Don't you just love Alicia? Her blog is one of my very favorite reads and I'm so excited to have her here for an interview this morning. She shares some beautiful thoughts about the importance of place, the soothing power of creativity, and being fluent in "craft." So, dig in and get to know her a little better!
To me, your creations
seem to have a solid sense of place, they look like something that would come
out of the Northwest. There's a back story to your pieces that speaks of
blackberry cobblers, lazy Sunday mornings, and wild growing things. What
role does place play for you when you create?
Even as a little child, I was very sensitive to where I lived – my
neighborhood, my house, my city (
Creating can be an emotional process; the actual act of creation can be a roller coaster from wallowing in the pit of frustration to euphoric highs from creating something beautiful. We also turn to our craft as an emotional release, a therapy, a distraction, an uplift etc. How does emotion play itself out in your creative process?
Well, I am a pretty emotional person in general. I don’t get frustrated by my crafts or my work itself very often (though I do get frustrated with my EVIL COMPUTERS whose sole purpose is to drive me insane [I know this] frequently). But I think my work is emotional in that I just love it. I love it for giving my life a direction that I really needed. I love it for helping me recover from a difficult time – quite literally, handwork is a great balm for chronic pain (I have a permanently messed up foot). I love my house, and I frequently make things for it, so I think that love goes into those tablecloths and curtains and embroideries and potholders. I love my family, so when I make things for them I am definitely trying to express that in my work for them. Generally, I think I sort of express and explain my feelings these days in crafts. It seems to be a language that comes very naturally to me, and I feel very lucky for that. It’s good to feel fluent in something.
Your book features projects designed to become family keepsakes. Tell us about a family heirloom that is significant to you, or perhaps something you've made and woven memories into yourself.
I’m sitting on a quilt right now that I made for Andy sixteen or seventeen years ago now. It’s a simple square patch quilt, one of my first. I had no idea what I was doing, so it’s totally falling apart, and there are lots of different kinds of fabric that have worn very differently in it – all of the weird polyester shiny patches are completely shredded, and you can see that there isn’t batting inside, but an old pilly garage-sale comforter inside. I hardly remember the specifics of making it now, but I do remember thinking as I was making it, “Oh yeah, how cool is this, he’s going to think I am an awesome girlfriend now!” It was just kind of a cool moment – we were “together” enough for me to know that the quilt would probably be in my life in the future, too, but not together enough for me to assume I didn’t have to try to impress him with my mad domestic skillz. It worked pretty well – he loved it, we’re still together – and he still pulls it out and sits under it when he is having a good, quiet, relaxing (i.e.: football-watching) day. He says it’s his favorite thing. When I look at it now, though, I see that I really didn’t know him very well – I would choose such different fabrics for him these days! Maybe I should make a new one.
To me you seem like a progressive pioneer; do you think so too? In what way?
Well, I am a very firm believer that the secret of happiness is just finding your niche and digging in – and not worrying what anyone thinks of that, what anyone else is doing, or even whether you should be doing something else. You follow your instincts – and your bliss – and just get down to it. I see this concept in your definition, I think, so while I don’t have kids, I do believe in taking responsibility for myself in this way. I think having and making time for hobbies is a very important part of healthy living. And I have always been really independent in my interests, and pretty fearless about them. I believe that you can learn almost anything with the help of a book, some elbow grease, and your own sense of confidence and intuition. I just do it. I don’t have to be great at it. I just have to allow myself the opportunity to do it. That freedom is precious. You have to choose it, and protect it.
In an alternate universe where you had taken a different path that didn't lead to crafting, sewing, writing, blogging, etc., what path would you be on?
If I’d gone in a different direction in college, I probably would’ve been an English or Art History teacher, teaching 19th century English novels or Pre-Raphaelite painters. If I’d gone in a different direction in grade school, I definitely would’ve become a horse trainer or, like, a hunter/jumper stable manager. I still kind of wish I had done that. I think I would’ve been pretty happy hanging around with horses every day. Horses and corgis.
Alicia, thank you so much for opening up and sharing your thoughts with us today. Keep in touch!