Monday, May 27, 2013

A New Favorite Magazine

I've recently begun reading a new UK-based magazine, Mollie Makes, that Hancock Fabrics carries. "Mollie Makes is a lifestyle and craft magazine which brings you the best of craft online, a look inside the homes of the world’s most creative crafters, tutorials on inspiring makes, round ups of the most covetable stash and tours of the crafty capitals of the world."

Damn you, Hancocks, for carrying such great magazines!!!! [Shaking my fist in the air] It's cheaper to go to the store each month to look for the magazine than it would be to get a subscription sent to me from across the pond.

One of my favorite features of Mollie Makes is the interviews the do with different artists, following a Q&A type format and including pictures of their work spaces. The bummer is, for any of you new MM readers, is they don't carry the same content online for free. You can get it online but you have to have a subscription. My advice is to skip it online and get the real paper magazine instead. That way, you get the freebie projects that sometimes come with the issues, and you have the patterns for the featured projects in the magazine itself.

Anyway, I've been inspired enough by those interviews that I'm going to make the rest of this post into one of those interviews, except that I'm interviewing myself, as if I were an actual professional artist of some kind! The questions and the format below really follow the interview Mollie Makes staff members Katie Allen and Debi Treloar did with Holly Becker in issue #21.
a Coke and a chat with...


A former internet based artist turned true life artist wants everyone to know they have an artist inside of themselves. You just have to know how to find inspiration to let those creative juices flow.

The blog was started in July 2009 as a way to work on keeping up with her writing skills when she was laid off from a non-profit job as the U.S. economy tanked. With jobs and volunteer opportunities in short supply, Amy Lynn turned to the Internet. "Even with friends in real life and on Facebook, I felt like I needed to create my own personal environment," Amy Lynn said. "I meant to use my new blog as a way to give my own personal take on various news stories with intelligence and sarcasm (think The Daily Show with John Stewart meets Mystery Science Theater 3000), but over time, it became an online diary and arts and craft blog."

In 2009, Amy Lynn discovered the world of Craftster, an online community where people share hip, off-beat, crafty diy (do it yourself) projects. The term "Craftster" means "crafty hipster" and is also meant to be an homage to the pioneer peer-to-peer sites Napster and Friendster. While wiling away the days at a former unproductive, unsatisfying part-time job (the first job she could find after being laid off), Amy Lynn felt like the floodgates to the person she was supposed to be, had come slamming open.

"It was like discovering a part of myself that I had only felt existed. Here were all these really talented people, making and displaying art, trading it, teaching others their particular craft.Before Craftster, her interests laid mainly in crochet and the random, simple sewing project. "My idea of sewing was using my machine to sew patches on my husband's uniform." After wearing out a simple sewing machine while making a Jedi costume (shown below) for Halloween one year, Amy Lynn's husband got her a new machine and she has added simple clothing modifications to her repitoire, having received requests from a friend to help alter her clothes.

"I started printing out instructions and PDF'ing pages [from Craftster] to keep for later on my computer, so I could make the same things," she said. "If I didn't make them outright, I made it with changes so that it was still mine."

The crafting bug took hold. Since becoming a Craftster member, Amy Lynn has started painting, sewing, making cards, plush toys, jewelry, holiday decorations, and more. As of today, Amy Lynn's blog has more than 650 entries, and on Craftster, she's made almost 300 posts. But all of that blogging and crafting did turn into something else as well: Amy Lynn became a weekly poster at Geek Crafts.

We caught up with Amy Lynn to find out how she turned her blog into a thriving lifestyle.

Describe your creative style.
Upcycled. Thrift store. Buying something, anything, and changing it into something more personal.

Which books and magazines are currently on your bedside table?
Two Stephen King books, a Star Trek: The Next Generation paperback, Mollie Makes magazine, Paper Crafts magazine, and Card Maker magazine.

Name your top three creative blogs.
Craftster, Better After and Epbot.

Amy Lynn's computer amoire desk becomes crafting home to a crochet pattern she's working on creating, while watching  You Tube videos.

