In our "Handmade Conversations" series, we ask amazing people in the craft, food and fashion industries a few questions that provide you with a glimpse into their world. This week's featured person is Jenelle Clark, a quilter, embroiderer and knitter, and the person behind the blog Echinops and Aster.
Jenelle's beautiful work has been featured in numerous blogs, including Quilt Story, Unconventional Katie and Craft Buds. She lives in Seattle with her husband and kitty.
What was the first craft item you made?
As a kid, I was always making elaborate play environments, from dioramas and puppet shows to doll houses and box forts. Lots of times I was raiding my mom's office supplies and fabric stash to find just the right bits of material to create my visions. The very first "official" craft items that I made were counted cross-stitch patterns, usually of over-the-top adorable animals. I made quite a few of those for Girl Scouts to get my sewing merit badges!
What is your craft medium of choice, and why do you like it so much?
For a number of years, I have dabbled in quite a few fabric and fiber-related crafts to make sewn, stitched, embroidered and knit projects. It's actually just been within the last year that I have totally fallen down the rabbit hole into quilting. In many ways I think quilting is the perfect creative outlet for me because it marries my love of print and color with my perfectionist tendencies to want to be precise (live and die by the 1/4-inch seam!). In quilt design I find that my lifelong love of drawing and creating patterns really comes alive and allows me to play with different configurations of color and value to create a beautiful design. I also deeply appreciate the usefulness of quilts, and love that my handmade work can be enjoyed not only visually but also provide warmth and comfort.
Jenelle's local view
My inspiration comes from many sources. I read lots of creative blogs every day, I travel as much as I can and I love spending time in nature. I would have to say that I am probably most influenced though by my daily environment. I feel so incredibly lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest. It's such a naturally spectacular part of the country with such an amazingly vibrant creative community. I am always discovering things in my area that spark new ideas and get me thinking about different ways to approach my crafting and designs.
Jenelle's "Just Wing It (Embroidery 101) Quilt"
I actually just finished a quilt that took me almost a year to make. It was my first bed-sized quilt and really allowed me to gain lots of new skills during the process of making it. I started this project with a group of ladies last summer as part of an online quilt-along. The focus of the QAL was to learn how to embroider while making a quilt of simple blocks, each meant to frame a hand-stitched design. I approached this QAL sort of backwards though. While I had already finished lots of needlework projects, I was completely new to quilting and wanted to find a way to get my feet wet while also bringing my embroidery skills into the project. I ended up designing and hand-stitching each of the 12 unique embroidered blocks in this quilt, while also really taking the time to learn how to cut and piece accurately during the process of making the top. It then took me a little longer after finishing the top to get comfortable with quilting such a large project on my home sewing machine but, in the end, I'm glad I just went ahead and jumped in. It was incredibly rewarding to finally be able to wrap up in the finished quilt and admire all of the handwork that went into making it.
Jenelle's sewing space
I like to sew in the late afternoon into the evening if I can, sometimes with movies and TV shows going on my laptop, and sometimes with podcasts. I find that the amount of time I work on projects fluctuates a lot day-to-day, so maybe I'll sew for several hours one day and then the next day I'll just stitch a few seams and need to put it aside until later.
What is your dream craft project?
Designing and decorating my own home from the ground up.
Describe your personal style in 3 words.
Colorful, eclectic, modern.
In addition to crafting, what other talents do you have?
I am pretty good at spotting wildlife and not too bad at playing classic Nintendo games. :)
What advice would you give to aspiring craft authors, professional crafters and/or designers?
Be authentic to yourself and never lose your innate sense of curiosity. They will serve you well if you ever have a doubt about the direction in which to go.
If you were only allowed to send out one tweet for the rest of this year, what would you say?
I have a Twitter account but I hardly spend any time on it. I mainly use it to let other people know about giveaways that I find for crafting-related things so perhaps, in true Oprah fashion, I would love to Tweet: "AND YOU GET A SEWING MACHINE! AND YOU GET A SEWING MACHINE! EVERYBODY GETS A SEWING MACHINE!!"
One can always dream, right? ;)