teacher was bothered by the fact that while everyone else was busy figuring out the intricacies of an apron or pyjama pants, i was already making more complicated gusseted and gored mid Eastern styled dresses.

My mother was widely read, immersed herself in museum and gallery visits, bringing home a new sensibility about world apparel and style, almost a hippie in her wanderings through those respectable findings. Because of her, i see things differently, and she encouraged me to experiment and explore what could be done with a needle and thread. It wasn’t until my teens though, that i realized that what i was doing could be art rather than craft. I was also lucky enough to be hanging around with a bunch of students who were taken under the wing of an incredibly talented art teacher would take us to Hamilton and Toronto to the galleries and art colleges, on his own dime.

acrafty interview - arlee barr street pretty

What mediums have you tried and what is your current favorite? AB: I painted, i wrote poetry (still do), i created mixed media collages and shrines, i dabbled in everything i could but nothing really held my interest unless i went back to a needle and thread, whether on a machine or by hand. In my 30’s i started selling my wearable art and with the encouragement of friends and a helpful counsellor, entered a 2 year Textile Arts programs at North Vancouver’s Capilano College (BC), 1993-95. (Now known as Capilano University and with the program cut and gone, sadly…) I joked for years after that all i learned was how to better my machine applique from that 2 year period, not knowing how much of the art history and design ethic actually sank in. I’m grateful that it did, finally seeping up from the depths to colour what i am and how i do things almost 20 years later.

acrafty interview - arlee barr tawdry rose 3

acrafty interview - arlee barr hand of the fatherWhat project are you most proud of? AB: All of my work is full of pride and satisfaction. It’s as simple as if it didn’t work and i don’t like it, it never gets shown, or even finished! If i had to choose a favourite piece, it would be like saying i loved one child more than another, but i have a special fondness and memories for “Beautiful Bones” (2009), “Hand of the Father” (2010), “Raggedy Black Heart” (2011) and and my most recent completed piece, “Mother’s Heart”. All of them relate to certain emotional issues i have dealt with: the ubiquitous feelings of mortality and the sense that we are all beautiful and the same under the skin, my father’s death, a friend’s very confused and sad life ending and a response to Mother Nature (and indirectly to my own mother).

acrafty interview - arlee barr beautiful bones

What is the silliest question you’ve received regarding your work? AB: I was working on a complex, cloth woven and hand and machine embroidered piece while waiting in a doctor’s office, and a woman asked me if there was a pattern for it. When i said no, she sniffed and walked away—i think there are people who believe patterns, kits and someone else telling you this MUST be the way to do it and that it’s the ONLY way, is a very sad approach to “creativity” and being either artist or craftsperson. I also get tired of someone scanning over a piece i’ve spent months on by hand, and then asking me if i could make placemats for them. Nope.

acrafty interview - arlee barr haystack

What is your most popular (or bestselling) project? AB: I’m very grateful to have discovered the wonders and mysteries of natural dyeing and ecoprinting. I rarely use any commercial fabrics now, unless they are bits of scrounged or thrift shopped articles. This means that anything i create now is really built from as close to scratch as one can get without actually weaving the cloth first! I “share the wealth” by selling one of a kind fabrics for other artists who incorporate it into their own work.acrafty interview - arlee barr original fabrics

Do you sketch most of your work before you begin, or do you work without a pattern or plan? AB: Yes and no! My sketchbooks are full of very rudimentary scribbles and notes. Words are more important to me as inspiration: bits of poetry, a strange turn of phrase, an overheard bit of conversation. I then audition my fabrics and the one that speaks most emotionally to me is the one i start with. I’d rather have the actual art made than make art of the notes themselves. I’ve seen wonderful sketchbooks from other artists, but for me personally they are a waste of time, a waste of resources, and leave me no energy or inclination for the actual art! I’d rather be making it than planning it. I do lightly audition certain bits in a loose way on some paper, but that’s not always the case or a comfortable way for me to develop what i want to say. The only “serious” sketchbook work i do, is to sometimes do a print out of the base fabric with a few ideas and then overdraw on it where i might use certain stitches or motifs. I keep all of these print outs in a workbook divided into either dates worked on or thematically. I can then look back for ideas for future work, or see how things are evolving, and building a library of personal iconography.

