With projects that range from yarn to wood, from found objects to fabric, with contributors from all over the craft spectrum, Tsia Carson has put together a creative lightening bolt — a force of craft. I’m not at all surprised, really. I’ve been a fan of her dynamically charged SuperNaturale.com site for quite some time (and have been fortunate enough to contribute to its Glimmer blog, along with many others, for the last year or so). But the book, Craftivity, takes the whole crafty mission up a notch — it’s inventive, wondrously colorful and full of creative surprises, and I am not alone in singing its praises. I’m really happy and honored to present an interview with Tsia about her new book here at 52projects.com.
Craftivity — what a wonderful name for the book. What does that word mean to you?
I wanted to get across the idea that crafting is active, that it is an activity and that the practitioners are activist. They take agency over their lives by making beautiful stuff. Most of the happiest crafters I know craft in groups or have a community of people they engage with about their work. I think that this is at the heart of what makes it relevant interesting culture and not just more stuff to consume and own. But I have to give props to Holly Gressley and Aviva Michaelov for introducing me to this term.
How have you met all these crafters? How much did your website have to do with pulling together all the artists for your book?
Most of the makers I have met but not all of them. There are a few I can’t wait to meet! The website was instrumental in meeting and discovering contributors. It’s the best calling card in the world.
Tell the truth — what was the hardest project in the book to make happen?
Twist my arm! I think that knit hammock, while not the hardest project to do in terms of skill level, was the hardest to make happen. It took a really long time and knitting with the hemp twine was really hard because it has a mind of its own. Poor Annika (Annika Ginsberg made it)! She is a master knitter and it was driving her nuts. Every step of the way something went awry with that project. Even building the harness at the end was nuts. But I think I would know how to do that much better now.
If you had to pick a theme song for your book what would it be?
"One Nation Under a Groove" Funkadelic?
"Who’s Got the Crack?" the Moldy Peaches?
"One Divine Hammer" the Breeders?
Gosh, I don’t know.
How does your background in design flow into your personal crafting?
I don’t really separate these creative activities up. I am heavy on the concept, I think through things and have to be excited by the idea before I make anything. If anything, becoming a designer has made me more sensitive to detail and more particular.
How do you think the web has impacted the world of crafting?
The way it has opened up communities to like-minded individuals rather than geographic location has been phenomenal. It has really facilitated discourse and making in a way that would have been impossible. I think that it has fueled the scene so that people are not working in isolation.
Do you recall your very first craft project? What was it? Why did you make it?
I was such a craftive kid. My parents totally encouraged it. I think what comes to mind is that I made a whole zoo of cut-out paper animals and then photographed them against a dark window so you could see the backs as well in the photograph. I wanted you to be able to see the back and front at the same time. It was all about the image. I was a total OCD kid. My father is an artist and when I just learned how to write I signed my name on all his work. That was a good idea too. Also there was my "multimedia" JFK presentation in 2nd grade…
In terms of crafting, knowing you’re a partner in a design firm and have a baby — when do you get it done? How do you find the time?
I still haven’t put together almost any of my personal projects.
There’s a baby quilt, a lampshade and house painting. Honestly, I have started to outsource and have people help me. It’s funny — I do find time to do those activities I enjoy. For instance I hate to sew, so that is going to be outsourced to a friend. But I like to knit, so I made my daughter a red scarf just like her favorite book character — Jenny Linksy the cat.
How is your crafting different as a mother from how it was when you did not have a child?
What project will take an evening max is the major deciding factor.
What’s the one craft project you’ve always thought about creating but have yet to get started on?
I thought I would be really DIY’d out after this book but it has actually fueled my desire to make stuff. I am going to study permaculture over the winter and my husband and I are going to make our property into an edible forest garden. I would also like to implement a grey water system for the house to feed the water from the washing machine through a drip irrigation system for the garden. Even saying this stuff makes it clear why I haven’t had the time to do it yet.
Read an interview with Tsia at Craftzine.com.
This contest was established by the folks who run the Plum of the Month Club, a very cool project that puts a "juicy handmade item in your mailbox each month." Subscription information is here. I like how the project supports handmade DIY craft-makers, and involves getting a little surprise in the mail. I also really like the graphic in the top right corner of the site: "Here you go!"… "Aww, thanks, dude!"
Through this very cool site, WholeLife Mastery: Daily Arting/Crafting Challenges Online, I found this site: Wednesday Stamper, which features a new challenge for the stamp artist every Wednesday. The hope is that you’ll break out your rubber stamps and make some art, and then share what you’ve created. This online project is run by Belinda Schneider and Christine Baier.
Very cool new "online art zine of sorts" — What You Make It. Beautiful, clever presentation, excellent interviews, wonderful featured art. The project is produced by Melissa Stajda. Be sure to also check out the zine’s livejournal site for more frequent updates. (Found via Sister Diane, SuperNaturale.com blogger and CraftyPod producer.)
The Pincushion Challenge — a new theme is announced each month, and you are invited to make a pincushion based on that theme, and then send in a picture of your finished project. For August and September, the theme is “Recycle.” Last month’s theme was “Flowers,” and you can see the entries here. This site is run by Julie Anderson, who also produces the Stitch-Cast podcast.
Leah Kramer of Craftster.org has a new book out: The Craftster Guide to Nifty, Thrifty and Kitschy Crafts.
And speaking of SuperNaturale.com — the site has offered a sneak peek at its forthcoming book — Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle — coming this October.