ACrafty Interview with Sylvia Windhurst

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with Sylvia Windhurst!

Green Embroidered Heart TrioWhen did you start crafting? Did anyone help get you started or did you find your own way? SW: My mother is an artist. She is a printmaker as well as an expert knitter and seamstress. We were always encouraged to be creative, and I spent many hours drawing, sewing, and creating strange hats using scrap yarn and crochet hooks that my mother supplied. One of my favorite activities was doll making – creating a body out of a clothes pin or pipe cleaners and creating an outfit out of what ever materials we could find. I definitely credit my mother for fostering a creative atmosphere in our home and I hope I did the same for my daughter who is on her way to becoming a fine photographer.

Group of Beaded Bead Flying Saucer EarringsI actually have a fine arts degree in printmaking and continued to draw and paint for several years after graduating. Gradually as my professional life and family took up more of my time, I stopped painting and drawing. I have a full time job as a graphic artist/prepress technician, and thus spent my time designing, retouching and preparing the designs of other graphic artists for printing or web publication. Over the ensuing years, I really began to miss the idea of creating something unique with my own hands. I started going to life drawing classes and then began embroidering again. Then purely by accident about 8 years ago I saw some beaded jewelry online made with off loom bead weaving techniques – I loved the look and started learning both bead weaving and bead embroidery techniques. I am self taught – and I give credit to the many great craft bloggers out there who are willing to share their knowledge online as well as the crafters who took the time to post great YouTube instructional videos. I also invested in a small library of beading books and spent many night practicing and creating.

About the term craft — I think the term craft and art can be interchangeable – sometimes I think when something is termed a craft people look at it as a hobby – not something serious, so I like to think of myself as a bead and fiber artist and crafter. There are many people who create wonderfully artistic items using techniques considered “craft”. For example, last year I bought handcrafted brooms an from an artisan in Oregon. Not only are they lovingly handcrafted, functional brooms but they are aesthetically appealing and wonderful works of art as well.

French Lavender Sachet Embroidered Flowers Satin RibbonWhat crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? SW: I dabbled briefly in stained glass and did not love it. However, if it has anything to do with beads, fabric, and thread, I am in heaven. I am still primarily a beader and hand embroiderer, but am incorporating my machine sewing skills into my work a bit more now. I also have played with polymer clay a little to make my own cabochons and that is something I want to continue exploring in the future.

What is your favorite craft book? SW: I don’t have a favorite, but I think Robin Atkins has written some nice beading books. Mastering Beadwork by Carol Huber Cypher is a great reference book for beaders.

There are also some really great bloggers in the beading world. Inspirational Beading and Beading Arts are two nice blogs that come to mind. Both are informative and share a lot of information.

Purple Paisley Embroidered Wide Felt Cuff with Ombre Color ShadingHow have your crafts changed over time? SW: They have changed most definitely. I think my technique is far better than when I first started – and I have a lot more ideas now. I am willing to take more risks, and am also more willing to admit when something isn’t working and start again rather than being stubborn and investing more time in a project that just isn’t coming together.

 

Are you a person who is comfortable playing with color, or do you work better with color palettes you find – say, in photos or in nature? SW: I love color, and am always playing with it.

Boho Beaded HoopsRed and Black Beaded Sterling Hoops
Pale Blue Teardrop Beaded Sterling Hoops with Purple, Green and Orange Accents

Those are three examples of color palettes I have used in my beaded hoop earrings.

Nature's Jewel NecklaceI was inspired by the iridescent colors on a beetle for this one. Not only are the colors unusual, but the piece ended up having a bit of an ancient Egyptian style to it, which I also liked.

 

 

 

What craft project are you most proud of? SW: It’s a toss up.

Bollywood Bib Necklace with MalachiteThis Bollywood inspired bib necklace is a statement piece that took me many hours. What makes it special to me is the weblike gold embroidery I created in the background. It just adds something unique to the piece.

 

 

 

 

Moss Green Forest Fairy Cuff with Agate FocalThis cuff is another piece that I am very fond of. It has painted leather leaves and embroidery combined with bead weaving and bead embroidery. Despite the fact that I used so many techniques in one piece I think the monochromatic palette keeps the design cohesive.