How does your creative process work?
I'm not sure if there's an actual process, other than trial and error. My attempt at making resin pendants was pretty dismal, because I was impatient, but I tried them. 

What it boils down to is this: something catches my eye and I want to try to make it, so I give it a go. Friends and family have sent me requests on things they want me to make them. I am way pickier about making things for others than I am for myself. If it's not perfect, it doesn't go out because I don't want something less than great to be out there in the world, representing me.

Where do you search for inspiration?
Craftster. I check there when I need a creative pick-me-up. My friends. I also take photos. If I don't have my camera, I at least have my cell phone on me. I've taken photos of my television on pause because I liked someone's shirt on the show and wanted to create it at some point.
Billy Joel records and Spider-Man movie posters in frames on the walls and ceiling.
Tell us about your workspace? How is it decorated?
It's a cozy space in our attic. It's got a slanted ceiling, a great raised storage space on one side (reminds me of the Mom's attics in U-Haul trucks) and has wood paneling all the way around. It's actually the only room in the attic that is completely finished and has power, plus has a window AC unit in it, even though it is hooked up to the house's heat and AC unit. 

The walls are covered with framed movie posters and items I've received from other artists in Craftster swaps. I've got a futon covered in a quilt I sewed, a tube tv for my PS2 sitting on top of a small bookshelf, and my computer armor and chair up there. My sewing "table" is another small bookshelf with tape measures hot glued to it, and a scooter fender lamp hanging above it. My sewing chair was an antique from my grandmother that my mother re-finished about 25 years ago (my sister has the matching chair). 

Mini quilts made for Amy Lynn by other artists on a door to the rest of the attic.

What's the best piece of creative advice you have ever been given?
"You are too hard on yourself." That comes from my husband. And he's right. I am my own worst critic. I think that could be translated into, "You're better than what you realize."

How important has social networking been to you as an artist?
For me, not so much. I gave up Facebook 1-2 years ago, and I gave up Twitter a year before that. I don't get much out of the 140 character messages you're limited to with Twitter, and with Facebook, there was too much drama and not enough good content to wade through. I'm much more interested in the Internet as a way to connect with other artists. Give me online boards or email over FB notifications any day, because you can get more in-depth with the people you meet online.

Do you have any tips for those who want to make a career from their blog or their art?
Try, try, try. 

Don't give up. 

Seek out people who enjoy art, whether it's your style of art or something simple. If you start finding out what people like, you're going to find people that like what you are creating. Birds of a feather flock together.

What projects are you currently working on?
A crochet pattern for a knock off Dolce and Gabbana "Miss Sicily" purse I saw online for $2895. It's a pattern that if I still had my (short lived) Etsy shop that I would totally sell, maybe even make them up for commissioned sales. But since I'm not selling patterns anymore, I'll share the pattern on my own blog as well as on Craftster.

Describe a typical working day.
Out of bed by 6:30 AM, take care of the pets, out the door at 7:30, breakfast on the go, at work from 8 AM-5 PM (I work for a hospice). Maybe the gym after that, then home. Make some supper, maybe some gardening, some cleaning (right now, I'm forgoing the cleaning because I need to fix my vacuum, and I'm refinishing an old bench), and then some TV with my husband, a little crafting while watching You Tube videos or Doctor Who, and then in bed between 11:30 PM-midnight.

You still have a career in the for-profit sector--what would inspire you to make a career change?
I'd jump ship to a non-profit or an animal cause of some kind in a heartbeat. I just need an offer!

Which part of your varied career do you enjoy the most?
Just the fact that it has been varied. I've worked in fast food, a grocery store, flower shops, for the military, the DOT, an international non-profit, and more. I actually have preferred the positions I've had that were non-profit, or where I was "just" a volunteer, because in volunteer positions, you feel more needed and you're working with like-minded individuals that are about the cause, not the bottom line.

Plus, the experiences are just great. I volunteered at a zoo once and got to pet a rhino that wanted some attention. How often does anyone get a scratch a rhino around his horns, or pat him on the rump as he walks away?