The most important tool i have in the documentation process is my notebook of thread ends with the company, colourway and number recorded: since i do a lot of projects at once, i need to be able to refer back to which threads i have used in each one.acrafty interview - arlee barr imperfect world

 

– End of Part 1

Many thanks to Arlee for her participation in this ACrafty Interview series! Part 2 of her interview will be posted next Thursday, October 17, so stay tuned for the rest of this glimpse into her work. Also thanks to fellow ACrafty Interview subject Betty Busby (original interview and followup) for suggesting that I approach Arlee for the series.

In the meantime, you can follow Arlee’s adventures on her blog, her FacebookFlickr, and her shop

Update: Link to Part 2

Please note that Arlee does not want any of the images that she provided above copied, Pinned, or used in any way without her permission. An excerpt from her Flickr profile: “Please do not add my photos to your Pinterest without asking me–this violates the copyright clause that say *I* have exclusive right to decide where my work is distributed–my photos are ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.”

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 CraftyPodneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamiltonpotter Nancy Germond, basketweaver Tina Puckettquilter and pursemaker Linda Martin, and cross stitcher Meredith Cait.

ACrafty Interview with Linda Martin

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Linda Martin, quilter and pursemaker!

acrafty interview - linda martin bargello quiltWhen did you start crafting? LM: I think I have always worked on craft type projects. I remember as a child getting craft kits as gifts. Making collages, animals, painting, knitting, sewing, and crochet were always something I did. My Mom and Grandma always worked with me on them and taught me many useful skills along the way.

acrafty interview - linda martin painting of son jasonWhat crafts have you tried and what’s your favorite now? LM: I probably have tried most every kind of craft. In addition to those I already mentioned I have made many clothes, curtains, tablecloths and pillows. For many years I painted with oils and acrylics. I made many landscapes, portraits and animal paintings. Working with color and design was always part of my life. My favorite now is quilting. It’s been a natural progression of my interest in color and design projects.

 

 

acrafty interview - linda martin musical quiltWhat project are you most proud of? LM: Right now I’m very proud of a project I created this summer. I was asked by a friend to make a “music” quilt. I thought a lot about it and came up with a very free form kind of create as you go project. Of course I had the help of a friend as we brainstormed ideas back and forth. The quilt took me outside my normal comfort zone of making quilt blocks and putting them together.

acrafty interview - linda martin purse 2Have you ever started a project without a pattern or a plan? LM: I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have some kind of a plan, pattern or design in my head. Sometimes things change along the way, but I have a picture in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

acrafty interview - linda martin seaside quiltHas a project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? LM: Some projects have challenged me for sure, but I have always found a way to complete them. Sometimes I will put a quilt away for a while and let it rest! Really my head usually needs a “vacation” from it while I figure out a way to make it work.

 

How has crafting affected your character? LM: Since I have been making some kind of creative projects most of my life, it’s hard to tell if my character has developed because of my life experiences or creative experiences. I suspect it’s both.

acrafty interview - linda martin purse 1Since I was an elementary school teacher for over 30 years my organizational skills from teaching have certainly help me be better at my creative projects. When I began teaching we had to create our own classroom environment. That gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to draw and paint. I had always been too reticent to to take art classes because of fear of criticism. But as I got compliments and “oh wows” on my work from fellow teachers, my confidence grew. I gradually began painting. This taught me lots of perseverance because painting is very much a developmental process. Observing details is also important to a successful product. (whether it’s painting or quilting). Color and patterns in nature transfer to the finished painting or quilt.

acrafty interview - linda martin regatta quiltEven though I’m no longer painting, many of these skills apply to my sewing and quilting. The balance of color and design elements are also very important. This is often the most important part of the quilt. Without the right balance the quilt will not work. When I finish a project whether it’s a purse or a quilt I’m really proud of it. Sometimes I look at the result and say wow, I did it!