 

 

 

 

What is your most popular (or bestselling) project? SW: My beaded hoops are my best selling items. I have also done well with my cyclops pieces. I have a stash of realistic doll eyes which I used in little treasure boxes and a few stuffed creatures.

Mexican Folk Art Inspired Embroidered Cyclops Dragonfly Soft Sculpture Bead Embroidered Cyclops Gold Treasure Box

They are definitely on the odd side, which I like, and surprisingly sold quite well. I plan to make more cyclops boxes in the near future.

Moss and Burgundy Embroidered Tapestry Necklace with Vintage Rhinestones

Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? SW: I think the challenge is ongoing – I keep a notebook with me at all times to jot down ideas. A lot of times the translation of that idea into a workable project isn’t always smooth. Sometimes I have to experiment and accept when a technique isn’t working well and be willing to start over again. Also, I tend to be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to supplies and I need to remind myself that instead of constantly buying new supplies I need to find creative solutions to design issues using existing supplies.

Green and Gold Abstraction BraceletHow has crafting affected your character? SW: It has definitely made me more patient and persistent. I also find it calming. I initially started creating beaded jewelry and embroidered objects as a calming therapy after getting home from my “day job.” Even after starting to sell my work and running an online store, I still find the act of creating calming. The repetitive nature of beadweaving is particularly therapeutic.

 

Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? SW: I had made a cuff inspired by Boudica, the Irish Warrior Queen. It had a shield like shape (kind of like Wonder Woman’s arm pieces!) and a lovely brown, gold and green color scheme with an celtic knot symbol on it. A woman purchased it and messaged me saying that she had been suffering from some serious personal issues and that in recovering she had used Boudica as an inspirational figure, which was why she purchased the cuff.

Pink and Blue Microorganism BroochWhat crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? SW: I am starting to play with hand painted fabrics as a base for my embroidery and bead embroidery. I am still in the experiment phase for the most part right now, although I did make a small series of brooches using fabric I had painted. The photo here shows an example:

I am also planning to play with polymer clay and make some cabochons to use. I have only used polymer clay a little bit but I am amazed at some of the fantastic things artists have created with this medium. I would love to take a class in metal polymer clay – I just have to find one that fits in with my schedule and is geographically convenient!

Many thanks to Sylvia sharing her art and craft with us and for participating in this ACrafty Interview series! You can follow Sylvia’s ongoing adventures on her blog, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, and her Etsy shop.

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 Hamiltonbasketweaver Tina Puckettcross stitcher Meredith Cait, the two part interview with textile artist Arlee Barr, Halloween costume maker Justin Newton, and multi-crafter Pam Harris of Gingerbread Snowflakes.

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 WhatNoMints

Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with WhatNoMints! Sasha is a nature lover, scientist, and the heart of What. No Mints?

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - sasha2When did you start crafting? SW: It’s hard for me to pinpoint an exact time when I began crafting. As a kid, I constantly looked for an excuse to stretch my creative fingers – I took a few art classes to learn the basics and always overdid any school project that came my way (I remember creating a pretty epic plant cell for high school biology). I would say that I really started sharing my work with others about 4 years ago after I graduated college – I had a little more free time and (because I can’t sit still for too long) decided to jump back into crafting with both feet!

 

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - alligator in feltWhat crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? SW: My love affair with crafts started with acrylic paint. My parents’ house had a large unfinished basement where I would sit for hours, painting my favorite photos from magazines, etc. But college and post-graduation life has since pushed us into tiny apartments where room for easels, dirty paintbrushes and canvases are limited. My materials have since switched from paint to fiber and I now try to achieve my creative goals using embroidery floss, felt and assorted linens. I have really grown to love embroidery and enjoy trying new designs and stitching techniques!

