What The Guilty Crafter Can Teach You About Crafting Without Guilt

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An Interview with Angela Daniels, The Guilty Crafter and Lead Fiskateer

Angela Daniels has got to have one of the funnest jobs in the world! A mom of two, Angela left the corporate world and turned her DIY craftines into a job with Fiskars — the scissor company — as a Lead Fiskateer. Cool, right? Well, actually, the title that follows her emails is: Aspiring Domestic Goddess & Lead Brand Ambassador for Fiskars (gasp!), but whatever her title is, she’s rad!! I met Angela at Maker Faire this past summer, and was drawn in by her cheery “turn your t-shirts into flowers” tutorial. Angela is funny and adorable, and I hope you’ll enjoy hearing all about her work while getting inspired to follow your bliss and turn your recyclables into something fabulous.

{Read through for details on how you can enter to win a fabulous craft package.}

First of all, you’re a Fiskateer! Whaaaa?! What exactly does a Fiskateer do (and how did you land such a cool job)?

It is THE coolest job. Basically, I was hired to blog for Fiskars after being a member of their community at www.Fiskateers.com, and then applied to become a “Lead Fiskateer.” I co-lead a community of over 8,000 enthusiastic crafters. I had already demonstrated that I love Fiskars tools and that I have an almost endless supply of energy for blogging and traveling and meeting other crafters. Our whole Fiskateer community is founded on one simple philosophy- share your passion for crafting. That is something that comes naturally to me.

I love how you refer to yourself as a domestic goddess wannabe! Can you tell us more about your background and how you found yourself on this journey?

I was raised by a feminist and I married a man whose mother and grandmother are also excellent role models of feminism. They are smart, funny and find most of their self-satisfaction through the work they’ve done outside the home. I always thought I would follow suit. I had a corporate job for several years but 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to stay home with my 2 kids and, I wish I could say I have never looked back. I DO! I loved my full-time job quite a bit. I got lots of enjoyment out of being good at what I did and working long hours (I was a corporate trainer). It took me a full 8 years at least to settle down and realize I have a pretty good gig at home. Why not have fun with it? Instead of balking at traditional 50′s stereotypes of stay-at-home moms, why not throw on a vintage apron, some pearls while I burn Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? The more I have decided to try and let go of the idea of perfection and not take it so seriously, the more fun I’ve had with it. I can even make homemade macaroni and cheese now. Of course every mom reading this will completely understand when I tell you that my kids much prefer Kraft no matter how truly delicious mine is. Kids. Sigh.

When I met you, you were making these super-cool, simple upcycled fabric flowers at the Make Faire. You have a knack for mixing style with recycling…how do you do it?

Thank you so much. I love showing very short, simple and inexpensive projects to people as a gateway to encouraging them to explore more complicated, larger projects (much in the same way I work with simple, short ingredient list recipes as a fledgling cook). I find my recycling ideas through guilt. Really. My kids attended a Montessori school when they were little and a big emphasis was put on recycling. The idea stuck and I always feel a little guilty about throwing out good basic materials. I’ll keep them (much to my husband’s chagrin) and eventually the materials will inspire some kind of craft or another. One of my favorite materials is the netting you get when you buy fruits or vegetables in bulk. It usually comes in bright colors (orange around oranges, yellow around lemons, etc.) and adds such a fun texture to papercrafting. Being a Fiskateer means Fiskars sends me a lot of tools to try- good creative tools are always a wonderful way to inspire upcycled craft projects.

In all your pictures and videos, you sport some fabulous 1950′s-ish wigs and accessories, and you seem to be brimming with creative ideas. Where do you get your ideas from and how do you feed your creativity?

My energy and creativity can be traced directly back to my dislike for basic housework. The higher the piles of laundry, the more compelled I feel to dive into a craft project and ignore the pile. I suppose a childhood filled with artistic and crafty relatives didn’t hurt either. It was a rare day as a kid that we didn’t have to clear off a pile of art supplies off the dining room table every night for dinner. My dining room table is following in that same family tradition.

Can you tell us more about your new webseries “The Guilty Crafter.” How do guilt and crafting go together?

