If you need a burst of fun inspiration look no further than the vintage inspired styles of Cathy Callahan who runs her own crafty business, Cathy of California. I first met Cathy last May at the Maker Faire and was in love with her cute hanging owls and colorful crafts. With her newly launched website and blog, Cathy shares tons of inspiration with photos of her projects or cool craft photos from her vintage craft book collection. I got a chance to talk with Cathy to find out more about her own inspiration and what she’s working on during this busy holiday season!
Nat: Please tell me a bit about your crafty background and your business, Cathy of California.
Cathy: My crafts are based on the crafts I made when I was little or inspired by projects I find in vintage books and magazines. Everything I do is in small runs, I suppose you could call them “limited editions”. I just make a few and play around with different color combinations. My current crafty business more or less grew out of my work as a window dresser. Many of the props I was making had a crafty vibe. It was always a little frustrating for me that the props were used once and thrown away. My crafts now give me an outlet to create things that people can use and enjoy.
Nat: Your crafts have a vintage 60’s look to them which I love. Tell me about your inspiration and how you came up with your design style.
Cathy: It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where my design style came from, but it’s definitely informed by a few things. I was raised in Southern California in the 60s and 70s by a very crafty mom who was always whipping something up for the church bazaar or PTA. I majored in art in college with an emphasis in “applied design” (that’s what they called “crafts” in the 80’s when crafts were not considered to be worthwhile) — fiber art, jewelry, ceramics, etc. I went on to work in the fashion world which is very long hours with no time for my own projects.
As the result of a couple of big changes in my life I found myself with the time to start making things again. Around the same time I discovered all of the independent crafts shows that were going on. I was so excited by the incredible things people were making. I applied for the Bazaar Bizarre in San Francisco and got accepted. It seemed only natural for me to work in the style of crafts that I had been raised on.
Nat: Please share with us some of your recent projects.
Cathy: I have just launched my crafty website and blog. My blog will focus on crafts and design form the 1960s and 70s. I will be featuring images from my collection of vintage books, magazines and ephemera as well as some found photos.
My newest crafts that I am selling on Etsy are waste paper baskets, boutique tissue box covers, and pincushions. I am also making some holiday decorations.
I have been working on some papier mache. I also now have access to a kiln so I can start enameling again. I plan to incorporate both of these techniques into some jewelry and home décor projects for next spring.
I was also just a guest artist for Susan Beal’s new book. I was assigned the “sparkle cocktail brooch” project. I based my design on the floral patterns from Enid Collins’ handbags.
Nat: Are there any favorite craft books, magazines, or web sites you like?
Cathy: I have such a huge collection of vintage books and magazines it’s hard to pick a favorite. There were so many great things going on in the world of craft in the 60s and 70s both “high” and “low”. I equally respect, admire and am inspired by both the “how-to” books intended for housewives and the museum catalogues.
Nat: Can you share with us a special crafting tip you have?
Cathy: Just make sure that you’re having fun. It’s not worth it if it becomes a chore. Your crafts should make you, who you’re going to give it to and/or who eventually might purchase it happy!
Nat: What are you working on this winter?
Nat: What’s one thing on your holiday wish list?
Cathy: A vacation!