As I’ve gained confidence in my work, I’ve definitely become more adventurous to try new things. This summer I made a landscape and a portrait quilt (wall hangings really)! I guess I was brave to try those things.

acrafty interview - linda martin quiltCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? LM: Some of my friends who are not quilters have been curious about what I do. I have shared my skills with them as well as the process of creating a quilt. I helped and encouraged one to make a purse and a pillow! I have also given many quilts and purses as gifts.

acrafty interview - linda martin purse 3What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? LM: I’d like to continue with making purses and quilts, trying to expand my horizons with new kinds of projects. Another goal of mine is to do more free hand quilting on my long arm quilting machine. That’s a whole other learning curve!

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Linda for taking the time to participate in this ACrafty interview series, and thanks to previous interviewee, jeweler Ron Buhler, for recommending her for the series! Best of luck with the free hand quilting…

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 CraftyPodembroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, needlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpitatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamilton, stone artist Jerry Locke, potter Nancy Germond, and Tina Puckett of Tina’s Baskets.

ACrafty Interview with Tina Puckett of Tina’s Baskets

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Tina Puckett, basket weaver of Tina’s Baskets.

acrafty interview - tinas baskets tina puckett photoWhen did you start crafting? TP: I grew up in South America. We lived as locals, and every week we would go to the open market for the groceries. At the local market there were always local crafts being sold from hats to toys. My parents also decorated our home with local art and crafts. So, I was exposed to crafts at an early age. Being an only child, I found most of my time was spent alone. In those moments, I would build things like tree houses and doll houses. Decorating each from the curtains to the dresses, I was always fascinated by the construction and design. In high school, I spent a lot of time teaching myself how to embroider and took a class in sewing. I studied set design in college with a concentration in construction and design. Then in 1982, I took a course in basket weaving. The first lesson was how to weave an Egg Basket. From that moment on, I have never looked back.

acrafty interview - tinas baskets musical note woven wall hangingWhat crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? TP: I have been weaving for over 30 years now and it is still my favorite craft. I just keep exploring and experimenting with weaving.

 

 

 

 

What is the silliest question you’ve ever received about your craft? TP: The center of my gigantic Sunflower is created by wooded beads that are interwoven. But I am constantly asked “Is that blueberries in the center of the flower?”acrafty interview - tinas baskets sunshine sunflower woven wall hanging

What craft project are you most proud of? TP: Probably the craft project that I am most proud of is that I have created my own technique of weaving called “Dimensional Weave”. I have been able to incorporate it in whatever I am creating.

acrafty interview - tinas baskets circle and curves wall hangingWhat is your most popular (or bestselling) project? TP: There is no particular best selling product of mine. I am fortunate to be able to sell a variety of my works, such as my baskets, bowls, wall hangers, sculpture, flowers, landscapes, and furniture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you ever surprised by the form that results from the materials you’ve chosen for a certain project? TP: Yes, I am pleasantly surprised by the form that results from trying different materials to weave with.

Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? TP: When I am creating a woven sculpture piece it is always like a puzzle. That is the fun in being creative. The challenges that constantly “pop-up” as you go along creating and how unexpectedly the solution comes to you in a graceful way. I do have a partial vision on how the woven works will come out when I start and I am always pleasantly surprised with the finished product.acrafty interview - tinas baskets woven table base

