Creating handmade objects can be so much more than a mere physical act, it can be emotional, spiritual, intellectual and so on. What is it for you?
It is most definitely emotional for me. I almost always begin a handmade project based on an idea or inspiration that hits an emotional nerve for me. I have a drive to make it and can't get it out of my head until I do. At quiet moments during the day I will "work" on that project in my head, trying to smooth out each step so that when I actually get time to make it, I can already see the end result in my head, it helps keep me motivated. Working on handmade projects really quiets my mind, clears my thoughts. I think many people can relate to the feeling of doing too many things at once throughout the day, sewing and making things take up all my brainspace when I'm doing them, and it really refreshes me mentally.
There is so much sharing within crafting circles, especially now with the internet and blogging. What role has community played in your personal creation process?
I have made lifelong friends with many crafting bloggers. I think I, as many, had the initial reaction of "wow! someone out there has obsessive thoughts about crafts like I do! Whew!" upon discovering the world of crafting blogs back when I did (in 2004, I think). The internet has made the world a delightfully smaller place for me, and the friends I've made from blogging continue to be an amazing resource of advice and support for me. I think there is a desire for many of us who blog or who read blogs to connect in real life, and now more than ever I can see how the old fashioned quilting bee must have been a major support for women within small communities. I'd like to think internet has allowed each of us to recreate that community, but in a different way. We all support each other in a very real way over the internet... we inspire, give advice, tips, help each other, its very supportive.
You do a lot of crafting with your kids. What do you think makes your creative time with them successful?
First and foremost, either we have clear expectations, or we know we have no expectations at all (which, I guess, is also an expectation). Because my kids are 8 and 10 now, crafting with them has elevated to a whole new level, I do much less of the work. I can help them gather supplies, and they take it from there. But early on, the best crafting sessions were when I made it relatively easy and straightforward for them...having supplies ready before they got to the table, one kid really wanted to see some sort of finished product before starting (picture, rough sketch). It was always a challenge for me not to jump in and help them out (okay, that's still a challenge), but its really better to just "sit on my hands" and let them see where it takes them. So I guess realistic expectations of what they'll do, how long they will even want to do it (5 minutes?), and how messy it will be, all makes for a really fun time. A lesson in letting go : D
To me you seem like a progressive pioneer; do you think so too? In what way?
I think progressive pioneer is a fantastic term to describe the trend of what people like me love to do, crafting for home and family. I try to show my kids a way beyond a disposable world. I know that for my family, we are more likely to not look at something handmade around our house as disposable, and will hang onto it longer. Consequently, I put a lot of thought into what I make, and what we bring into our home. I think in really subtle ways, my family's life is enriched by what I make for us and our home. We can look around us and tell a story about many of the things we see around our home...quilts, artwork, dolls, etc. When the outside world around us is so crazy, I try to soften it as I can for my kids and our life. I can only control so much of how the outside world chooses to stress us, or makes us worry, but home can be a calm, loving place.
Your colors, patterns and designs are amazing! Tell us about some of your favorites sources for inspiration.
The internet is such a wealth of wonderful ideas and beautiful inspiration, sometimes too much. Often I see a need in our daily lives that inspires me with a new idea, like the daily placemats. I have a secret fetish for floral fabrics, but they really don't fit in our house, so I try to find inconspicuous and clever ways to sneak them in, and I think that is why I love patchwork so much. For a burst of inspiration, I love Amy Butler's website (beautiful inspiration photos), Denyse Schmidt (my all-time favorite quilting inspiration), I love True Up because its all about my favorite thing- fabric, and so so many fabric blogs, too many to list! Bloggers are so full of good info, and so generous with tutorials and how-tos, its wonderful!
Blair, thanks for sharing your thoughts, home and projects with us. Keep in touch!
PS Here's a link to more information about that rad, felted checkers set. I know you want to make one!