Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to interview Julie! She’s a fellow writer over at Crafting a Green World and a super awesome crafty mama. I’ve been a fan of her handmade goodies and her writing for a long time and am so happy that she was able to take some time to answer the 5 questions!
1. Tell me about how you got started crafting.
After I gave birth to my first daughter, I wanted to wear her in a ring sling, but I couldn’t find one that I could afford and that wasn’t ugly (They make cute ones now, but I still can’t afford them!). I did, however, have a second-hand sewing machine that I had never used, so I bought some great flannel on sale, a couple of steel rings from the hardware store, and I stitched the life out of that thing and constructed a ring sling as my very first sewing project. My second project was another ring sling in a print that my partner liked better. My third project was the most elaborate baby book ever created. And then I discovered Craftster, and the rest is history!
2. What draws you to eco-friendly materials?
I love the Earth as much as anybody, but quite frankly, it’s the cost benefit. I am, by choice, a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, and I simply can’t afford to go out to the local quilt shop and pick out a bunch of fabric to make myself a quilt. I can, however, stalk the thrift stores for fabric to repurpose–there is a crazy amount of yardage in a woman’s skirt, for instance. There is no way that I’d pay $60 for a vintage band tee-inspired dress from that rock-’n-roll children’s boutique at the mall, especially when I can make my own children’s clothes from real vintage band tees. Recycled materials just happen to be way cheaper than new ones, and if they’ve already been used and they still look good, then chances are they’re sturdy enough for our hard living. Natural materials can cost a lot more, if you’re the type who’s really into wool felt or soy crayons, for instance (I’m not), but the activities that I enjoy, such as making my own soap, and my own bread, and even our own play dough, save so much money that the natural ingredients that go into them are actually quite affordable.
3. What inspires you?
My interests, my partner’s interests, and my girls’ interests always inspire me to make cool stuff that we will love. I do stuff with vinyl record albums and old books because I love to read and collect vinyl; I do stuff with comic books all the time now that my partner’s gotten me really into them; the Star Wars log-cabin T-shirt quilt that I’m working on right now is for my partner because he loves Star Wars; and every single stuffed dinosaur, felt dinosaur play set, dinosaur T-shirt quilt, etc., has been inspired by my daughter’s love of dinosaurs. Duplicate all that for the second daughter, but her loves are ponies and rainbows.
Since I’ve started homeschooling with my girls, I’ve also started getting really into creating educational fun stuff with them, out of natural or recycled materials. We’ve made our own peace flags after a terrific field trip to the Tibetan Cultural Center here, and the most elaborate rainbow layer cake ever, with the order of colors absolutely perfect, and a Greek and Latin dinosaur name game so crazy that probably nobody but us would ever want to play it.
Just lately, my younger daughter’s very specific and ahead-of-her-time fashion ethic has inspired me to stretch my boundaries in clothing construction, so look out.
4. Who are your crafty heroes?
I admire pretty much everyone who’s hands-on and handmade, especially when they welcome their kids to jump in with them. My favorites are 5 Orange Potatoes, with their love of nature craft and educational craft, radical unschoolers Ordinary Life Magic, Waldorf family The Magic Onions, clothing designer Lil Blue Boo, and homechooler and seamster Angry Chicken.
I love nothing better than a really great blogger, and when I discover a blogger whose style I love, I go back to the beginning of their blog and read them all the way through, like a novel.
5. Where can folks find your work?
My Pumpkinbear etsy shop is the best place to find the larger runs of my stuff, felt playsets and pinback buttons and the like, while my Imagekind shop is the best place to find my photography. I drag my family to several craft fairs each year, too, most often Strange Folk in St. Louis and Bazaar Bizarre in Cleveland, and there I show off my large runs and my one-of-a-kind items, like my quilts and stuff made from vintage fabrics, and I test new products there, too. I keep all my process-work and my efforts to survive the daily hijinks of my handmade, homeschooling life at my Craft Knife blog, and I post regularly at Crafting a Green World, as well.