This may very well be the Longest Post Ever on this here blog. Below are my answers to all the 100th CraftyPod questions we couldn’t fit in the podcast. Thank you to everyone who submitted one!
I’ve done my best to get all your links in here. If I missed yours, please email me and I’ll fix it. Also, whew!
Do you ever dream about crafting? This is a multi-question question. Do you ever go to a museum, for example, and see so many things that rock your world that you suddenly start dreaming about making bronze sculptures or bas reliefs? I guess my point is, you are so prolific and multi-dimensional, do you ever find your crafting life working its way into your fantasy life in odd ways that could never translate to reality? – Chris
Wow. Now, THERE’s a question. :-)
Actually, though, I’m a terribly literal crafter. I always think in terms of something having a use. I have to work to get myself thinking in a purely creative, fantasy realm.
I know you’re a self-employed person working in the Crafts Industry (Hope that comes out in the positive way I mean it to be). Have you had to make changes in the way you choose projects and materials to suit chasing a paycheck, or are you still able to soothe your own internal craftiness while paying the Light & Gas bill?
And how are you able (if you are able) to step away from what the General Public thinks of crafting — like church bazarrs and grey hair crocheters working TP covers to match your favorite NFL team? (Know what I mean?) – Liz
I may not be a great person to answer this question, actually. I don’t tend to follow trends, or tailor my crafting to any kind of mainstream popularity. Honestly, I think the crafts industry as a whole has a ways to go before it catches up to the innovation and engagement of our online culture.
Not to mention, it’s not easy to make crafting your living and still retain a love for it as a hobby. So I try to make everything I do as authentically “me” as possible. There’s far, far less money in this approach, it should be said! But it feels right to me.
Incidentally, I think that the best approach for anyone looking to make a living in crafts is to diversify. What can you do in addition to selling your handmade items? Can you teach classes? Write for magazines or websites? Sell patterns?
How do you structure your day? It seems you have a lot of things going on and I’m curious how your plan it all out. – Lydia
Well, if there is any structure, it’s loose! I start early and work until about 7pm. In the morning, I usually write blog posts, look for good links to share on Twitter, and respond to comments and emails. Then, after some kind of exercise, I dive into project work.
I do like having lots of projects going on at once. I live by a To-Do list that covers only this week’s tasks, so I don’t get overwhelmed. I inherited some of my Mom‘s ability to break complex projects into little steps (although she’s waaaay better at it than me.) These steps are what land on my lists. I also rely on iCal to schedule future stuff.
Do you keep a diary/journal or sketchbook/notebook? What’s inside it? :-) – iHanna
I always have a notebook with me, but it’s very all-purpose. Inside you’d find a complete mishmash of sketches for craft projects, notes and shopping lists, and cryptic reminders to do things I can never seem to decipher later.
Do you feel like, where your are now in your crafty career is where you were headed when you first started out? – AmyD
Yes and no. It took me forty years to finally take the plunge into a craft-based living. When I did, I had no other goal than to be able to avoid having a 9-to-5 workplace job. And to some extent, this is still my guiding principle. But I’m now beginning to focus my efforts on crafty publishing.
If I look back, I can see that I’ve always had an interest in publishing (high school newspaper, zine-making, etc.). I just never saw it as something accessible to me. But, thanks to the internet, anybody can be a publisher. How freaking cool is that?
Any trends you see on the crafty horizon? Now that we’ve had our fill of aprons, owls, and scrabble tile necklaces (but NOT kanzashi – we’re just getting started on that puppy!) what’s our next pitstop on the highway of crafty goodness? – SweeTart77
The recent resurgence of crafting seems to go through fads – just like everything. It seemed to gradually grow from yarn to sewing to anything that could be considered a green craft. My question has to do with what’s next. What do you think the next big craft “fad” will be? – Laure
I hope I won’t sound curmudgeonly here, but I’m no fan of fads. I think they tend to squelch originality. So in a way, I kind of hope there isn’t a next big craft fad. Instead, I’d love to see everyone wildly experimenting in different directions. Imagine all the coolness that would come out of that!
What is your all-time favorite crafting tool/material, and why? – Beth
This is a little prosaic, but I probably use low-tack painters’ masking tape more than anything. It has uses for all kinds of crafts. It holds materials together while glue dries, and peels off without damaging surfaces. It’s also great for sewing on fabric or paper – you can use it to hold pieces together, and then sew through it and peel it away easily. I could go on and on.
What one area of crafting would you next like to explore? – Knottyneedle
I’m really, really, really compelled by needle felting right now. I haven’t taken the plunge yet, because I’m fairly certain it’ll take over my life.
What are some craft projects that didn’t turn out the way you had planned? – Bethany
The answer would have to be my Dryer Lint Clay Experiment, which went horribly wrong. Instead of clay, I got a smelly grey-green slime. K has forbidden me to ever make it again. And I don’t blame him.
What craft or topic do readers/listeners ask you about most? What craft or process has been the one that best connects you with others? – Jen
I get questions about so many different crafts, there honestly isn’t any one that dominates. Sorry – that’s a vague answer, but true.
