Browsing the archives for the Interviews category.

Faythe Levine of Handmade Nation

Crafty, Interviews

Handmade Nation

Let’s start with your shop, Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery. What
was behind your plan to open a shop devoted to independent crafts?

Paper Boat opened in June of 2005 as a result of myself and my business partner Kim Kisiolek realizing there was no brick and mortar space in Milwaukee that specialized specifically in indie designers. I had made a lot of connections online through my business at the time Flying Fish Design as well as through coordinating Art vs. Craft (Milwaukee’s indie craft fair), so it was a fluid step to get things going on a retail level.

Tell me about your shop! What sort of items do you carry, is there
an online counterpart?

Paper Boat works directly with makers who produce their work in house or have it manufactured on a small scale. We carry stationary, jewelry, household items, clothing, books, plush and art objects. We also have a small gallery space that has hosted shows by Jill Bliss, Jenny Hart, Katy Horan and Monica Canilao to name a few. We are looking forward to the solo show with Lisa Congdon (of Rare Device) this December! We don’t have an on-line shop because the whole point is for the Milwaukee public to be able to come in and interact with the work, most of the makers have their work available online and we direct people to their sites if necessary.

The bi-annual craft festival you put together, Art vs Craft, seems
like more than your average craft show. What do you feel makes it

We receive over 3 times as many applications as spaces for Art vs. Craft and this allows us to hand pick the vendors that we feel are bringing the most innovative, quality, unique work to the event. Every year we have returning vendors new people apply as well.


Do you have help putting the show together? Plug your friends!

Art vs. Craft is coordinated by myself and Kim Kisiolek. There are a handful of amazing volunteers that help the day before and day of to make the event run smoothly.

What sparked the concept of Handmade Nation, the documentary?

As a maker I found myself immersed in the emerging indie craft community. In 2003 I participated in the first Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago and was blow away at the amount of people who where vending as well as there to support the makers. At that time I knew there was something big going on, it took 3 years to realize that this “scene” was a huge movement that needed to be documented. So, with my DIY spirt I took it upon myself to begin documenting what was going on around me.

You travelled 19,000 miles to talk with indie crafters all over
America, how long did that take and how did you go about it?

We began shooting in June of 2006. Initially it was myself and the Director of Photography Micaela O’Herlihy who traveled around. At the time Micaela was a full time working artist and also a single mother so we scheduled our shoot dates over weekends around craft fairs happening indifferent cities so we could get the most footage out of a trip possible. There were a few instances where Micaela couldn’t make the trip and I had my friend Drew Rosas step in and shoot. The actual logistics of producing the documentary were pretty easy since I had all the connections already made for the most part. People were happy to meet with me and be a part of the project. We ended up interviewing over 80 individuals over the course of 2 years.


Being an indie crafter yourself, what new things did you learn
during your journey?

I learned that I was not the only one struggling with balancing my artistic life with trying to make a living. I learned that I wasn’t the only one who was battling not being able to keep up with production of my goods once there was a demand, and I learned that there was much more amazing work being produced that I could ever document.

At what point in planning the documentary did you decide to make a book from the idea as well?

In 2007 after we released the 8 minute clip on youtube I received way more attention toward the film then I ever expected. I received hoards of emails about people who wanted to be a part of the project, wanted to support the project as well as three emails from publishers who were interested in the possibility of a book, one of which was Princeton Architectural Press. I was familiar with their books and a big fan of their aesthetic. At that point I realized I needed help and asked friend and artist Cortney Heimerl to join on as co-author and pitch a proposal. Princeton gave us the go-ahead and the rest is history (fun fact: our book has been out less than a month and is already in it’s third printing!).


What is the difference between the book and the movie?

The book starts off with a time line of the indie craft community fantastically illustrated by Kate Bingaman-Burt. The is broken up into regions for the chapters which are divided by essays by community members. There are 24 makers featured in the book with a page of text for each and then 3-6 pages of images of their work, studio space, process, etc. The book gave us the ability to feature in depth more people than we can in the film. The film features 13 “featurettes” on specific people with a ton of smaller interviews and cameo’s from community members.

I have to ask about the Handmade Nation stitch pattern being
released by Sublime Stitching. How did that hook up come about and can you tell me about the designer?

I am so excited about the Sublime Stitching pattern we did. We are so lucky to have Jenny Hart and her company Sublime Stitching as a part of the indie craft community and she has been overly supportive of the documentary and book. We talked awhile back about doing a pattern with her company and it just madesense for our book illustrator/telegraphist Kate Bingaman-Burt to design it. Kate is an amazing designer now based out of Portland, OR who has a fascinating website called where she illustrates and documents her daily purchases. I suggest checking it out. Kate and I have continued to work together on many projects after the book was complete and I look forward to working with her more in the future. The Handmade Nation / Sublime Stitching patterns went live this month and will be up until they sell out, they are a limited edition and a percentage of the sales go towards the expenses of the film.

