Betz does it all; mama-ing, crafting, book writing, and designing her own line of fabrics! She just released a beautiful selection of rich, autumn-inspired fabrics in her organic print line. I love that she chooses top quality materials and has her fabrics produced in a low-impact, sustainable manner. She's all about being green; have you seen her book ? I have a little project to show you tomorrow, inspired by one of Betz' ideas. Today she shares some thoughts about green crafting, creating with family, and where she finds inspiration. Welcome, Betz!
You've published two books about crafting. Do you find the creative process involved in writing a book to be significantly different from that involved in sewing and crafting? How did you evolve as a creator and become a writer?
I've always had a design mind and worked many years as an apparel designer in the fashion industry. So the creative process I used when designing projects for my books was just second nature for me. As far as the writing portion goes, I do enjoy expressing myself. However, I admit that the writing was definitely more of a challenge for me than the project creation. It's been a good stretching of the ol' comfort zone!
You use recycled and repurposed materials in so many of your projects. You seem to have a knack for seeing something new and lovely within something old and cast off. Does this affect how you see the rest of the world or things around you?
I think I discovered the thrill of the unexpected in my youth. I recall getting positive reinforcement from people when I chose to look at things in an offbeat way. My impulse was to intentionally do things differently than what people expected. (Of course, doing something differently purely for the sake of being different doesn't always have a positive result!) Now that I am a "seasoned" designer, I hope that I've refined that impulse. I continue to get a kick out of turning things on their heads and, in particular, finding new purpose for old items. That's why I enjoy thrifting and repurposing so much! I really thrive on the process of creative problem solving.
How does crafting happen in your family? Do you find yourselves involved often in collaborative projects? Or do you and your kids retreat into your own personal creative zones? Are you the ring leader or do your kids introduce you to new ideas? What sort of dynamic does crafting bring to your family?
Since crafting is a big part of my "work", I have my own studio space full of my materials, tools and work surfaces. I share my space with my kids and husband when they need to create and we do often collaborate. In addition, the kitchen table is used more for drawing and art projects than for eating. Right now, the 4 of us are working on the kids Halloween costumes. What an undertaking! My husband, who is trained as an industrial designer, is in charge of the costume "hard goods": Helmets, jet-packs, etc. I am in charge of the costume "soft goods" : shirts, pants, capes, wigs, etc. The kids play the roles of art directors and fit models. I love being able to show the kids that making stuff is way more gratifying than buying it.
To me you seem like a progressive pioneer; do you think so too? In what way?
I dedicated my book, Sewing Green, to my grandmother, Frances Sayre. Her mantra was Waste Not Want Not and it is a philosophy that rings as true today as it ever did. We have all grown accustomed to behaviors that contribute to a wasteful society. My current goal is to move away from all things disposable. I hope that by doing so others will join me! There are many projects in Sewing Green that can help, such as the reusable sandwich wrap and lunch tote, the water bottle sling, cloth napkins, etc. I really believe that we would all be better off by stopping, rewinding, and starting up again with simple, basic ways of living.
I love how you describe the feelings behind your family cottage fabric line. Where do you find design inspiration?
I usually start with something that is important or interesting to me personally, as was the case with Family Cottage and my new Indian Summer print line. A favorite memory, a place, a print fabric or a color combination from my childhood may serve as a springboard. I really like having a story to guide my designs, something to hang my hat on. From there, it's anything goes!