I have spent so many years doing videos sponsored by various crafting companies and, as much as I have enjoyed that, I know my videos sometimes came across as a little to “corporate.” If you have met me in person and crafted with me, I am much less serious when it comes to my love of crafting. I realized that a lot of times, I was feeling guilty if I spent too much of my time crafting but I also felt guilty if I wasn’t crafting things for my kids. I also feel guilty if I buy supplies and never follow through with using them OR if I follow through but my projects didn’t look they belonged in a magazine. After spending time with Kent Nichols (producer and co-writer of AskANinja.com), he found my conflicting feelings humorous and suggested that we collaborate on a video series that shows crafting from a real crafter’s point of view. My projects are quick, easy and cheap and guilt goes, I really can’t win so I decided to embrace those feelings and see if other crafters out there feel the same way.

Here’s an example…

I read that you take the statement, “I’m not creative at all,” as a personal challenge. What would you want someone who feels lacking in creativity to know or think about?

I come from a long line of women who simply do not cook. Almost at all. We’re not foodies and I think all of us, if we lived alone, would survive on olives, cheese and wine. I spent the first few years of my marriage telling people, “I can’t cook at ALL” and couldn’t ever understand why people would insist that cooking is EASY. Until I opened my mind to really giving it a try a year ago. To my surprise, cooking (which can be a creative outlet) can be fun. Sometimes I mess everything up (okay, a lot of times) but quite often, I make something almost tasty and my family loves that. I had to kind of go through that process to understand why people balk at crafting. It’s the same thing. You have to be willing to let go of perfection, enjoy the process and allow yourself those moments when you can think- hey, that’s not too bad! Good for me! And you have to laugh at the burnt dishes and the ones with missing ingredients and be okay with scrapping the whole thing and opting for fast food some nights.

Where can we find more of you?

You can find me at all these places under both “AngelaDaniels” and “GuiltyCrafter.” I continue to share random ideas on achieving my goal of domestic goddess status on my personal blog at www.angeladaniels.squarespace.com. I am clearly obsessed by all the inspiration there is to find and share on the internet!

Exciting Opportunity!!: If anyone is interested in becoming a Fiskateer, email Angela directly at angela@fiskateers.com.

More of Angela Daniels online:

WebsitesFiskateer WebsiteAngela’s personal blog
Twitter: GuiltyCrafterAngelaDaniels, Fiskateers
Facebook: Angela’s Facebook page, The Guilty Crafter

Giveaway!

Angela has generously offered to give away one fabulous prize package that includes her number one favorite tool- the Fiskars Hand Drill, a pair of Fiskars scissors, Angela’s favorite self-stick stamp set, and a few surprises. Oh, how I wish I could win this fun prize!

To enter: Just leave a comment and share something that you feel guilty about (if you’re guilt-free, pat yourself on the back and leave a nice comment instead). The winner will be chosen by random number generator. The giveaway is only open to US addresses. Deadline to enter: Monday, November 28 at 9 pm PST.   Thank you to everyone for your funny, heartfelt, and entertaining comments! Lucy has been selected as the winner and the giveaway is closed

Interview with Lisa Chouinard from Feto Soap

Make Your Own Soap Kit - Click Image to Close

lisa chouinardI’m excited to be joined today by soap artisan Lisa Chouinard who hand makes small batches of soap from her shop, Feto Soap, in Austin, Texas. We made soap last month for Mother’s Day, so when I recently learned about Feto Soap at the Maker Faire, I thought it would be fun to glean some tips from a soap master on making soap with kids!

 

::Three TinkerLab followers will have the chance to win Feto Soap gift certificates at the end of this interview.::

feto soap offerings

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to start Feto Soap?

I started making soap in the summer of 2003 as a hobby while I was working at a tech support job and was posting pictures and instructions of my projects to online craft forums. Many of the people weren’t interested in making their own soap, but they liked my soap and asked if they could buy what I was making. A few months later I started Feto Soap. In the beginning my goal was to make enough money to keep in supplies (so I could keep making new things). I met and exceeded that goal a few years ago and am in the process of making new goals, defining myself and my company.

Can you talk about your experimentation process and how you come up with your recipes?

In the beginning I would just make soap with whatever I had on hand (I bought many different materials to work with) to see what I could come up with. When I started out what I envisioned didn’t always translate to what I was making. Here’s an example: I was trying to make a soap light purple to match the fragrance called “relaxing” and it came out blue-veined instead when I added heat and clay to it. It came out beautifully even though it was not what I had planned. I had a naming contest for the soap and the winner received the bar they named. (Avocado Clay Spa) Now most of my ideas come out closer or exactly how I visualize them, but only because I’ve done a TON of experimentation at this point.

oakmoss sandalwood handmade soap

Have there been any experiment disasters?

