Dayna

Crafty Scientist – Dayna Mankowski
Website – Link.

Dayna Mankowski is the Crafty Scientist. I met her last December while I was in Rhode Island for the Craftland show. What I love about her craft is that she mixes her science world along with her crafty business. From her beaker candles to the cute “failed experiment” earrings, she bridges these two worlds perfectly. Not to mention, Dayna also works on CROQ, the cool crafty ‘zine for crafters by crafters. I got a chance to talk more with Dayna about her craft and what’s coming up for the Crafty Scientist this year.

Nat: As the Crafty Scientist you make and sell all sorts of cool things that allude to “science” like your beaker candles and the “failed experiment” earrings. Can you tell me how your background as a scientist has influenced your craft (and even vice versa)?

Dayna: Science is sexy! All of the glassware, reagents, and instrumentation used in the lab is really funky. The lab truly lends itself to craft, but biochemistry experiments themselves don’t lend themselves to artistic transfer! I always thought my western blot x-ray films had a beauty even if they ‘failed’ (didn’t show what I needed to see). It was nice to have something from my work in the lab to translate to my work in the craft studio. Having a vision for my site as an “experimental design lab” and being able to have the artists Liz and Eric (Artghost) bring my ideas to life artistically has made all the difference. Being creative and problem solving in the lab is just like tapping into the creativity of craft, making something special for just the right person to love. Following an assay protocol that you designed to solve a particular problem in the lab is just like following a pattern you designed to make the perfect bag for someone.

Nat: What other kinds of stuff do you make for Crafty Scientist?

Dayna: Big plans for 2007! I currently make cat mats and toys with proceeds going to charity, dog treats, crafty tool belts, tote bags of all kinds–recycled, repurposed, and of course, lunch totes! These evolved due to my search for something to hold all my food for the day in, without access to refrigeration, and with a long strap for carrying with all my other stuff from a parking lot far away from my building. Why should lunch suffer? It required a fashion overhaul, and I am constantly improving these and making different styles. I also have an ‘experimental’ section, things that I try for fun and see if they are successful on the site or at shows.

Nat: Aside from science, where else do you get your design inspiration from?

Dayna: I love mid century modern design, the clean lines, and especially the prints used by the designers. I use bark cloth, a heavier weight material like canvas, which was used back then, to make many of my totes and zip clutches. But, design inspiration comes from everywhere! You have to be open to it, and also see what kind of problems you are having that can be solved with craft as well.

Nat: What are some of your favorite crafting books or magazines? Do you visit any craft sites regularly?

Dayna: So many new magazines are out now, and I read every one! CROQ, of course , and I particularly love CRAFT, as it is written like a good lab report! I also read Bust, Venus, Readymade, Adorn, Cutting Edge, Sew News, and lots of knitting magazines, especially from Interweave press. I don’t do as much looking on the web for craft anymore (no time!), but Craftster, the CRAFT blog, and individual crafty blogs are sources for information and inspiration.

Nat: Do you have a special crafting tip you can share with us?

Dayna: I would say the best tip is to look at nontraditional items as crafting supplies and find another use for them — it makes for exciting craft and you are always inspired. Be excited and inspired by everything, and trust yourself that what you make is good. Don’t make things you don’t love for any reason!

You are also one of the founders of CROQzine! Tell us more about CROQ and what you do there.  How do you find time to do it all?!

Dayna: With CROQ, I am an idea generator and writer. I am also helping more with collating stories and illustrators from our contributors, and there are many! CROQ started as an off shoot from The Sampler, as we thought it would be fun to find out more about what crafters are doing, what they are about personally, and be the first zine “by the crafter, for the crafter”. It is fantastic to work with such a talented bunch of people, from all over the country and world! I have met some of our staff in person, and will meet more soon. Finding time for everything is a struggle, but our finished product is so amazing, a few sleepless nights are worth it!

Nat: What are some new things we can expect to see from you soon?

Dayna: With my new studio space and lots of room to craft in, many new things are happening! I am working on new quilted pieces, plus designing my own fabric for use. I am currently back in love with knitting, and recently got a wheel and have spun my own yarn, so perhaps some handmade/handknit items for sale. You never know in the design lab.