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Christine of Flapper Girl

Crafty, Domestic, Interviews

Flapper Girl

Hostess aprons! Cupcake iron on patches! Ruffle bum knickers! Coffee cup cozies! Ruffle bum knickers did it for you, didn’t it? Flapper Girl is equal parts sassy, retro and cute! Run by Christine, all items are handmade and are 100% adorable. I had no idea how much I needed a hostess apron, but now that I’m in love with them all (especially this pink and brown number), I have no idea how I’ve entertained every weekend for this long without one! The coffee cozies are so sweet and a pretty way to add more green efforts to everyday life, the bags, hairclips and baking gear are all so rad too!

When did you open Flapper Girl? What was it about that time that made it right to launch?

I opened my Etsy shop in May of 2007. I was really excited about starting this journey of making and selling things I created. I had a few tote bags and aprons and was applying for my first two craft fairs. Since I had a full-time day job at the time, there was no pressure, really. I was just doing what I loved in my spare time. It seemed like the next step.

Where did your love of the 20s flapper girl come from?

There’s just something about 1920s Art Deco design that speaks to me. I think I first fell in love with that. Whether it’s architecture, a beaded dress, a picture frame, or a set of kitchen canisters, if it’s Art Deco, it makes me hold my breath and admire. Then there are my favorite famous flappers of that time: Louise Brooks, Marlene Dietrich, and Theda Bara. I admire all these women for being sexy, powerful, and successful radicals in their field. Moreover, I’ve always admired that the flappers were liberal and rebellious in a time where that sort of behavior and mindset in women was unheard of. They didn’t care that so many people thought they were acting inappropriate and rebellious. They did what they wanted to do, and that was that. I can relate to that. I love finding vintage photographs from the 20s, especially those of flappers. They seem so mischievous. And happy. I connect to that, too.

The fun and girlie but rebellious vibe shines through in all your creations, from your jewelry to your coffee cozies, is it fair to say that reflects your personality?

Yeah, I have a rebellious streak in me. I think it all started when I learned to play the drums at 13. It felt awesome to be doing something I enjoyed, and I felt pretty bad-ass that it was something that wasn’t typical for a teenage girl. There weren’t many female drummers back then. It’s good to see more and more of us take the stage. I played in various punk rock bands throughout high school. Then in 2003, I joined an all-girl rock-n-roll band, The Jolenes. We had a lot of fun playing up and down the west coast.

The office-dwelling corporate life is definitely not for me. I consider that to be rebellious. I was a secretary for many years, and found it to be incredibly oppressive and depressing. I’m one of those people who flourishes making my own schedule, and doing what I love.

Are you domestic? I have to ask because I am so very, and I adore
all of your hostess aprons!

Thank you! I have a love affair with vintage aprons. I’ve been collecting them since I went to my first estate sale with my mom when I was 16. The fancy hostess aprons have always been my favorite kind. I started making my own vintage-inspired tulle hostess aprons because I never wanted to wear my vintage ones, in fear that their old, fragile fibers would come apart. My hostess aprons are built sturdily to stand up beautifully to many, many years of use.

I do have a domestic bone or two in my body. I love to bake, though I don’t bake as much as I used to. Over the past few years, my little family has discovered that we are all intolerant to gluten and dairy, so that has cut into my baking, I’m afraid. I know there are a lot of great gluten-free/dairy-free cookbooks out there, but I have yet to get my feet wet in that arena. This year I got my domesticity on for my daughter’s 8th birthday. She had her first sleepover, and I made each of her guests a simple felt purse that they got to decorate using an assortment of embellishments, including some felt shapes I cut out by hand. I had fun setting up the craft table all Martha Stewart style, with each girl getting her own little tray of supplies, and fancy paper cup of craft glue.

Your coffee cozies are a hit as well, both for their cutenessfactor and for their eco factor. What inspired you to add these to your shop?

The first coffee cozy I ever made was for my husband, actually. It was a Valentine’s Day gift. He still uses it to this day. It has the word HUSTLIN’ embroidered on it. He loved it, and from the response he was getting at the coffee shops whenever he used it, I figured other people would like the cozies too. I realized that choosing words to embroider on coffee cups would be sort of difficult, so I went with cute designs instead. My first pattern was vintage eyewear. Bikes and squirrels soon followed.

I’m really proud of these cozies. I feel good about making something that is keeping unwanted waste out of the landfills. The cozies themselves keep people from using those drab cardboard java jackets that get tossed with the cups. Plus the cozies are made from either eco-fi felt (which is made from recycled plastic bottles), or repurposed felt from second hand stores (mostly the Knittn Kitten) and estate/yard sales. They are truly an eco-friendly item!

