Thursday, December 11, 2008

Alicia Paulson Interview and Book Giveaway!

Do you ever read a blog and just think I wish their life was mine? Even if you like your life, there is just something about those photos and all the pretty that they surround themselves in...Well this is how I feel about Alicia Paulson. She has the gift to make every thing look beautiful, peaceful and calm. Just how life should be! I am sure she has her ups and downs just like everyone but looking at her blog makes me want to run home and sew and make my house pretty. I had the pleasure of finally meeting Alicia this past weekend at UCU where she did a book signing. She is just as pleasant in person! It was so nice to finally meet her and have her signing her amazing book, Stitched in Time: Memory-Keeping Projects to Sew and Share from the Creator of Posie Gets Cozy. Speaking of which, leave a comment here with contact info for your chance to win your very own copy!

S- For anyone who might not know about you...can you just give us a little bio on yourself?

AP- I am a craft designer – sewing, embroidery, and crochet – living in Portland Oregon. Since 2000, I have designed a small line of one-of-a-kind gifts and accessories called Posie: Rosy Little Things ( Lately, I have been working on books, and publishing my own craft patterns and kits, so that keeps me out of trouble. And I try to write daily at my blog, Posie Gets Cozy ( is sort of the traffic circle that keeps the things that I do organized.

S- Your book, Stitched in Time, recently came out (which amazing!). Can you tell us more about the book and how it came about?

AP- Thank you! The idea first came my way back in January of 2007, when I was approached by a literary agent who knew that Potter Craft, the publisher, was wanting a book of "memory crafts." I had a bunch of other stuff going on, so doing a book wasn't really anywhere in my mind at that time, but as we started discussing the potential concept I just knew that that was my book. I started working on the proposal, and a couple of days later the agent called and said that the publisher had called her and asked her if she knew me – so it was sort of like other people saw this theme in my work before I did. But as soon as I started developing the idea it just grew and grew, and it all felt exactly right for me, and allowed me to express all the things I really care about when it comes to design.

S- I believe that craft books are often a resource of inspiration more than anything else. Your book is so pretty. Just looking at it makes me want to drink a hot cup of tea and sew. Were most of the photos taken in your home or elsewhere? Did you have a lot of control with the photos?

AP- Thank you again! Yes, almost all of the photos were taken here at our house. A few of them were taken at my friend Sarah's house and garden – the ones that feature her children. But everything else was done here, and I had total control of those images, both technically (for better or worse) and aesthetically – I styled and shot all of the photos myself, including the process shots. It was a huge but exhilarating job – from sourcing the locations and finding the models, to figuring out what everyone was going to wear and what the props would be. It was a bit overwhelming at times, with no one but an occasional husband assisting. But of course, once I'd done it, and had that experience of being able to totally control my vision (for better or worse!) I was hooked, so I'll do that again on my next book. Hopefully this time with a little more help and some different locations, but I am really excited about project photography. At some point, when you're making the items for the book, you realize that no one but you is going to be able to actually hold those items – the photo is really all they have.

And the design of the book – which I had absolutely nothing to do with – was just perfect. I couldn't have been happier with that!

S- What are your biggest sources for inspiration?

AP- Well, it's funny – I get asked this question frequently, and I realize that my inspiration changes but also stays very much the same. I am always inspired by fabric – tiny calicos, reproduction prints, historical motifs. Right now I'm researching folk art, so everything in my mind is red and blue, hearts and flowers, birds and trees. There is so much out there – old things that have been forgotten, but look, to me anyway, as fresh as anything contemporary I know of. I am so excited about reinventing some of these classic motifs. The possibilities inherent in them are really energizing me right now.

S- What are some of your favorite things to make?

AP- Right now, I am making several dolls for Christmas from the pattern on the cover of Stitched in Time. I've made six of them in the last couple of weeks, and every time I make one I am anxious to finish her so that I can see who she is. I like making things like dolls and animals because they have personalities that reveal themselves to you as you stitch.

S- Since the holidays are right around the corner and your house looks all nicely decorated...what is your favorite time of year and why?

AP- I like Christmastime a lot – although the day itself is not my favorite, ironically. I like this season with its sparkles and red details and quiet moments. But I miss snow terribly, so I'm always a bit fraught with longing, which, you know, that's the downside of December. I miss the light reflected off of snow in the front yard – in Oregon is just mud, all brown and gray.

I would have to say my favorite time of year is late spring – before everything begins, when it's all ahead of you. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is like a fairyland. I wait all year to open those bedroom windows and wake up to the sound of birds singing.

S- You were in Seattle this weekend to sign your book at Urban Craft Uprising. It was great to see such a big line of fans for you! What are some of the best parts for you in meeting your fans? Any crazy fans?