How has crafting affected your character? TP: I am…

  • Patient: Basket weaving has made me a “Basket Case”…LOL!!! When weaving, one needs patience because it takes a lot of time to weave.
  • Grateful: I am always grateful when it comes out beautifully.
  • acrafty interview - tinas baskets orange tray weavingOrganized: When one has taken their craft and created it into a business, organization is very important to run the business.
  • Supportive: I get a lot of support from craft shows by the public’s reaction to my woven works.
  • Adventurous: I am adventurous all the time when trying to create something new and different. Also, the business has led me to adventure into travelling all throughout the US doing craft and art shows.
  • Persistent: I think that weaving and running my business for over 30 years is being pretty persistent. I am determined to show the world my woven works and to support myself.
  • acrafty interview - tinas baskets large basketProactive: Proactive you say… Acting in advance to deal with an expected change in the piece I am working on or difficulty in weaving the piece… no, I cannot be proactive, I can only solve the problem when it occurs and sometimes I have to walk away and then when I come back to it, it gets resolved. I never walk away for more than 12 hours, and I only work on one piece at a time.
  • Independent: My independence is the ability to express myself through my woven works.
  • Diverse: I enjoy the ability to be diverse in what I am weaving from a basket to a sculpture.
  • Imaginative: I find it a lot of fun to let my imagination see all the different forms the Bittersweet vines can take.
  • Observant: To be observant to me means to be attentive, careful and accurate in my weaving.
  • Expressive: In my woven works, I try to have it express joy, happiness and love.
  • Consistent: I am always consistent in trying to create new woven products and to achieve a more beautiful woven piece of Art.

Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? TP: From my experience being in my booth at shows I can say that I affect people in a positive way. Because so many people say to me that they like my woven works because it makes them feel happy and they can see how much I enjoy what I create.acrafty interview - tinas baskets woven headboard and end table base

What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? TP: I can’t tell you what crafty goodness is coming in the future, but I do know that I have a lot of interesting pieces of Bittersweet vines shapes that are ready for my imagination… I just have to step into my studio and “let it all flow”… That is what is appealing to me, to let it flow and not force it… and wonders shall never cease in what I can create.

Many thanks to Tina for participating in this ACrafty interview series! As the photos show, her works are vibrant, unique, and beautiful. I hope you’re able to see them in person as she travels to various craft shows and from her Connecticut studio… You can follow Tina’s adventures on her website!

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 CraftyPodembroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, the multi-talented David Tedinneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpi, tatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamilton, stone artist Jerry Locke, and potter Nancy Germond.

ACrafty Interview with Nancy Germond

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Nancy Germond, potter for Germond Designs.

freedomWhen did you start crafting? NG: I started crafting when I was really little – my favorite baby sitter used to spend hours drawing with me and my mom taught me to sew back in elementary school. I’ve been crafting since I’ve been walking!

 

 

acrafty interview with nancy germond '70s red birdWhat crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? NG: I have tried everything from painting to macrame to knitting to decoupage to metal stamping. Clay is my current favorite medium because it is SO versatile and it has allowed me to incorporate many different crafts such as silk screening and painting.

 

Nest with Green EggsWhat is the silliest question you’ve ever received about your craft? NG: I once completed a tile backsplash for a client and she asked if the design would wipe off if she used water… practical question from her perspective but what kind of backsplash would that have been?!

 

 

Nancy Jean & Lima BeanWhat craft project are you most proud of? NG: I am super proud of my most recent sculpture – the inspiration was a 7000 mile road trip towing a 1975 trailer. The sculpture is a self portrait of me, with the wind in my hair, popping out of the top of the trailer’s ceiling (see picture). It’s titled “Nancy Jean and Lima Bean.”

 

 

 

What is your most popular (or bestselling) project? NG: My doodle bowls are very popular and I have many customers who keep growing their collection. Each bowl has a unique design and the size is perfect.
Doodle Bowl Grouping #2

 

Gold Aqua BowlHas a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? NG: Getting organized enough to travel with my art booth was quite challenging – thank goodness I have the Lima Bean! On my first out of state show, my car was packed with my pottery and my tent and shelves were packed into the camper. After my 12 hour first leg of the journey, I pulled into a KOA campground, crawled over the supplies and slept on my little twin bed. The golden rule is NO pottery packed into the trailer – it would end up in many, many pieces after the first bump in the road.