Yes. The first few times I attempted to made soap from scratch I was impatient and inexperienced, so I didn’t get my temperatures right, resulting big caustic mess! (and no soap) Thankfully I didn’t let that stop me and I tried again and again until I got it right. Here’s a picture of soap I mistakenly added honey too while it was cooking (resulting in “burned” soap).

honey hot process

Where do you get your inspiration?

Some of my inspirations are food and candy. I saw lemon bars in the case at the local cafe, and the gears in my head started whirring… I have a square mold, lemon fragrance & powdered sugar… I can make Lemon Bar Soap! Another time this happened chocolate mints arrived at the end of a meal. I went home and made Chocolate Mint Soap with peppermint essential oil and added cocoa powder to my chocolate soap.

You run soap-making workshops that attract a lot of kids and families. What do people seem to enjoy about soapmaking?

People like making things. Melt and pour soapmaking is an easy and accessible medium. There’s no one who can’t do it, and it’s quick! You don’t have to have a practiced skill (like to be able to draw) and you can create a little piece of usable art in under an hour!

What tips do you have for those of us interested in setting up our own soap-making experiments at home or school?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on molds for soap. My first loaf mold was plastic packaging that was either going to be thrown away or recycled. When you repurpose something that wasn’t a soap mold and turn it into a soap mold, it’s called a “found mold” You can use yogurt and other plastic food containers, jello molds, candy molds – they just need to be plastic, silicone and flexible. (not metal) You can also use milk cartons. You might have to cut them away to get the soap out. After you figure out what can be a soap mold, EVERYTHING starts looking like a potential soap mold.

honey bear soap

Will you share some of your soapmaking tips?

  • Not sure how much soap will fit into your mold? Fill it up with water and pour into a graduated measuring cup.
  • Want to get rid those pesky bubbles that came up after you poured your soap into the mold? Fill a small spray bottle up full of rubbing alcohol. Immediately after pouring the soap into the mold, spray the top once or twice to break the surface tension of the bubbles.

More tips and resources here: http://fetosoap.com/blog/soapmaking-tips/

Making soap at #makerfaire!

How was your creativity encouraged in childhood?

I was always surrounded by books and musical instruments, so my creativity was encouraged by reading and playing music. I day dreamt a lot and I think that was influenced by all the books I had access to read.

What are you stumbling on that feels important or exciting?

Soapmaking suppliers are beginning to acknowledge the need and desire for more natural products and making something called natural fragrance oils. Before, if you wanted to scent a product with something like Dreamsicle, your only choice was a fragrance oil, which was usually synthetic and not natural. I’m glad natural choices are available and am working on replacing my fragrance oils with natural alternatives when they are available.

Anything else you would like to add?

I can’t wait for the next Maker Faire to make soap with you all! I have applied to World Maker Faire and will announce it on my blog as soon as I know! http://fetosoap.com/blog

Thank you Lisa! It was fun talking with you today.

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Giveaway!!

Lisa is giving away $6 gift certificates (enough to buy a soap-making kit or bar of hand made soap) to three lucky readers. To enter, leave a comment by Wednesday, June 29 at 8 pm PST. Winners will be notified by email or Facebook.

Extra Entries:

  • Like TinkerLab on Facebook and leave a comment on the TinkerLab Facebook wall.
  • Share this giveaway in your Facebook status and leave the link to your profile.
  • Blog about this post with a direct link pointing to this giveaway. Leave me a link so I can check it out!

Interview with Matt Jervis of MacGyverClass!

macgyverclass tshirts

Matt Jervis runs MacGyverClass!, a Berkeley, CA after school program that teaches creative problem solving to kids in K-5th grades. Their mission is to get kids to think creatively and see challenges as an opportunity, not a threat. Special thanks to Matt for being my first interviewee! Interviews with more exciting thinkers on creativity are in the hopper, and I hope you’ll come back for more.

::Two TinkerLab followers will have the chance to win a Challenge Box at the end of this interview.::

I love the name, MacGyverClass! Can you tell me about your program?

Yes! First of all… Thank you so much for seeing value in what we are attempting to do!! Let me begin by addressing the name… MacGyverClass! Now all of us parents know who MacGyver was… which made explaining the crux of the class a bit easier, but the connection to the TV show ends there. The funny thing is, we have brought the word MacGyver to whole new generation! Without them knowing anything about the 80’s TV show, they walk out of my class knowing “MacGyver” as a verb! The MC! program is essentially built to encourage kids to indulge their natural creative abilities through a specialized hands-on activity. And we do that by offering our students an open forum to explore their own ideas through fun random challenges and random materials! The random aspect is very important to the class… We like to say that, “You don’t get to pick your challenges…your challenges pick you!”  and from there we begin!