I think that the best crafts for connection are the ones with simple, repetitive motion, that allow your brain a little space for conversation. Knitting, crochet, weaving, needlepoint… I’ve had lovely experiences doing them all in company.
Have you ever had/or have any non-crafty pursuits/hobbies in real life? (I know, where would you find the time with all of that plastic canvas in the world…). – Sarah
Heh heh! It’s funny you should ask, because I’ve been consciously trying to cultivate non-crafty hobbies this year, to help balance all the crafty. So far, I dabble in cooking and running. (Although, the latter has been more of a challenge, as I over-trained early on and injured my hip. But I remain hopeful.)
What was the first craft you ever did? (and if it still exists let’s see it!) – Cathy
My Mom had me crafting from very early on. The earliest thing I remember making was a “milk truck paper box,” around the time I started kindergarten. I took a big cardboard box and taped cut-outs of milk bottles and wheels on it. (What angel of inspiration drove me in that direction, I don’t know.) Sadly, no pictures exist.
Out of all of the over the top plastic canvas projects you have run across what is your all time favorite? (and please feel free to go into great detail) – Cathy
Ack! There are so many… But in all seriousness, you should look at the work of Nicole Gastonguay, who makes freaking excellent things with PC.
If you were trapped on a desert island with just one small tub of craft supplies, what would you hope would be in that tub, and why? – Lisa
Seriously, some plastic canvas, yarn, and needles, because on a desert island, I would at last have the time to explore this medium to my heart’s content! (And, I could easily stitch myself up a shelter.)
What’s the strangest thing you have ever made or thought of making? – Anna
What is the oddest/weirdest thing you’ve crafted with? – Wendy
Plastic canvas isn’t weird enough for you? :-)
Favorite spots to get crafty inspiration around town and favorite spots to shop for all things crafty? Do you ever find yourself crafting in public, like say a coffee shop or the such? Not for classes, but for “just because”. – Christine
Well, of course I love The Knittn’ Kitten! I’m also a big fan of Twisted for yarn, Cool Cottons for fabric, and a new favorite: the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store. (Also, have you seen this Crafty PDX Google Map)?
Unfortunately, I don’t craft in public as much these days – too busy at my computer.
My friend and I would like to know if you ever plan on starting up the Church of Craft again in the Portland area. We both heard the podcast a little too late and of course were excited about the idea. – Emily
It was a great thing back in the day, but – sorry, I have no plans to revive it at the moment. Portland, though it is a crafty mecca, is also a little over-saturated with crafty events right now. Every weekend, there are multiple things to attend, so it’s really hard to get people to come to an event that happens every month. The last ten months I put on Church of Craft meetings, few people came to them. But there are lots of other craft nights in town you can check out. You can learn about them through DIYAlert.com.
How did you decide to teach classes at places like your local library? And how did you get them to agree to it?
Bonus Question: What is your favorite holiday song? – Kari
Actually, one of the Library staff approached me, as a result of my organizing Church of Craft. We’re very fortunate in Multnomah County – the Library system is well-funded compared to many counties, and it’s dedicated to putting on a wide variety of programming. Apparently, lots of people were requesting craft classes at the libraries, so I was one of the people who got involved in teaching.
Bonus Answer: Currently, it’s Peggy Lee’s rendition of Happy Holidays.
I wanted to know what some of the best resources were that you’ve discovered for up-and-coming crafters. Business basics, getting started selling kinds of resources. – Heather
Craft Boom is a great resource online marketing ideas, and you can always find support on The Switchboards. Also, keep an eye out for Kari Chapin’s forthcoming book, The Handmade Marketplace. If you’re looking for more specific information, feel free to email me and I’m sure I can recommend others.
I have a lot of friends who urge me to sell my crafts, but I worry that it’ll take the fun out of creating. What can I say to them to so they’ll shut up about it? Or should I just give in and sell some stuff? – Thien-Kim
Well, in this day and age, it’s great that you can set up an online store and stock it with only a few items, if that’s all you want to sell. But the marketplace is very crowded, so it’s wise to expect to put in a lot of time marketing your work.
It’s interesting how our culture seems to feel that “You could sell those” is the highest form of praise. I’d say that, if you decide to sell what you make, you’ll need to be 100% committed to the idea of selling. Which is a whole different energy than the making. (Or, you could try telling your friends that, if you start selling, you won’t have time to make fabulous gifts for them!)
Etsy has opened up a whole new world for me… I started selling a few weeks ago… my question is: Why haven’t you ever tried to sell all of your “crafty goodness” on there? – Kimberly
Congratulations on your new shop! I don’t really make crafts to sell – I’m just not good at making things more than once! I have sold zines on Etsy in the past, but these days, all my selling of stuff (i.e, ebooks and tutorials) is on my own online store.
Now that you’re a rich and famous author, do you think the money will change you? Will you forget the little people? Subquestion: Have you had many encounters with the paparazzi yet? If you need any help in that area, I’ve had a lot of experience with the tabloids and can offer advice. I don’t know if I’ll ever live down those bathing suit pictures. – Paul
I still have that issue of the Weekly World News. Someday, I’ll have you autograph it.