My friend, Blair Stocker, writes the blog Wise Craft and has just published a book with the same name. Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love is jam-packed with a wide-range of crafts. Seriously, there is something for everyone. The book includes sewing, painting, crocheting, paper, paint and more. There are 60 (!!!) projects divided into four sections based on the seasons of the year. The ideas are clever, with some crafts taking merely minutes to others that are more long-term (quilts, etc.) and most use items you might already own or could pick up easily at a thrift or craft store. Not only are the project varied and interesting, the entire book is a visual treat with gorgeous photographs and illustrations. I asked Blair if I could interview her and she graciously agreed. Here is what she had to say:
Erin: Blair, it's no secret that I have been eagerly waiting to get my hands on your book and I am so happy to finally hold it. Congrats! It's wonderful in so many ways! Can you tell me a little bit about why you wanted to write this book in the first place?
Blair: Thank you Erin! It's been such a fun process to work on this book, and I'm so happy it's out in the world! There are a couple of reasons I wanted to write a book like this. So often in my life I hear people say "I wish I had the patience to do (insert hand making skill here)", "I don't have the patience for (insert project name here)", and "Where do you find the time?". The projects in this book are meant to prove that anyone with the least amount of desire to make their home a reflection of their creativity can do it. Folks are always surprised when I tell them I have no patience and yet I make quilts and other time-consuming crafty projects. Sometimes I like the quick projects with instant gratification, and sometimes I want more from a project and find the process of making it relaxing. Throughout the book there is a range of projects from quick to not so quick, so that folks can find what it is they like to do.
Erin: I've been reading your blog for a long time now and I immediately got the feeling from Wise Craft that the projects are very "Blair". Can you explain your aesthetic and what your approach to crafting and DIY are?
Blair: I am excited to hear that! (I tell everyone in my blog talks that if you want to know what your aesthetic is, blog about it and before long, you can see it). I always challenge myself creatively to use the fabrics, supplies, and materials that I have on hand. What I mean is that I enjoy playing with just the fabrics I have in my stash when I make a quilt, or using just what I have in my basement or can find at the thrift store when I want to make something new for the house. If I really need something else I'll go to a thrift store or secondhand shop, but that's also part of the fun for me. All of the projects in the book were made using what I had or what is easily accessible for everyone. And the colors and fabrics in the book were the ones I found while thrifting. I didn't seek out special fabrics for any of the quilts, I limited it all to what I could find.
Erin: One of the things I love about Wise Craft is the way you organized the crafts. Why did you divide them this way and how did you develop those gorgeous color palettes?
Blair: I wanted the book to feel more like an interiors book, less like a crafty book, because that was something I felt I could contribute to the assortment of craft books on the market right now. I wanted it to be the book I would grab off the shelf for some quick inspiration. Plus, the seasonal chapters reflect how I get creatively inspired (now that it's Spring, I have a desire to make new pillows for our family room, for example.) I wanted each chapter to feel very different from the others, and all the color palettes are based off of something (fabric, yarn, paint, etc) that I found either in my stash or while thrifting. Everyone who worked on the book had their own color card of each of the seasonal palettes and we stuck to those for not only the projects themselves, but also the props and styling of the photos. The photographer, Jane Armstrong, has an incredible eye (she views everything as a vignette or possible photograph).
The crafts are organized within each chapter, basically, from quick and easy to a bit more challenging (a quilt project ends each chapter).
Erin: After reading the book, it easy is to see that you included something for every kind of crafter. Some projects are quick and simple while other are more involved, but still very doable. Did you set about this consciously or is it a natural reflection of the way you craft?
Blair: This is a direct reflection of the way I craft. In every way. I wanted the projects to touch on the different mediums (knitting, crochet, quilting), provide a jumping off point to perhaps introduce the reader to a new technique, without become a true technique book. When the inspiration strikes for me to make something for my own home, it could be any one of these types of crafts, using any kind of material.
Erin: I'm anxious to make the woodgrain quilt and try my hand at dip dyeing dishes (brilliant!). Which of the projects were your favorites to make? Did any surprise you along the way?
Blair: I love the dip-dyed dishes too. I think my very favorite project might be the leather-covered rocks in the Spring section. Peter is a big fan of those (several of his architect coworkers have requested sets to hold down their blueprints) and I love projects that appeal to both men and women. I also love the Avalon quilt in the Winter section. It is made from corduroy clothing my children outgrew, and back with a flannel sheet, and it is THE coziest quilt ever!
Erin: What's next for you and Wise Craft?
Blair: I am working on a new set of quilt patterns that I'm really excited about (those will be out in the next couple of weeks). I will be teaching in 2014 in the Seattle area (details for my first class at Drygoods Design can be found here), and I plan to write more books! (Folks can sign up for my newsletter to get news as it happens.) I will also be at Urban Craft Uprising July 12th and 13th at Seattle Center, talking about and signing copies of my book, with many of its projects there to show and tell. I will also be at Schoolhouse Craft in September 27th and 28th.
2014 is the year I get out of my studio and mingle with the crafty masses and I couldn't be happier!
Erin: That sounds fun! Thanks for taking time to talk with me.
Blair has generously agreed to give away two copies of Wise Craft to House on Hill Road readers. To put your name in the drawing, please comment on this post with what craft projects you have on your to do list this spring before Friday, April 18 at 12pm EST. The drawing is open to US and International addresses. Good luck!
This post contains affiliate links.