What I’m Making: Pottery!

First attempts at pottery - http://kimwerker.com/blog

Back in November, I took a clay workshop and made a mug (which I totally use, much to my continuing satisfaction). A few months later, the same studio held another one-night workshop, this time including some wheel time. Wheel time! OMG.

So I made that lopsided bowl at the top of these photos, using a potter’s wheel for the first time since I was a kid at summer camp. And since there were only two wheels but about ten people in the class, during my non-wheel time I made the other two bowls. The ring bowl now sits on the ledge above my bathroom sink, where I use it every day.

First attempts at pottery - http://kimwerker.com/blog

When I got home after the workshop, I told my husband I’d woken the pottery beast that had been lying dormant in my brain for many, many years. I was ready to go deep. I was ready for a proper, weekly workshop.

Then he surprised me by saying he’s always had a fantasy about pottery, too. I’d had no idea!

Which is how it came to be that next week we’re starting a pottery workshop together.

No, of course we haven’t been dreaming aloud about converting our garage into a pottery studio. That would be insane.

How to Get Started Quilting with Old Clothes: A Maker Concierge Report

The Maker Concierge on How To Make a Quilt from Old Clothing

Quilting is an outstanding way to reuse and upcycle old clothing, and quilters have a long tradition of turning worn-out and stained clothing (or scraps) into warm and beautiful blankets. I, too, love using up every last bit of material that would otherwise end up in the landfill, so I was thrilled when I got this question from Kelly in Washington, DC, in my Maker Concierge inbox.

If you’ve ever wanted to turn a pile of well-loved clothing into a warm and snuggly quilt, here’s how to get started!

Quilting & Clothing Recycling Tutorials and Online Classes

Books & Magazines

Tips & Notes

  • If any of the clothes you’ll be using are knits (like t-shirts or sweats), you’ll need to stabilize that fabric before sewing it. Google for more info on how (or take the Craftsy T-shirt quilt class I mentioned above).
  • I hereby give you permission to buy fabric (even thrifted bedsheets) to fill in gaps or tie together the visual look!

Eye Candy

Alternative

In the Washington, DC, Area

How to Make a Graveyard Themed Terrarium: A Maker Concierge Report

How to Get Started Making a Graveyard-themed Terrarium – The Maker Concierge

Laurie in Lynn, MA, has been dreaming about making a graveyard-themed terrarium. After preparing some advice for her on how to get started, I totally want to make one, too. Here’s a great list of resources for how to get started (many of which could certainly be used to make terrariums that are totally unrelated to graveyards!)

Tips & Notes

It seems like there are a variety of not-terribly-in-depth graveyard-specific terrarium ideas online, but I suggest you start with plain terrarium information and tutorials, and add your own graveyard touches as you desire. Look for products and tutorials that will help you craft your own miniatures, or miniature graveyard.

Terrarium Building Tutorials

Books & Magazines

Eye Candy

Alternative

In the Lynn, MA, Area

Win $1000 for Your Favourite Craft Charity!

Win $1,000 for your favourite craft-focused charity!

As you may know, March is National Craft Month.

As you may also know, one of the major parts of the work I do is as a crochet instructor at Craftsy. Crochet is the craft that got me onto this path toward camp-counseloring-for-grownups, and I love that Craftsy enables me to teach students from all over the world whom I’d never have a chance to encounter without the magic of their platform.

(And to be perfectly frank, my income from Craftsy allows me to do nutty spontaneous things like launch the Maker Concierge on a total whim. So I love it even more!)

This month, for National Craft Month, Craftsy is doing a very cool thing. They’re going to make a $1,000 donation to a craft-focused charity of one lucky student’s choice.

Every person who purchases a Craftsy class between now and March 13th will be entered into the draw to choose the charity.

If you’re new to the whole concept of online craft classes, here’s why I think they’re awesome (and not just as a teacher, but also as someone who loves taking online classes):

  • You get hours of high-quality video instruction you can watch at your own pace, repeat as needed, and refer back to whenever you want.
  • Yes, I most certainly mean you can work through them in your pajamas, on your comfy couch, at any time of day or night.
  • And yes, you have access to the class forever (on some platforms – Craftsy included).
  • At least on Craftsy (not all platforms include this), you also get access to the instructor – you can ask questions anytime, and the teacher will answer you. (This is the part I truly love, because though the videos are awesome, it can still be very hard to know what’s going wrong when you’re stuck on a certain technique and are pulling your hair out.)
  • Downloadable class materials complement the video instruction. In my Craftsy classes, for example, downloads include stitch patterns, diagrams, and reference materials.
  • There’s just a massive variety of classes available. Like, there’s one on the science of bread-making that I just discovered, and I think it might change my life. And there’s one on how to make a t-shirt quilt, and one on how to knit faster, and one on taking great photos with your phonecam.

