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Interview by Brookelynn Morris

Diane Gilleland is a gem. Her website, CraftyPod, is an alpha blog that the entire community turns to for inspiration. Diane works tirelessly to champion the unknown crafter and is a proponent of concepts that many bloggers neglect, like attribution. She also recognizes that when crafters blog, they are often posting because it’s their passion and not their income, so Diane is always striving to support what she calls “Free.” It’s just one example of how she is an innovator and a beloved pillar of the craft movement.

One Project You Are Particularly Proud Of

1: Although I had to give up podcasting earlier this year, I’m still very proud of my CraftyPod archive of over 100 shows. I’ve done my best to keep them very “evergreen,” so crafters can listen while they craft even years later, and still find interesting, inspiring ideas.

Two Mistakes You’ve Made in the Past

1: It’s hard to identify mistakes, because I usually use them as stepping stones to the next version of whatever I’m doing. But here’s one: When my personal blog started to grow back in 2006, I didn’t pay enough attention to what I wanted to get out of that growth. This led to me putting thousands of hours into blogging, and eventually burning out. If I had just set some concrete goals for growing my blog, and what opportunities I wanted to create from that, I could have focused my energies more tightly, had better results, and stayed healthier.

2: In my 20s and 30s, I also made the mistake of living mostly on candy and coffee. It’s rocket fuel, to be sure, but years of that nutritional abuse has left me hypoglycemic, and now I have to watch my blood sugar levels all the time. So, don’t be like me, kids.

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Three Things That Make Your Work Unique

1: All my making is about process, not finished product. The minute I finish making anything, I lose interest in it. It’s really the hours spent making that matter to me. So the tutorials I’ve shared online always involve some kind of interesting process – either hybridizing two materials together, or getting one material to behave like another. I may not have the design skills other crafters do, but I think my projects are always an interesting ride.

2: I try to craft from the mindset of 60s and 70s craft books. I’m not all that interested in trends, but in making things I haven’t seen elsewhere.

3: I am fundamentally incapable of making the same thing more than once.

Four Tools You Love to Use

1: This may not technically count as a tool, but I adore low-tack painter’s tape. Seriously, I use it for all kinds of crafts. It holds paper in place without tearing it. It holds fabric and vinyl in place while you sew. It keeps jewelry components from sliding while glue dries. It makes a nice straightedge for painting (of course). And it keeps rolls of paper and fabric tidy without marring them.

2: My tiny little Clover Cutwork scissors go all over with me. They’re the perfect size for snipping threads from sewing and stitchery projects. And they’re seriously sharp, so they make small cuts in fabric very precisely. (They’d do the same for paper, but I need to get another pair. I’m a crazy person about keeping fabric and paper scissors separate.)

3: Clover Yo-Yo Makers are so easy and fun to play with. I love yo-yo crafts, but I’m terrible at making nice ones without aid. The Maker is a two-part template you clamp around your fabric, and then just follow the stitching holes. Easy peasy. You can even get yo-yo makers in heart, flower, and oval shapes!

4: Apple devices are probably my most-used tools. I’m on my Mac about 10 hours a day. I write with it, I find inspiration and ideas with it, and I use it to share with my community. And, obsessively enough, when I’m not on there, I’m on my iPhone or iPad. Wow, having just written that, I see that I may have a problem. :-)

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Five Inspirations

1: I never get tired of looking at craft books from the 60s and 70s! I love the exuberant use of color, and I love how over-the-top many of the designs seem. I think this was an era of crafting where it was all about making things that had never been seen before, and I love how that makes me think about crafting in new ways even now.

2: I love going places that shake me out of my visual preconceptions. In an Asian or Indian grocery store, where products are unfamiliar to me, I’m more able to appreciate color combinations and interesting packaging design. In a hardware store, I can look at materials I wouldn’t know how to use for home improvement, and see the crafty possibilities.

3: Similarly, I have to give myself a complete change of scenery regularly. When you work from home and spend a lot of time online, it’s so helpful to get outside and be in fresh places. I get so much creative refreshment from a simple trip to the farmer’s market, nature park, or even walking around a new-to-me neighborhood.

4: My mom is a huge source of inspiration. She’s so genuinely interested in crafts across the entire spectrum, and she loves to cross-pollinate one craft with another. We’re great at brainstorming together.

5: It may sound cliche, but I get endless inspiration from the online crafty community – not just for project ideas, but for new ways of communicating, sharing, and working together. We’re all so lucky to be present at this moment in time!

More:

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with Lish Dorset

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Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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