BlackBirdLIteBlueDotsHow has crafting affected your character? NG: Devoting 100% of my time to making art was a huge leap of faith but one I had to take! It can be challenging to make art that you hope someone will like enough to purchase but I’ve learned to trust myself and ‘go’ with it. I constantly quell the thoughts of self doubt and replace them with gratitude, thankfulness and joy at being able to do art full-time. I never have to ‘make’ myself do art – it’s something I always enjoy and ‘must do’ to be happy – like breathing and exercise. This summer, I made the decision to apply to art shows in Colorado so I could escape the crazy Texas heat – I call that ‘creating my own universe’ as well as creating my own art!

Bird and RosesCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? NG: After an art show at my house, a good friend of mine decided she could also follow her passion – baking. It’s a great story – Amanda and her mom, Kit started the venture called Tiny Pies. Since starting the company in 2010, they have been written up in Oprah Magazine and recently appeared with Katie Couric. While their success is due to a fantastic product and lots of hard work, I like to think that my decision to follow my passion inspired them.

Navajo Wisdom BowlWhat is the one question you’ve never been asked about your craft that you’ve always wanted to answer? NG: Hmmm – that would have to be “Would you be interested in having your product for sale in Anthropologie?!” followed by “Sorry, we won’t be able to pay you in dollars – would you accept bartering your pottery for our fabulous clothes?”

 

Grasshopper Butter dishWhat crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? NG: [Some new pieces made their premier at a show in Salida, Colorado on August 10-11.] I love the interaction with people at art shows – it’s always interesting to see which pieces sell and to whom. I was super excited to sell a grasshopper butter dish to a woman whose husband worked for Grasshopper Mower- how perfect is that?! I am a total extrovert so while I love creating my pottery in my studio, I live for customer interactions at art shows! I am also excited to be back in the studio later in the month; I want to make some little wall plaques to sell at my next show in Durango late September.

Thanks so much to Nancy for participating in this ACrafty interview series! I saw her lovely booth at an art show a few weeks ago and was drawn in immediately. Nancy really struck me with her open and positive attitude and I hope you will be able to meet her and see her lovely works in person!

You can follow Nancy’s adventures on her websiteFacebook, and she’s aiming to really fire up her Etsy shop in September.

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 CraftyPodembroiderer Sasha of What. No Mints?embroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, the multi-talented David Tedinneedlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpi, and tatter and chainmailler Jeff Hamilton.

ACrafty Interview with Jeff Hamilton

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.
Bookmark Exchange

Stainless Steel Byzantine Yin Yang Chainmaille PendantWhat 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.

Coral Reef DragonWhat 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.

 

 

 

acrafty interview - jeff hamilton tatted windmills doily

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.

acrafty interview - jeff hamilton tatted betta fish

Tri Metal Serrated Byzantine Chainmaille EarringsDo 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.
Chinese Dragon

acrafty interview - jeff hamilton tatted canadian flagHow 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.

Spinning Wheel Glass MatCan 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.

 

Beaded Byzantine Chainmaille BraceletWhat 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.

 

Gecko for ShirtWhat 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).

You can follow Jeff’s adventures on his blogFlickr, and Etsy.

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 CraftyPodembroiderer Sasha of What. No Mints?jeweler Ron Buhlerembroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, the multi-talented David Tedin, and needlepointer Haruhi Okubo of Cresus-Parpi.

ACrafty Interview with Cresus Parpi

Welcome to this ACrafty Interview with Cresus Parpi! Haruhi Okubo is the creative mind behind the creative and intricate needlepoint of Cresus-Parpi.

acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - hanabana floral needlepointWhen did you start crafting? HO: I started that when I was an elementary school student. I was taught art by my father and handcraft by my mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? HO: I have tried embroidery, knitting and crochet, patchwork quilt, hand weaving, dressmaking, and hooked rug. My current favorite is needlepoint.acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - mwwm bright yellow wave interference needlepoint project

acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - impromptu coaster set 16 needlepointWhat is your most popular (or bestselling) project? HO: The impromptu coaster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - gaso needlepoint clutchHave you ever started a project without a pattern or plan? HO: The pattern is usually drawn on the canvas by freehand, after having drawn some ideas in a sketchbook.