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - final frontier starry embroidery hoopWhat’s your most popular (or bestselling) project? SW: I would have to say that my embroidery hoop art pieces are my bestsellers – I usually just sew whatever crazy thought/animal/design that comes to mind. Luckily, there seem to be a bunch of other people out there who share my interests and sense of humor because even my quirkier pieces (like my “Baller” mason jar) sell like hotcakes!

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - anhinga bird embroidery What craft project are you most proud of? SW: My most prized embroidery piece is actually not available for purchase. I moved to south Florida 2 years ago to begin work on my PhD in environmental chemistry. I have since fallen in love with the Everglades and the anhinga has become one of my favorite animals. This “snakebird” is as clumsy and awkward on land as it is quick and agile in the water. Unlike a duck, it lacks an oily coating on its feathers. Therefore, after going for a dip, it needs to stand in the sun, wings outstretched, for lengthy periods of time to dry. Their persona and lifestyle are both intriguing and amusing. After sewing the likeness of this wonderful creature, I realized I just could not let it go.

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - packaged parameciumWhat’s the biggest craft project you’ve ever tackled? SW: I remember my first wholesale order of 45 hand-sewn ornaments to be a little daunting. “45” doesn’t seem like such a huge number, but then you have to remember to multiply by 2 for the number of woolen shapes to be cut and factor the time it takes to sew each unique ornament by hand. After completing the first few ornaments, I was worried I had bitten off more than I could chew. But I remembered to be relaxed and work on the project in segments so as not to be too overwhelmed. In the end, the collection of wool ornaments was perfect and lovely and shipped on time!

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - spoonbill embroidery in progressHas a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? SW: I can’t say that I’ve experienced any unexpected challenges while working on a project. Embroidery floss gets tangled, stitches need to be pulled and redone, entire designs fail and must be scrapped, etc. These are all just regular hurdles that those working with a needle and thread face! I almost welcome these challenges, because they make the enjoyment of finishing a piece that much sweeter.

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - spoonbill embroidery finishedHow has crafting affected your character? SW: I think sewing has made me a more placid person. With the workload of being a full-time graduate student, I have a tendency to not know when to stop. Oftentimes I’m the first one in lab in the morning and the last one to leave at night – Even my advisor tells me I work too much! Needlework still allows me to learn and accomplish new things, while giving the left side of my brain a break from scientific undertakings.

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - fox in feltCan you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? SW: I think my Mom has been most affected by my crafting – She cannot get her hands on enough of my pieces!! Her home is riddled with a whole bunch of my hand-sewn items. Now that I live 1300 miles away from home, I think it’s a way for her to still keep me close 🙂

ACrafty Interview - whatnomints - sasha photo 1What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? SW: The following creatures are currently on my “to-sew” list: golden orb-weaver (a giant 5-inch spider), green heron and leaf notcher weevil. I am constantly being inspired by my environment – I love to photograph the tropical critters that live around us and transform them into embroidery art. I would also like to come up with some mythical animal patterns and create 3D soft sculptures with wool felt. These designs could include anything from dragons to hybrid animals like an allipanther (body of a panther with the head of an alligator). Sewing gives me the freedom to create literally anything that comes to mind – I love that.

Many thanks to Sasha for participating in this interview. I first fell in love with her paramecium magnets and it’s just gone uphill from there (her recent dragon piece is terrific)! I look forward to seeing all her future explorations and creations…

You can follow Sasha’s crafty adventures on her blog, Twitter, Pinterest, and her Etsy shop!

Would you like to be a part of this ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPodknitter Apockylypsequilter Betty Busby, cross stitcher Katie Kutthroat, and potter Chris Tedin!

ACrafty Interview with Apockylypse

Welcome to this ACrafty Interview with Apockylypse! Today we’re peeking into Kelly’s viking-helmeted skull and her knitting goodness.

When did you start crafting? K: In all honesty, I would probably say I’ve been crafting my entire life. I’ve always been the creative sort, whether it be drawing pictures for parents/grandmothers or taking objects to create something else. I had quite the imagination as a little girl. /* who am I kidding, I still do! */acrafty interview with Apockylypse viking hat photo two

But if I had to give a specific age of my first memories of crafting, I would have to say the one that stands out is when I was 4 or 5 & played “Pins and Needles” with my Mimmy. For crafty sorts you would more commonly know it as cross stitch. That was actually my first experience with designing too!