Tell me about your home studio. Where do you craft and how do you
keep it organized (or do you not)?

It’s pretty cozy, and hard to keep organized, but I do my best. We live in a wonderful old building that’s on the historic register. As such, we have old plaster walls that aren’t made for hanging stuff on. This means that we can’t install any wall shelving, so I have to get creative in keeping my craft space organized. My vintage pink Morse sewing machine is set up on an antique vanity-turned-desk. It has huge, deep drawers, which I’m thankful for. I also have a few bins and various storage cubes for fabric, and a tall, standing shelving unit with some plastic bins to keep various supplies and projects in. If I’m working on a project that doesn’t require my sewing machine, I find myself working at the kitchen table, or on the couch. I can’t watch TV and create at the same time, so whether I’m sewing, making jewelry, or embroidering, I’m most likely listening to an audiobook on my iPod. I’d like to hug the person who invented audiobooks.

Flapper Girl

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Nomi of Manic Muffin Totes

Crafty, Interviews

Manic Muffin Totes is a sweet Etsy shop stocked with super cute owls, pillows and other fun quilted items. Run by Nomi, everything is handmade – all quilted items are hand quilted! All of the treasures in this shop are so cute and the attention to detail is mind blowing.

Manic Muffin Totes – Pink and Sassy lil Hoot!!

1. Your ‘Lil Hoots’ owls and pip Squeaks are so cute it hurts, how was the idea for these wee creatures born?

My lil hoots started out as purse I designed. I found out very fast, that I hate sewing in zippers. After fighting with this one impossible zipper, I just stuffed it, sewed the owl closed, and lil Hoots were born. They are cuter as pillow/plushies anyway.

My pip Squeaks are one of my newer designs. I collect mice, so I thought I would make a mouse pincushion, after a few attempts, I actually made something really cute, and I didn’t want to stick it full of pins so I gave it to my niece, who loves it. So I thought these little guys might do well on Etsy, and I gave they a try. They make really great baby shower gifts.

2. Your quilted items are hand quilted! Holy cow. Where did you learn that?

I am a self-taught quilter. A very good friend of mine gave me her grandmothers quilt books when she passed away, and I fell in love with quilting. I absolutely love to lap quilt, I average 12 stitches per inch, but I can actually get 15 stitches per inch! But that is serious over kill, and really not practical. I just like to brag that I can do it. J Quilting keeps me sane and grounded. I think it is the repetitive motion, that is much like meditating.

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Alanna Kellogg of A Veggie Venture

Domestic, Healthy, Interviews

Alanna Kellogg has managed to cook up vegetables in a new way – every day for a year! That was almost four years ago and she’s still going with ideas on her blog, A Veggie Venture and her food column, Kitchen Parade. Her Leek and Root Vegetable Gratin is an amazing meal for nights when it gets dark early and you want something a little different, and her parsnip fries? Not at all what you’d expect! Alanna’s blog is full of neat, different recipes like these, and updated versions of recipes you may be using on a regular basis (like mashed turnip and apple instead of plain mashed potatoes).

Asparagus Scallion Salad

1. For an entire year, you cooked a vegetable in a new way every single day – amazing! What spurred you to undertake such a task?

There was no grand plan, I’m afraid! I’d run across my first blog — either Chocolate & Zucchini or the Julia & Julie Project, not sure which — and was suddenly driven to start my own. My “project” was to cook a vegetable in a new way, every day, for a month. It seemed so ambitious, really! But after a month, I was still learning and so decided to keep going — and did so for a whole year. Trust me, this is a crazy idea, not one I recommend! It’s really hard to sustain for an entire year, no breaks.

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Kristen from Schmancy/Plush You!

Crafty, Interviews

Breakfast Pack

 Schmancy Toys   Plush You

Schmancy Toys is part of the Fancy-Schmancy-Pants ‘trilogy of awesome’, and is home to some amazingly neat gear. My personal faves are Moofia, a series of mini dairy product figures, and the Chumps mini series, which are tough little dudes so destined for a life of crime they come with a ball and chain! So rad!

1. Jars, felt cookies, pouches! Did you start out with one and add to the shop or did you launch with all these treasures?

I actually didn’t sell anything I made in my store for the first year or so. I just recently started adding more. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time these days again for crafting. It’s sad but what can you do? I look forward to January 🙂

2. What are your favourite materials to work with? Why?

I have been on a sewing kick for some time now. I still love my applique scissors! I am not sure if that is the right term. I just discovered the magic of fusible stabilizer so I can’t wait to use that more and I love easy tear stabilizer for embroidery. It’s changed a lot for me!

(l-r): Bytedust Cloud, Tinpo Fashion Victims

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