As for the GASO series and some others, the pattern is made with a PC.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the biggest craft project you have ever attempted? HO: The (90 cm square [35 in. square]) zigzag drive rag rug.acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - zigzag drive rag rug

acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - impromptu coaster set 5 needlepointWhat craft project are you most proud of? HO: The coaster series. I made a plan to make 100 pieces of them. And I achieved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? HO: My eyesight failed rapidly by this work. I thought that I should have made it with more low count canvas (this project used 40 H.P.I. [holes per inch] silk gauze). [Note: Haruhi typically uses 10 H.P.I. canvas]acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - hina dolls tiny needlepoint

acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - impressionist sweater knittingHow has crafting affected your character? Has it made you more patient, grateful, organized, supportive, adventurous, persistent, proactive, independent, diverse, imaginative, observant, expressive, consistent, brave, calm, etc.? HO: All of those, and taking good care of things (recycling, ecology). Even the scrap of thread and cloth can become the necessary materials. Like [a] patchwork quilt or hooked rug or embroidery for strengthen[ing] cloth (sashiko), etc… The number of times to throw away my old clothes decreased.

 

 

Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? HO: There was the person who dropped tears to see my works. They seemed to be impressed… arigato…acrafty interview - cresus-parpi - shikaku colorful squares needlepoint cushion

What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? HO: I want to challenge a work of large size, because I made many works of small size. I think that it will be the tapestry by the needlepoint.

Many thanks to Haruhi for giving us a glimpse into her craft. Being a needlepointer myself, I am an enormous fan of her work. The creativity, the quality, and the speed at which she creates these pieces always impresses me. In fact, the first time I saw her stunning MWWM Bright Yellow work (second picture down in this post), I’m sure I caught my breath. I highly encourage everyone to look at the Cresus-Parpi Flickr Photostream and see all the pieces that I couldn’t include in this post.

You can follow the adventures of Cresus-Parpi on her websiteFlickr, and Etsy. She also sells some of her pieces through the TakeHeartShop in Austin, Texas, and you can read more about her clutch bags and her history at the ShopFloorProject.

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 CraftyPodcross stitcher Katie Kutthroatembroiderer Sasha of What! No Mints?quilter Betty Busby, embroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!, and the multi-talented David Tedin.

Book Review: Crochet Saved My Life by Kathryn Vercillo

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of finding the CrochetConcupiscence blog. Kathryn’s work on that blog, rounding up the best of crochet from around the web, is to be lauded. Not only does CrochetConcupiscence cover the best in patterns and projects, but also the best in what crochet can do FOR crafters.

Her book, Crochet Saved My Life, is a thorough summary of the benefits of crochet. Through a combination of interviews, article research, and her own personal experience, Kathryn explains the benefits of crochet for mental conditions including depression, anxiety, OCD and addiction, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, for physical conditions such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, restless leg syndrome, and Menière’s disease, and as a tool in occupational therapy.

The book isn’t “light reading,” but Kathryn keeps the writing interesting and direct. The stories around her own experience as well as the two dozen other people she interviewed are presented matter-of-factly – as a way to demonstrate how crochet has benefited their particular situations. And the benefits are many: calmness, focus, relaxation, creativity, productivity, generosity, and increased self-esteem just to name a few.

a crochet hook heartAlthough the book focuses on crochet, as a needlepointer and cross stitcher, I know that I definitely experience the same benefits as Kathryn’s crocheters. Fortunately, I do not suffer from any of mental or physical conditions mentioned in the book, but I still benefit from my craft. Indeed, I tend to think of my needlework as a bit of preventive medicine! I can easily see how many of the same benefits apply toward other crafts – knitting, scrapbooking, woodworking, gardening, pottery, beading, weaving, jewelry making, quilting, just to name a few.

Polymer Clay Crochet Hook HandlesI would recommend this book to anyone dealing with any of the mental or physical conditions listed above either with yourself or with a loved one. I would also go as far as to say that psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, counselors, gerontologists, life coaches, and other professionals in mental and physical health would find this book a very valuable resource in their toolkits.

