Giveaway and Q&A: 'Wise Craft' by Blair Stocker

Whether you're an avid crafter, an occasional DIY-er or the queen of half-finished craft projects (raising my hand here), you'll find something to love in Blair Stocker's lovely, practical book, Wise Craft.

In Wise Craft, the Seattle mother of two, who has been crafting creatively since she was a child and blogging for several years, documents in beautiful detail how to turn thrift store finds and natural objects into lovely and useful objects, from aspen branch hooks to easy quilts. 

Stocker e-chatted with ParentMap about her favorite ideas for all kinds of crafters and their kids, and why crafting can bring famlies together. (Scroll down for the Q&A.)

We also giving away two copies of Wise Craft to two lucky winners. Enter below, and read on for Blair's top crafty tips.

How to enter to win a copy of Wise Craft

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This giveaway ends Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 3 p.m., Pacific Time. ParentMap’s ultra-benevolent Giveaway Queen will contact the lucky winner soon after the giveaway ends.

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Q&A with Blair Stocker

What's your crafting history? How did you get started?

I remember making things with my maternal grandmother when I was 4 years old. She taught me knitting, simple sewing, gardening, baking, etc. We filled our days with those simple activities. The sense of accomplishment I got from making things with my hands has never gotten old.

Upon graduation from college with a degree in apparel design, I spent several years in the apparel industry, designing and merchandising both clothing and fabric for companies such Nautica, Marithe and Francois Girbaud, and Burlington Industries. The apparel industry runs at a fanatically fast pace. I worked constantly and loved it, but there was no creative energy for off hours and I didn't make things outside of work for years. When I had my daughter in 1998, I left the workforce to stay home with her. The shift in the momentum of my day initially was a shock, but I soon rediscovered making things again. I jumped in with a passion that I've never lost.

Why is your book called Wise Craft?

I started my blog in 2005. I felt like it needed some kind of name and I just couldn't think of one. My husband is a retail brand consultant and he loves naming things, so I posed the question to him. He threw out Wise Craft because he knew I was inspired creatively by Japanese craft books (which had very little English in them, if any at all). It was a play on the scattered words I saw in those types of books. It also felt intentional. If I was going to be posting projects online, they couldn't be sloppy and poorly made! Whatever the reason, it stuck and came to describe what I do today.

Why the emphasis on thrifting and reuse?

When we decided I would stay at home and care for my daughter full time, it cut our household income in half. That was scary, and I think my mindset shifted to a different way of thinking when it came to making things for our home and doing DIY projects. I realized that well-done, beautiful handmade projects don't have to start with expensive materials. I love reusing fabric from old clothing and pieces I purchase secondhand. I find it very inspiring to be limited to the colors and materials I find secondhand when I'm making a quilt. Too many choices, too many limitless possibilities, and I freeze creatively.

I’m intrigued that you say many of the projects can be done/completed during a family movie night. Can you give a few examples of simple, fun projects that can be transformative?

I'm kind of a nut, I like nothing better after a full day of handmaking in my studio to sit down with my family and, well, handmake some more! I used to be incredibly tempted to snack in front of the TV at night, and having a hand project by the couch that I can pull out and work on keeps my hands busy.

There are several projects in my book that I created just for this type of activity. The hand-sewn flowers that make up the recycled floral mirror (spring section of the book) come together quickly, just a needle, thread and a pair of scissors. The hand-loomed place mats (spring section) are handwoven with strips of denim or other clothing. Once you set up the loom, the weaving is easy and meditative. The Knitted Swatch Blanket (Winter section) can not only be done with one simple knit stitch, it can also be a project shared among friends, each one knitting square swatches to share.

Help – it’s summer and we all have bored kids on our hands. What are 2-3 fun/easy crafts to do that any parent/kid combo can pull off?

*Pinch pots made with baking clay (there is a project in my book called trinket bowls that give a how-to for this). Let the small hands form the bowls, the parent bake, then put out craft paint for the kids to decorate.

*Take them on a walk to collect all kinds of interesting moss, rocks, or other things to create an indoor terrarium (like the forest walk garden bowl project in the fall section of my book).

*Take them thrift shopping! I love seeing what my kids find secondhand. We always bring home stacks of books, and I love being able to say "Yes, I'll get that for you!"

What’s a good craft to interest boys (or girls) who are decidedly NOT interested in crafting?

You must be talking about my son! He really likes the leather-covered rock project in my book (dampened leather formed around smooth rocks).

What are some of your favorite crafting resources and shops, online and local? Where do you get your materials?

I frequent Goodwill and Value Village (I keep a running list of what I want to look for in my purse), as well as Joann's and Michaels for general craft supplies. But as much as I love buying secondhand, I still love new fabric too! For that I go to Drygoods Design in Ballard, they have beautiful fabric and tons of inspiration and classes for those that want to learn. Online, I have favorite searches on ebay and I love supporting the independent sellers on Etsy.

What are the 2-3 craft tools or items everyone should invest in?

- A hot glue gun because it can be useful in a lot of DIY situations.

- A full set of markers in beautiful colors and a blank sketchbook, to draw out your great ideas.

- A good pair of nicely made scissors for fabric (and a separate pair for paper)

Since you’re a local mom, I have to ask: What does your family like to do around Seattle when you’re not crafting?

We are amateur sailors, so we love being at the water around Shilshole. We love walking around downtown Seattle and my kids never get tired of the Pacific Science Center (we were just there the other day).

Motto you parent by?

"Don't borrow trouble." When it comes to my kids, so many things that I find myself starting to worry about solve themselves faster than I can think up a solution.

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