Perhaps most importantly, online classes enable us to learn pretty much anything we want, even if those things aren’t taught in our own local communities or our schedules don’t allow us to easily attend in-person classes.

As someone whose major schpiel in life is encouraging people to try new creative things, online classes are like magic.

Which is all to say that if you’ve been wanting to learn some new things, signing up for a Craftsy class by March 13th would be a good time to do it, since you’ll get a chance to decide where that $1,000 donation will go. That’s a pretty cool reason to dive in right away, eh?

PS Links to Craftsy classes are affiliate links, and they all include a discounted registration just for you.

PPS I wrote about this in my last newsletter. I don’t usually duplicate newsletters here on the blog, but I want as many people as possible to hear about this event, so here we are. And you should totally get my newsletter. Just sayin’.

How to Get Started Hand Quilting: A Maker Concierge Report

How to Get Started Hand Quilting, by the Maker Concierge

I’ve been wanting to try out hand quilting for a long time, so I was delighted when the first Maker Concierge request came in from Kelly, in Stamford, CT, about exactly that. Since Kelly and I are surely not the only people in the world who dream of hand quilting, here’s a summary of the report I sent her on how to get started.

Hand Quilting Tutorials and Online Classes

Books & Magazines

  • Quiltmaking by Hand: Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts, by Jinny Beyer
  • That Perfect Stitch: The Secrets of Fine Hand Quilting, by Dierdra A. McElroy

Tips & Notes

  • Hand-quilting needles are shorter than regular sewing needles.
  • There’s plenty of discussion about which style(s) of thimbles to use – don’t let it stop you from choosing one and trying it out! If it doesn’t work for you, try another kind.

Eye Candy

Alternative

English paper piecing involves sewing small pieces of fabric together by hand; could be a neat thing to hand-quilt. Here’s a Creativebug class on how to do it.

In the Stamford, CT Area

If the drive isn’t too long, the Connecticut Piecemakers Quilt Guild meets in Trumbull.

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU DREAM OF MAKING? 

3 Ways to Stop Fantasizing and Start Making Your Dream Project

We’ve all gotten caught up in a fantasy about making something, yeah? Maybe it’s a quilt for someone’s wedding, a fancy cake with a unicorn on top, mosaic paving stones for the garden… Whatever it is, this fantasy sits outside the realm of stuff you make and resides firmly in your imagination.

But why? Why do we spend so much time thinking about our fantasy about making the perfect hand-blown glass vase, or a sweater for our best friend’s new baby, but not actually making it?

Scratch that. Who cares about why? Let’s talk about why not.

Why not just make it? I mean, sure, yes, the projects of fantasy aren’t the simple ones you can just make in an afternoon. No. Usually they’re the ones that will require lots of learning, lots of practice, lots of trial and error. They take time.

And here’s the thing about time: it just keeps going. For every day and month we spend fantasizing, what we’re most certainly not doing is putting in the doing of that learning, practicing, trying and trying again.

Let’s change that, eh? Let’s try to take those creative fantasies and yank them into reality.

Three Simple Things to Do to Start Actually Making Your Fantasy Project

1. Do One Small Thing

Emphasis on the do part. You’ve already made a Pinterest board with pretty links. You’ve already put a dozen books on hold at the library. You’ve already started out the window for hours imagining what it’ll be like to make and then have this project. None of these things is doing the project. So start with one small step. Just one tiny act of doing. Maybe it’s washing and ironing the fabric you’ll use. Maybe it’s sketching out a design. Maybe it’s not just watching, but actually following along and doing the steps of an online tutorial. This tiny baby step will be like a giant leap over the line between fantasy and reality. The next steps will be obvious, and way easier to take.

2. Talk About It

Just talk about it. Pluck your fantasy out of the vacuum of your own mind, and toss it out into the open. I’m not talking about making some kind of outrageous public commitment to making your thing; I just mean, like, mention it casually. Saying it out loud makes it real. Far more real than keeping it to yourself. So tell your friends about your fantasy project, even just in passing. Mention it on your blog. Ask your Facebook friends if anyone’s ever made a thing like that. Saying it out loud makes it real. And making it real is the whole point.

3. Sign Up for Something

Maybe it’s a class or a craft-along or an info session at the local arts organization. Whatever it is – sign yourself up. Commit with your money or commit with your word, or both. And then, most importantly, show up. Do not bail. Do not consider this the lowest hanging fruit when life gets nuts and you need to let something go. Making your fantasy into a reality is important. Because it will make you happy. So make a commitment – a small commitment, just for one night, or for a casual craft-along where it’s no big deal if you end up behind their schedule – and then show up. Enjoy video more than reading? I talked about this very thing on Periscope:

3 Ways to Stop Fantasizing and ACTUALLY MAKE your Dream Project.