What led you to start MacGyverClass!?

I’m an artist and a veteran punk rock musician… in other words I’m a creative guy with a penchant for performing…that coupled with a family of artists and teachers… MacGyverClass! evolved very naturally… The first MC! class came to be when my son, Jasper was in Kindergarten and I wanted to get more involved with his class… as a new parent and an artist I decided to offer his teacher an “art” class for one afternoon…  I based it on the crazy creative projects my Dad used to task my brother and I with growing up… making forts and other crazy stuff with just what we had around. As a painter, my Dad was fond of quoting Picasso, and often said  “When Picasso ran out of red paint he would use what he had…blue.” I took much of that to sentiment to heart …and it was from there the idea for MacGyverClass! popped.  I love MacGyverClass! because it’s simple and it can be done at home and it’s lessons are portable.

What age group do you work with?

As for the classes…I like the k-5th grade group… and I require them all to be in one class. This really helps to break down age barriers and form a real community in the class and beyond. As for my afterschool groups, I’ve seen this approach help to create bonds in the halls and on the playground! It’s magical to see a 1st grader and a 4th grader working together…then a kindergartner comes over with a cool idea…boom! That’s when MacGyverClass! really shines!! Separating the kids by grade just doesn’t work well for this program!

What does a typical class look like?

A typical class begins when school ends.  We gather together and we pick our challenge out of a hat.  The kids love being able to pick the challenge… Once the challenge has been picked, with a drum roll of course, I introduce the day’s materials. Every class is different and the materials are chosen with no regard to what the challenge could be.

For those of us interested in replicating a MC!-style class at home or school, could you share a couple of the questions that might get pulled from the hat?

Hmm. This is where MacGyverClass! really gets fun.

Challenges are off the wall but we take them very seriously! ;) In fact we try and link all sorts of vocabulary words to each challenge and keep a conversation going the whole time. That really gets the wheels crankin’… My latest favorite challenges are:

  • With today’s materials make a house for your foot! or…
  • With today’s materials make shoes for time travel!

“With today’s materials create your very own action figure!”

This sounds like a lot of fun! What kind of materials do you use?

I approach each class like a head chef of a restaurant. Like a chef that goes daily to the Farmers Market and picks the latest offerings…I go to various places on my route and find wacky new materials and bring them fresh to each class.  They may range from rolls of aluminum foil… to wine caps or sponges. My favorite materials are the simplest…like egg cartons and VHS tape! The most popular material by far is the duct tape…but we use it in every class and because of that, the kids have developed a pretty savvy appreciation for the “good” stuff.

Why do you think it’s important to get kids to “think creatively and see challenges as opportunities?”

First of all…why not?  I mean, that’s the crux of life right? … to be prepared? I want our kids to be ready and able to deal with the ebbs and flows of life… Change and challenge… If we can start to show kids that to innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat….  Getting acquainted with your creative side is to equip yourself with a real survival skill. Simply I see MacGyverClass! as a metaphor for life; We don’t choose our challenges, our challenges choose us! I hope our kids walk away feeling a little less anxiety when approaching a new challenge and see it more as an opportunity to be creative then a potential for failure. I hope they begin to see an egg carton as compressed paper fibers and not as an egg carton. By that I mean, see the material thru the form. I also hope they have fun ultimately… I feel kids learn best sometimes when they don’t know they’re learning… ;)

Can you tell me more about those intriguing Random Challenges boxes?

The boxes are great for anyone! k- adult… They tap into something we all do and gives enough structure without being too structured. Get a dozen and have them at a party… keep a couple in the trunk for long car rides…take them on the plane! Work as a team or just let your mind wander! It’s like a spa for your creative side.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, Matt!

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Giveaway!!

Giveaway is CLOSED. Matt is giving away two sets of his Random Challenges boxes to two lucky readers. To enter, leave a comment by Monday, June 6 at 8 pm PST, and mention your favorite upcycled found material. Winners will be notified by email or Facebook.

Extra Entries:

  • Like TinkerLab on Facebook and leave a comment on the TinkerLab Facebook wall.
  • Share this giveaway in your Facebook status and leave the link to your profile.
  • Blog about this post with a direct link pointing to this giveaway. Leave me a link so I can check it out!

If you’d like to connect with MacGyverClass!, you can find them on Facebook: facebook.com/macgyverclass.