Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hillary Lang

If you are a crafter and/or read various craft blogs you must know who Hillary Lang is. In fact, if you don't...where do you live? Well Hillary is the mastermind behind the adorable site Wee Wonderfuls where you can purchase plush patterns of various characters, you can drool over the various projects she seems to always be working on or you can just go there for a little pick me up when your day is grey. Hillary has mastered the art of cute and took it to another level. I have been a fan of hers since I discovered her on the web and continue to love seeing what she is up to. I picked her brain a little in the hopes that more cute power would run off on me...along the way I might have embarrassed her by my super fan questions...I swear I am not creepy :) Enjoy!

S- I basically think you are a genius. You have mastered the art of making everything so cute. The product, the packaging, etc. Do you have a background in design?

HL- Ha! An evil genius I hope. Thanks :) I don't have a background in design, but I've always been a fan of cute.

S- I read on your "About" page that you just started making these cute little toys about three years ago after getting some books out of the library. I love hearing all the trial and error stories as it always makes me feel "normal". What are some of the horrors of your trial and error experiences?

HL- Well I look back on the earliest dolls I made and am pretty horrified. There's an unpacked box of misfit toys somewhere around here. The 3D concept was one I couldn't figure out for quite a while. A toy would look so cute and then I would stuff it and yikes, lots of skinny minnies in that misfit box.

S-You also happen to be an amazing quilter. I have really wanted to get into this quilting thing but I am scared. Any advice to those of us interested in taking a crack at quilting?

HL- Oh geez, thanks! Hardly amazing. I really consider myself a novice quilter. Even after taking a quilting class I still feel like I know nothing about quilting. I think that may be the secret to it, you never feel like you know what you're doing? So maybe it's not something to be too scared of? The trickiest part with making quilts for me is the quilting. You can piece anything together on the sewing machine but to machine quilt a bed size quilt on a sewing machine is a nightmare. So I guess my advice would be start with something small, a crib or lap quilt or even a table runner or placemats. Get a handle on the concepts and work up to tackling a larger project. Of course this is hindsight advice. The first quilt I ever made was queen sized and is still sitting in the guest room at my parents' house with stitch witchery holding it together!

S- I am not sure if you remember but for the second Plush You! show Blair did a tutorial on making your wee wonderfuls for the pre Plush You event. It was such a fun project for many as you really could put as much or as little into it. Was this one of your first masterpieces?

HL- It was something I did early on. I was trying to come up with something more abstract, something just blobby cute. It is a really fun shape and it feels very satisfying with some beans in the bottom. I love checking out the wee gallery. The creations are really all over the board.

S- Your patterns are really great. They all seem very simple to follow, have super cute packaging and are adorable end results. How did you start doing the patterns and what is your process?

HL- Thanks! Well I'd started out trying to sell dolls I had made and then soon realized that wasn't for me. I don't enjoy making the same doll over and over and I'm kind of a freak about my workmanship. I never feel like anything is good enough to sell. So then I started thinking patterns and it's been such a great fit for my husband and I. Process is funny because I don't think I've yet to design a pattern specifically to sell. Wait, our latest, the gnome, I did. Everything else was just something I made and then later decided to do the pattern. So my process is to fish through all the scraps of tracing paper I keep in a bag searching with fingers crossed for pattern pieces, finding what I think is right and trying to recreate the toy, realizing that was a first draft and nowhere near the toy I have in my hand, racking my brain trying to remember what I did to get where I did. Once I've finally recreated the pattern I work on the instructions and drawing the diagrams while Tim works on the design and making everything pretty in Illustrator. Voila! Piece o cake ;)

S- I really still do not see how you have the time to make patterns, blog, flickr, have two kids, a husband, a life, make tons of plush, quilts, etc. How do you do this? Are you just an amazing time management lady, drink 20 cups of coffee a day and not sleep? Any advice for those of us that might need a little help in the time management arena?

HL- It's so hard to find the time. So so hard. I'm really crunched for it now so I find it hard to give any advice. We're always working on new time management schemes. Thing is, it's part of our living now so it is prioritized as such. It's no longer crafting as hobby around here that gets fit into spare moments but rather a hire a babysitter, enlist all the help you can find to keep the small business up and running type of thing.

S- How much time would you say you dedicate to all of your passions. Like plush, embroidery, quilting, etc.?

HL- Well right now plush seems to be pushing the others out except embroidery which is holding it's own. Quilting is making a comeback soon but knitting, oh poor knitting...

S- I feel like a lot of people get really nervous about sharing their patterns, ideas, etc. Not as much as the art world; the craft community is more open to sharing but still. How did you decide to share your work and does it ever make you feel vulnerable?

HL- I used to get really worked up about this sort of thing but at some point I just decided to have faith that I will always have new ideas so I don't have to cling to the old ones so tightly. That doesn't mean I don't get peeved when I see people have modified ever so slightly my patterns to be the basis for their 'original' designs or that I don't get panicked that I'll never have a new idea, but I came to the realization that I couldn't really move forward if I was too uptight about putting my work out there in the world.

S- I am very excited to hear what plans you have for the future? Any you would like to share with us?

HL- Ooh plans! I love plans. Short run, I have lots of fun projects I'm dying to get to for Christmas... glittery felt stockings for the family, a gumdrop quilt, hot air balloon ornaments, and hopefully lots of craft projects with Oscar. After the new year, I don't even know! I keep getting distracted by dreams of doing a book and I love thinking of ideas but the reality of it seems like a giant homework assignment that I just can't imagine committing to. I'd love to do a book diy style, maybe PDF or Lulu. I want to start a new make-a-long story (after finishing the old one of course). I'd like to work on doing some patterns for quilts, also have been kicking around some ideas for illustrated cards, I have dolls sitting around waiting for photo shoots, I've always wanted to do kits with vintage/recycled fabrics, maybe design some fabric, make lots of cute outfits for Phoebe, ouff ok, now I've exhausted myself.

S- How has this overall craft experience, exposure, etc. been for you? What do you see for the craft movement's future?

HL- It's been awesome! Crafting for living? Are you kidding? It's more than I could have ever hoped for. I have no idea what the future has in store for the craft movement. Crafters take over the world? That's where my money is.


Marcia said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview. I love HL and her stuff. It was great to hear a little more about it...makes me like her even more! I really want her to do a pattern of the dolls she makes the post cards of. Aren't they cute!

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Reese52 said...

Great interview.