When did you first start crafting and how did you learn?
I think I’ve been crafting in some way since before I can really remember. My mom is an incredibly talented and created individual who does a ton of sewing and other crafting, and when we were kids she’d do all kinds of projects with us, make us toys from cardboard boxes, that sort of thing. When I was three we lived in Germany for a year and my mom made me a cardboard kitchen with dishes and everything, since we couldn’t bring something like that over with us, or take it home when we left. And whenever she was making something, I’d be doing some version of crafting right along with her. When it came to her sewing, she had me trained to spot dropped pins and pick them up (rather than eat them) by the time I was about a year old. So I’ve at least been a crafting assistant pretty much all my life.
I also drew a lot as a kid, from the time I could hold a crayon all the way through high school. What’s most amusing about my crafting now is that the majority of it revolves around sewing, which is something I loathed when I was young and swore I would never ever do any more of than I absolutely had to. Turns out I just needed to do it on my own terms. For example, I almost never use a pattern that I didn’t make up myself.
Can you remember the first thing you made?
Not really, but I expect it was some kind of drawing. I do remember that in grade 6, my friend and I made sock bunnies - little bunny dolls made out of an old sock. It’s definitely not the first thing I made, but it’s one that looms large in my memory. We named them Bunita and Bunlaura and they had all kinds of adventures together. We made them both houses with furniture and accessories, and sewed them tons of outfits. They made friends with our other stuffed animals, had tea parties, went exploring… they had far more vivid social lives than we did!
Where do you look for inspiration?
All over - I’ve found that it’s more a matter of habitual thinking than hunting down a specific idea. That is to say, once you start creating things, you get into a making mindset - you notice objects all over the place that you think you could make, or that give you an idea for a craft project. People say things that make your brain light up with a craft idea. It gets to a point where you often can’t turn off the inspiration even if you want to. And of course you’re guaranteed to get your biggest and best inspiration anytime you absolutely without a doubt do not have time to go follow through on it. That’s life.
When I’m really feeling devoid of inspiration though, I’ll do a google image search on some kind of craft topic, or just browse Craftgawker or Pinterest for a bit. A couple years ago I started writing down ideas I didn’t have time for, so I could go find them again when I needed inspiration later on. I also have a massive folder of images and links on my desktop - things I’d like to try, or riff off of.
What's your craft space like and how do you organize your supplies?
It’s a mess. My problem is shelving - it is so hard to find good shelving (tall shelving!) that’s actually affordable. Related: my city doesn’t have an Ikea.
I do try to keep things organized though - I have a big long worktable supported at either end by a set of drawers, and each drawer has a designated purpose (pens and markers, paper scraps, stationary and envelopes, stamps, scissors and knives, etc. I have a separate sewing table and an absolutely overloaded shelf of fabric, then another shelf for assorted other supplies. I now have a dozen of those nice white Whimseybox boxes with the labels on the side, into which I’ve organized some of my smaller collections of craft supplies (e.g.: candle making stuff, stickers, googly eyes, gift tags, etc.). Whimseybox absolutely does some great stuff, but to be perfectly honest I found those lovely boxes, rather than the actual supplies inside them, to be the best part of signing up to receive a year their monthly mailings.
What music/podcasts/TV shows do you love to craft along to?
Music choices change with my mood, but I listen to podcasts more often while I’m crafting. Some of my favourites are CBC’s The Age of Persuasion and Under the Influence, NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Hidden Kitchens, CBC’s The Vinyl Cafe, and independent podcasts Welcome to Nightvale, The History of Rome, Sawbones and PodCastle. And I’m always looking for new ones to enjoy! I have a couple friends who do Google hangouts with their crafting buddies around the world while they’re working, visiting and sharing ideas while they each work on their own projects. I think that’s a really neat idea, but since I tend to work a lot more slowly when I’m visiting simultaneously, I haven’t ever really tried it myself.
Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?
I do all kinds of other crafts. My blog, Tally’s Treasury, features tutorials every other week for everything from papercraft to stamping, sewing, needle and wet felting, jewelry making and more. I like to try new things and dabble in everything I can. I suppose though that my specialty is sewing, particularly making plushies. I also make a lot of my own clothes, and I have a huge stack of incredible upholstery samples that I love using for small plushies, baby toys, hats, bags, etc.
Apart from that, well I hardly have time for any other hobbies after all the time my crafting takes up! I do like to run and do some casual weight lifting though, and I read and play video games when I can make the time. I've spent far too many hours in Animal Crossing, that's for sure.
I suppose this also counts as a hobby, in a way: every year I participate in Desert Bus for Hope, which is an annual event my friends and I put together to raise money for Child's Play. Child's Play is a fantastic Seattle-based organization that donates toys and games to children's hospitals worldwide. Every fall, we spend hundreds of hours getting everything set up and organized to do a week long, 24/7 gaming marathon that raises money for this great charity. It's an incredible thing to be part of.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
For me, the bottom line is that I am not happy in life unless I am creating. Not to say that I’m miserable every time I’m not holding a craft project, but rather that I need my life to be focused on making, on crafting things I feel have beauty and worth. Whether that be a sewing project or a social event - a plush doll or a birthday bash. Making things, putting something into the world that wasn’t there before, is what brings me joy. And I hope that by sharing my ideas and projects with other people, I can help to spread that joy around.