AP- Oh my gosh, I love to meet everyone. Sewing and working on books is, for me, a pretty solitary endeavor – I spend a lot of time by myself, in my own little stitching trance, and can go for days without having a conversation with anyone other than Andy, or the puppers, or the blog. So coming out and getting to put faces with names and see peoples' smiles – it's really wonderful. I love it. Everyone is so incredibly nice, and I am just so flattered that anyone is interested in what I do. It never gets old. I've gotta get out more.

S- For those that get distracted in their crafting, what do you think are some of the most important things to do to keep motivated and active?

AP- Well, let's see. I can relate to this a little bit – when I'm working on books, sometimes I sort of lose my spark, and feel like my efforts are uninspired, but I have to keep going (I think) because I'm on a deadline! I don't have the option of taking time off. But honestly, I think that just pushing through when you aren't feeling it is actually the wrong tack – I always try to do something completely different if those feelings start creeping in. Go to the library and get a big stack of books and just look through them. Cook. Take the dog somewhere good. Just take a break for a while, until that motivation starts bubbling up again, and you get an idea, and you can't wait to get home, and . . . You know what I mean. Sometimes you just have to not worry, and wait for it. It always comes back. But sometimes I think you just have to let yourself forget about it all for a while, so inspiration can sneak up on you again. It's a coy mistress.

S- Do you have any news you would like to share with our readers?

AP- Actually, yes! I haven't officially announced it yet, but I am working on my next book, which will be a collection of embroidery patterns – including "regular" embroidery, cross-stitch, and crewelwork. The book is basically a scrapbook of my favorite designs, applied to everyday objects in new, fresh ways. It has a very folksy, historical vibe. It will again be published by Potter Craft, and is due out in Summer 2010. I'm beside myself with excitement about it. My deadline is April 15, so I am working on it like mad.

S- What is your favorite craft supply?

AP- Ooooo, good question. Favorite craft supply. . . . I'd have to say that I'd be absolutely lost without my rotary cutter, ruler, and self-healing cutting mat. And my embroidery hoops. Not original, perhaps, but I use these guys every day, so it's nice to be able to give them props – thanks!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wonder Thunder Interview and Giveaway!

I have only recently had the pleasure of discovering the magic of Wonder Thunder but I am sure glad I did. They are a little bit like magic you know? Leave a comment here with contact info for your chance to win a 2.5" mini plush toast made by the WT team!

PY- How did Wonder Thunder come about?

WT- Wonder Thunder was assembled out of loose scraps, dirty screens, loose morals, and long winter days. We felt the need to fill our already busy days and nights with as much stuff as possible. The rest is history.

PY- Are you from a State that actually has thunder?

WT- Our lives in Tennessee were riddled with thunder storms, something we miss dearly here in the pacific northwest. Tennessee is known for it's sporadic tornado outbreaks, crashing trees, and volatile weather.

PY- You guys have a diverse collection. Who does what in your duo?

WT- We both come up with ideas and the illustrations, we typically draw things by hand then manipulate the drawings on the computer. Sasha screen-prints, Meagan sews. We both do the cutting, ironing, stuffing, embroidering, washing, folding, and cooking.

PY- Do you guys work on Wonder Thunder only or do you have "regular" jobs?

WT- Meagan works as a sculpture fabricator for a local glass artist, Sasha works part time at a couple record companies and does freelance design. Once the Wonder Thunder empire reigns supreme we plan to buy a vintage yacht and world peace.

PY- What is your favorite WT item currently?

WT- We celebrate the entire collection.

PY- What do you expect to be your big holiday seller?

WT- We'd like to sell out of everything. Honestly. Then we can pack up for the equator with empty consciences. We've been making lots of pillows the last couple weeks, it would be great to sell them. They are oh so soft.

PY- What do you guys listen to when you make stuff?

WT- Documentaries from the library, Dr Dog, The Band, Foals, Minus the Bear, Midlake, Murder by Death, Jenny Lewis, Black Moth Super Rainbow, NPR, This American Life, and Meagan plays MIA and Dan Deacon when Sasha's not around.

PY- What are some plans for 2009?

WT- We plan to expand into the pickle market. Seriously. We'll probably keep making different things as they come up.... shower curtains, lamps, paw paw witches, one apron, abridged autobiographies, and some other junk to peddle to the people.

PY- Where can people find your work?

WT- Online at; in Seattle at Blue Bottle, Schmancy(soon!) & 20twenty(also soon!); in Brooklyn at Fact and Fancy; in Columbus, OH at Wholly Craft; in Murfreesboro, TN at Sugaree's; and in Portland, OR at Fontanelle. We'll also have some prints at Giant Robot SF during December.

PY- Funniest selling experience for 2008?

WT- That dog don't hunt. I mean, we don't have one.

Don't forget to enter here for your chance to win this guy!