We took a plain white cloth and I told Mimmy what I wanted to make. She drew, ever so neatly, x’s in the pattern I described. Gave me a threaded needle in the color I picked & then I was set loose. Poking the needle up until I found the right mark. /* hence the name “pins and needles”. */

What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? K: It might take up less time if you had asked me what crafts I haven’t tried. You see, I’m a bit of a craftaholic and I love to learn new crafts any chance I get. But I guess I’ll give you the answer you are looking for:

  • Cross Stitch
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Macramé
  • Felting
  • Drawing
  • Beading
  • Loom Knitting
  • And there are probably some others that I’m forgetting at the moment, but if it’s not on the list that just means I haven’t had a chance to learn it yet.

My favorite? Yikes! That’s almost like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. But I guess I would have to say knitting. It’s my crafting paradise because I can always seem to get lost in the stitches and escape all the crap the zombie job sticks in my head after hours. Plus I just love sweaters!

What craft project are you most proud of? K: I would have to say any of the sweaters I have made as gifts for family. For the most part I stick to hats since most of my friends and family love the hats I make, but I wanted to challenge myself and do something for family. I was proud not only because they turned out well, but I actually finished them. It was quite the project! If you’ve ever hand knit a sweater, you know what I mean.

If you’re a seller, what is your most popular project? KM: I don’t have an online shop yet, but I have sold a few things to friends and at a few local craft shows. So far the biggest seller has been my plain crocheted beanies, but that’s starting to become a close second to the Viking beanies I’ve been making lately.

My mister wanted one to wear to various cons and once I posted pictures of the finished product I started getting messages from people I didn’t even know that saw it on his page or through a friend. And I have to say that the Viking hat has definitely become one of my favorites to make. It’s just so darn epic!acrafty interview with Apockylypse viking hat photo

Has a craft or craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? K: Oh I’ve been challenged, but the way I look at it is that it’s just another awesome puzzle to piece together. And boy do I love me some puzzles!

There was one project I was working on where the gauge (stitches per inch) was incredibly important to be spot on. I knit up a swatch that matched perfect, but when I cast on for the actual project and got a few inches in things didn’t match up. But I wasn’t going to let this project beat me!

Instead of sitting it aside, I started scouring every craft book and site I could think of…trying to learn that one secret that would help me understand it all better. See? I told you I always want to learn more about crafting!

How has crafting affected your character? K: I can’t really say that crafting has changed me because I really can’t remember life before crafting. But I will say that it does have a wonderful effect on my mood.

There have been many times when the zombie job has stressed me out or frustrated me so incredibly much. And while coming home to my mister and furbabies definitely helps calm me, nothing seems to do it quite like crafting. Like I said before, it lets me escape to another world that is my happiest of places. And depending on the project, it could be a fantasy world where anything is possible.

I’ve seen many a knitter say “I knit so that I don’t kill people” and there really is some truth in that. I honestly think I would be in the looney bin if it wasn’t for something as simple as sticks and string. It’s almost as calming to me as meditating.

I also believe I can thank crafting for my thirst for knowledge and amazing puzzle solving skills. Some may say it’s my math brain that allows me to do a book of Sudoku like it’s nothing, but I think crafting might have a little bit to do with it too! You are always piecing things together. Matching things up. Or finding ways to fix little mistakes or mishaps.

Another funny thing about knitting. You hear so many people say that they aren’t patient enough for it, but you know what? Some of the most impatient people I know are amazing knitters!acrafty interview with Apockylypse knit needle yarn scissors

Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? K: Well I have been told by many friends how I’ve inspired them to learn to knit or crochet. Sometimes it has to do with the projects I’m making, but a lot of them see how excited I get about making things with my hands and they want to give it a go. I have to say that I am a creativity advocate. There is nothing that makes me happier than being able to watch my loved ones express themselves through handmade things and see all the amazing pieces that are a product of that. So what amazing project do you have inside you? I know there is one!

