Creative Assignment: Egg
Balancing work and play

Wise Craft - Interview with the author and book giveaway

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Comments

Kris

Hi, I'd love to win a copy! I really enjoyed reading this interview. On my crafting 'agenda' :-) is currently: sewing an Everyday Skirt for myself, a few pairs of shorts for my son, Koolaid dying some play silks and felting some rocks for his Easter basket.

Tamie

I have several projects on my list- a charity quilt that I need to get going, a secret sister swap, some blocks for a group quilt and those don't even count some of my own projects for me. Lots to do.

Jill

One can never have too many craft projects! I look forward to seeing this book!

Margo

I hope to get to sew some new spring dresses for myself! And also some new fabric grocery shopping bags.

Jessica

I have a list a mile long! But the most pressing will be the quilt for my husband. His birthday is on Friday and I still have to quilt it!

Erica

I'm in the process of working on 4 quilts right now (Swell is being hand quilted, Anna Maria Horner's Feathers, Color Dive, and Flight Map are being pieced. I guess I have a thing for her patterns as well as fabrics lol)

Jenny

I have several beaded wrap bracelets to make as gifts. I also hope to make some garden markers. And something so simple as spray painting flower pots. We just found out we are moving to a new state this summer, that means lots of new projects; probably starting with pillows or maybe curtains or maybe a fun project with my son and daughter..too many to count! Thank you for the opportunity to win this book. It looks fantastic! I have had it on my wish list for awhile, just waiting for the right time to buy it.
Thank you again.

daniela

there are two quilts having to be finished, some flower wanting to be crochet, and a dress for my big girl. and i'm writing a bit, just for myself

Susan

My youngest daughter is graduating high school this year, so I have a couple of handmade books in the works for her. I'm also planning on some new pillows to brighten things up inside and out before her graduation party. Blair's book looks awesome. Thanks for the chance to win. :)

Emma

The book looks lovely. On my agenda this spring is garment making for myself - I really need to revamp my wardrobe! I'm working on a blouse at the minute, and I'd like to make a skirt or two as well.

tartaruga dos tartarouchos

I have a quilt for my daughter on the go for a year long now, and a few clother for my kids and to give as presents, and... surely a lot more will be coming :-)

wintu nancy

I'm all for finding new uses for second hand items. Would love a free copy of the book. I could enjoy it and then donate it to our local library.
Thanks you guys...

Kate

Oh, so many things! Finishing a baby quilt for a dear little baby boy who somehow has already turned 6 months! and some girly quilts for my two girls :)

dana

At the moment, a beaded necklace, new sandwich/snack bags, a baby blanket (knit), and the perennial sock-knitting that lives in my purse. Probably more that I'm not remembering as well...

Really looking forward to seeing the book!

Julie Mehigan

The book looks great! I need to finish a baby quilt for my new nephew/niece due soon. And would love to make some new pillow covers for my sofa

Suzanne

I have grand plans to make pin cushions, mug rugs and some more I spy quilts. Thank you for the review. Blair's book looks like it has entry points for so many people.

melissa

A couple aprons, a bag and a bunch of other stuff!

C.E.R.

I need to get creative with all the bottle caps I've been collecting!

dawn in NL

Looks like a fabulous book.
I am currently finishing off a pair of socks and itching to get started on a lace sweater for me. But what is really cooking in my head is the idea of trying to make a quilt.

Thanks Erin and Blair for all your inspiring work.

SandraR

I have two patchwork Christmas trees to make for my daughters and a project bag to make. Thanks for the chance.

Sue

The list is long: but mainly finishing a coat when I'd rather be quilting. This book looks great - thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

tameka

I would love to have this book. I am currently working on a quilt for my king-size bed and I'm sure this book could give me some tips. Also, I need to make my home reflect my personal style, which I'm sure this book will also help with.

Laura

I would love a copy of this book! i plan to make mini quilts into pillow covers for a flea market in a couple of weeks.

Victoria

I would love to have this book! Thank you for the information and for a chance to win. Right now, I have in mind a sack for son's train tracks and a dress for myself. But I constantly think of our household things, how to decorate, personalize and live frugally. Thank you again.