One final, rather curious, comment about this book. In her chapter on depression, one of the topics Kathryn covers is the sense of touch. She mentions that “a fuzzy pet can be a great comfort,” and that “the feel of working with yarn can be one of those healing touch options” as well. Well, I found the book itself to have a similar beneficial effect! To be specific, the feel of the edge of the book and quickly flipping the pages with my thumb had a very calming effect. In fact, I found myself thumbing the pages almost unconsciously while I was reading. Fascinating!

Visit CrochetConcupiscence for the latest in crochet trends and benefits. And visit CrochetSavedMyLife.com for more about the book and Kathryn’s work.

ACrafty Interview with Ellen Schinderman

Welcome to this ACrafty Interview with Ellen Schinderman, artist, curator, and frequently NSFW needleworker.

acrafty interview - schinderman - beshert - fated one embroideryWhen did you start crafting? ES: i was always a crafty kid, my favorite thing was always to hang out and make something. i learned needlework young, probably at 7 or 8 years of age.

 

 

 

 

 

What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? ES: i’ve tried a lot of stuff, book binding, stained glass making, ceramics, batik and dying, you name it, i’ve probably tried it at some point. i’m very lucky in that i went to very artsy schools and camps as a kid, but i’m a stitcher, that’s what makes me calm and happy.

acrafty interview - schinderman - nude woman embroidered doily 2What is the silliest question you’ve ever received about your craft? ES: do you make your art from personal experience? it’s ridiculous! just because it’s dirty doesn’t mean i’m a porn star, folks.

 

 

 

 

 

acrafty interview - schinderman - portait of mother as a young woman large scale cross stitchWhat craft project are you most proud of? ES: i’m loving what i’m doing now, large-scale cross stitch, and i’m awfully proud of the portrait of my mom that i did. i’m also pretty proud of curating stitch shows in galleries that are not “craft” oriented.

 

 

 

 

 

acrafty interview - schinderman - large scale spock star trek cross stitchWhat’s the biggest craft project you’ve ever tackled? ES: these large scale cross stitches are big. the one of my mom is 2’x3′. i am working (slowly) on a piece that is another family photo (doing a whole series of my family in the ’70s) which will be 6’x10′. i’m out of my head.

 

 

 

 

acrafty interview - schinderman - nancy drew embroideryHas a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? ES: not sure. i’ve had projects be more challenging than i thought they would be, or i’ve realized i could have done something in a better or swifter, more practical way, after the fact, but nothing comes to mind in particular.

 

 

acrafty interview - schinderman - nude woman embroidered doily 1How has crafting affected your character? ES: making visual art has changed me a lot – though i think i was already changing or i wouldn’t have wound up doing this. it has slowed me down, which is great, and i find myself now in a part of a wonderful community, both online and in the LA artworld, that I didn’t feel prior (i was a writer and an actor, studied at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts). I’m also proud of me! I always admired people who could make something and felt my art was so ephemeral, as i mostly did theatre. i love that i make tangible things someone can buy and take home!

acrafty interview - schinderman - lesbian scene needlepointCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? ES: i’ve shocked some people. mostly people giggle and i love watching them interact with my art, realizing it’s stitched, hand made, dirty… i’ve also had a lot of lovely emails from people i’ve worked with as a curator, who’ve been terribly kind in saying that my work, or my calls for art have inspired them to begin stitching again, or to make a certain thing that they wouldn’t have considered.

 

 

What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? ES: i have a bunch of group shows i’m in here in LA, a group show in NYC in dec, curating the second edition of Stitch Fetish at the Hive in LA in feb, and beyond that, working on this series of my family. and i’m sure there will be random racy pieces in the meantime.

Thanks so much, Ellen, for taking the time to share some of yourself with us! Best of luck with your large scale projects – I look forward to seeing them.

You can follow Ellen’s adventures on her website, tumblr, blog, Etsy, and Facebook page.

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 CraftyPodquilter Betty Busbycross stitcher Katie Kutthroat, potter Chris Tedinembroiderer Sasha of What. No Mints?, and jeweler Ron Buhler.