That reminds me! I need to go grab some sticks and string to take over to my in-laws house. My mother-in-law has asked me to teach her to knit. She expressed the desire to find a hobby and is always intrigued by my knitting.

What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? K: I have a few more Viking hats to make, but one thing I’m super excited about is my future online shop. I have dreamed of the day that I could quit my zombie job and do the craft thing full-time. I mean, it is my passion! I don’t have an exact date of when that will happen because I’m working on designs and acquiring some funds to get it going, but if you keep your eyes on my blog or other social media I know you will be hearing about when that day comes.

Thanks so much, Kelly! Best of luck with your future shop…

You can follow Apockylypse’s adventures on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest

Would you like to be a part of this ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with knitter Sabrina, cross stitcher WhateverJames, and multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPod!

ACrafty Interview with Diane Gilleland of CraftyPod

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.acrafty interview craftypod spring easter craft mosaic

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.

acrafty interview craftypod plastic canvas robotsWhat 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.

 

acrafty interview craftypod kanzashi in bloom book coverIf 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.

 

 

 

 

acrafty interview craftypod quiltblock coastersHas 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.

acrafty interview craftypod plastic canvas minecraft blocksHow 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.

acrafty interview craftypod quilted hexagon coastersCan 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.

acrafty interview craftypod quilting happiness book coverWhat 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!

You also might like to see the ACrafty Interviews featuring knitter Sabrina Larson and cross stitcher WhateverJames

The Benefits of Traveling

I’ve led a charmed life when it comes to traveling, and it just keeps going. I’ve been in 47 of the 50 States (Michigan, Wisconsin and Alabama remain), and I’ve done some extensive traveling through Europe and Asia. Another trip to Europe is in the planning stages, and currently on my list of places I want to go (and haven’t been before) are Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

benefits of traveling - fantastic french patio tile patternOne of my benefits of traveling is that I’ve gathered some great inspiration for craft projects from traveling. I’ve got patterns ready to test stitch based on this patio from a hotel near Toulouse, France:

 

 

 

benefits of traveling - colorful geometric floor of a bar in spainThis floor could inspire some great designs someday. It’s from a bar in a tiny town in Spain:

 

 

 

 

benefits of traveling - italian tiled wallThis gorgeous wall from a hotel near Norcia (pronounced Nor-CHA), Italy is full of potential:

 

 

 

 

newton needlework pattern - inspired by the entry tile of the Hunter mansion in Newton IowaThis project is based on a tile pattern in the entry of a house in Newton, Iowa (you can read more about it here):

 

[Wow, does anyone think I like geometric patterns yet?]

 

benefits of traveling - portion of the ceiling of the Piccolimini Library, Duomo di Siena, ItalyAnd don’t even get me started on the Piccolimini Library of the Duomo in Siena, Italy:

 

 

 

 

One of the other benefits of traveling, REAL traveling, is that it’s one of the best ways of learning about yourself and the world. When I say REAL traveling, I don’t mean cruises or all-inclusive resorts. I mean going somewhere off the highways and motorways, finding your own way from town to town, ordering food in restaurants where you don’t recognize anything on the menu, and buying groceries where you don’t speak the language.

This short post by Trish at GirlsOnTheWay is one of the best accounts I’ve read about the benefits of traveling and what REAL traveling can teach you. I’ve traveled with a backpack in a similar way and I agree with her post one hundred percent. I especially appreciate her third point: “Material goods don’t matter. At all.” This is so true. There is very little you NEED. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Read Trish’s post – it’s worth every second of your time.

benefits of traveling - portion of the ceiling of a church in Oloron Sainte MarieThese days I’m fortunate enough that I can take my crafts with me as I travel. If I’m not stitching, then I’m collecting inspirations or designing future projects. This is a portion of the ceiling of a church in Oloron Saint Marie, France. I’d love to design a project with these gorgeous motifs someday…

 

 

 

 

Have you seen the benefits of traveling in ways that Trish has mentioned? Are you able to take your crafts with you on your travels? We’d love to hear about it! Please comment and share your experiences…