Robin

I've got tons going on, with nothing finished..... pin cushions, dolls, and summer weight quilt/cape for the boys.

Teri

i plan on finishing some things that I have started.

Brynn Crowe

Great looking and really like the ideas shown.

Jann

I am starting a quilt for my little grand daughter, and also want to
make her a cloth raggedy doll, and hopefully a little summer sun dress...
also want to make a new table runner. That should keep me busy for
a few months. The book looks interesting. I like to recycle older
clothing fabrics whenever possible.
Jann Cole

Julie Kraft

Hi, my short list of projects includes reupholstering a chair for my sister, making repairs to a quilt I made when I was in college, rewiring a lamp, and fabric-lining an art nouuveau jewelry box.

Kathy Davis

Crafts on my list are to finish a log cabin quilt and make a few quilted purses for a local charity fundraiser.
kdavis1@centurytel.net

Lisa

On my list are quite a few things, but first I'd like to find a dresser for my bedroom so that I can paint it, then make some curtains and some pillows for the bed. I want to make my mom a tote bag with some Downton Abbey fabric (she's a huge fan) for her birthday next month. And - I always have some other project (or 2 or 3) going - usually a hat, cowl or dishrag! Thank you for the opportunity.

MichelleElaine

I want to make curtains for my daughter's bedroom. She's moving from being my cutie girl to my fashionista tween. Thanks for the chance to win!

Dita

I'll be making a table runner for my mom's birthday!

Mary Ann Cauthen

Oh, I love the looks of this book. I am eager to get into some of the quilting projects. Thanks for the give away! Mary Ann C.

Darla

I am trying to focus on finishing 3 pillows for outdoors before summer is over...mind you, just finishing. I would like to do some more pillows/chair cushions for outdoors as well. This book looks great--very inspiring for summer. Thanks for the opportunity!

mary ellen peterson

the book looks like a keeper, love the name too. i'm trying to get caught up on fmq. i have three quilt tops to quilt. there it's in writing, back to my juki!!

Stacey

That book looks great! I'm working on a plaid scrappy quilt and 'seashell tiling' my small bathroom.

Karin

I need to finish up a quilt and a sweater!

Jude Jones

Looks like a great book. I am working on finishing a couple of quilts i took classes on last year. Thank you for the give away.

Lisa t

I have a pair of slippers to finish knitting. Luckily they're for me and not the boys or they'd already be outgrown.

Sarah

Thank you for the giveaway. The book looks and sounds wonderful, and I would love it as we've just moved and I'm decorating our whole house at the moment!

Amy

Fun book! My craft project is to make an upholstered and tufted headboard.

Karrie Smith

Quilts and dresses and skirts for myself. Thanks for the chance to win!

Rebecca Tan

Lovely interview. On my craft list...
After a summer of swimming my beach bag fell apart so a strong, roomy bag with space for towels, goggles, arm-bands and sunscreen is first on the list.
Finishing a quilt for my nephew.
Making a few doll-sized quilts for my girls beloved "babies".
Covering some wooden letters with fabric
Honestly, I could go on for ages but given that spring, for me, is still 5 months away, I should have time.

Gill

This looks a great book - I'd love to win a copy!
I need to get a baby quilt for my niece finished

Jess

I've started to get into upcycling / repurposing thrift store finds! Next up is a skirt.

cons

I'm looking forward to doing some hand quilting again. Thanks for the chance to win the book. It looks great!

Darcy

Blair is another blogger I feel like I "know" after reading her blog for so many years, thanks for a fun interview. Knowing how great her projects are this is a book I've been very much anticipating :-)

Barbara

So many projects are tugging at my heartstrings. My list includes pillow covers for a friend, tote bags for various others, quilt for my granddaughter, and a zippered pouch, yes I'm going to tackle a zipper (little scarry), but I've been wanting to make one for ever. Thanks Erin, for this opportunity to win Blair's book.

Patricia Crowley

I want to make some new pillows for my family room couches!

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