One of the perks that comes with being the editor of a crafting website is that designers will send their latest projects and publications right to you. When a new book from F+W Media arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to take a peek. The Crafter’s Book of Clever Ideas: Awesome Craft Techniques for Handmade Craft Projects is a quirky collection of family-friendly projects that were created by co-authors Andrea and Cliff Currie.
You might recognize Andrea as a “Craft Wars” champion (and you can read her reflections on the experience here). Her husband, Cliff, is a designer in his own right, and while the main goal of these tutorials is to have fun, you’ll pick up techniques from the pros along the way. I feel extra fortunate that I also got the chance to interview Andrea and Cliff about their crafting styles, sources of inspiration, and more.
What 3 words sum up your crafting style?
Andrea: Fun, Colorful, and Surprising
Cliff: Different, Multi-functional, and Fun
What is your go-to crafting tool?
Andrea: Hot glue gun because it’s equal parts useful and dangerous. Just how I like my men. 😉
Cliff: If I had to craft my way out of a precarious situation using just one tool, I’d pick a good pair of scissors. I can’t think of one project I’ve done that doesn’t involve using scissors. I like having heavy-duty, precision, and fabric scissors nearby me at all times. In fact, I’m pretty sure every drawer in our house has at least one pair of scissors in it!
Andrea, you’re a Craft Wars champion. How has that experience influenced you?
It’s not often you get to test your skills in front of an international audience and a panel of very discerning judges. What I learned is to embrace my kitschy style and to not worry what others might say, even if they are industry leaders! If you can’t sell your vision/style then you won’t ever be able to sell your products. Craft Wars was a crash course in selling my creations and I’m very grateful for the experience.
Cliff, some of your projects in The Crafter’s Book of Clever Ideas call for unusual supplies like Legos and dinosaur figurines. Would you say that the materials inspire your crafts? Or is it the other way around?
I have a little obsession with the 80’s. OK, it’s a big obsession, which I’m sure you’ll pick up on in the book. I enjoy working my childhood toys into fun projects and I’m lucky that the CEO (Andrea) has the same affinity for all things 80’s as I do. So, I suppose you could say the supplies inspire the crafts but it’s mostly a decade that inspires my crafts!
You’re called “America’s Handmade Sweethearts.” What is the best part about working with your spouse? Are there any unique challenges that come with it?
Andrea: Working with Cliff has been a wild ride and I love every thrilling moment of it. I suppose the audience that deemed us “America’s Handmade Sweethearts” never really saw those not so “sweetheart” moments. You know, like when we have creative “differences” and “accidentally” ruin a project by spilling alcohol ink on it. Yeah, those are the moments you realize that working with your spouse was the best decision you ever made.
Cliff: I couldn’t imagine not working with my glittery gal. She is so incredibly talented and driven which really pushes me to the edge of my creativity. We really have a symbiotic relationship. Her weaknesses (engineering and methodically measuring) are my strengths, and my weaknesses (design, color theory, and imagination) are her strengths. So the creations we collaborate on always turn out really amazing because it’s equal parts of both of us.
The Crafter’s Book has a unique his/her format. How did you develop this idea?
Andrea: We had never seen a “he said/she said” style book before and it was something we felt we’d buy if we saw it, so we pitched it and we were lucky enough to have F+W Media pick it up! Plus, let’s be honest: we wanted to battle out our creative differences in a book where the readers get choose who is the supreme crafter in the family, all while enjoying a plethora of fun projects. So far, we don’t have a clear winner but it seems like people lean towards Cliff’s projects slightly more. It pains me to say that, by the way.
Did you collaborate on the projects even if they were distinctly “hers” or “his”?
Cliff: Yes, we collaborated a lot. Well, actually it was more me relying on Andrea to steer me towards projects that were cohesive with hers.
Andrea: Yeah, we really didn’t foresee how hard it was going to be to create complementary yet very different projects but once we got about halfway through the book we found a fun groove, which made the projects flow much easier.
This book has a lighthearted, “just for fun” vibe, but many of the crafts combine fun and functionality–the Miniature Taxidermy Bulletin Boards come to mind. Would you say that making crafts practical is one of your goals?
Andrea: I suppose Cliff’s functional style has really rubbed off on me. When we were first married (9 years ago) I was happy just glittering something and calling it a day but he really pushed me to think out of the box and to find more uses for each project. Nowadays I’m always looking to craft up something fun and functional.
Cliff: I used to always work with wood and metal (very manly materials) and then Andrea sprinkled her sparkle all over the house and eventually our styles collided into a mishmash of practical and whimsical. Oh, and I’m not afraid to say that I LOVE glitter!
Do you ever feel uninspired? How do you break out of “crafter’s block?”
We always get crafter’s block at just the wrong moments, but when that happens we know to step away. Usually we go for a hike or a bike ride. Living in sunny San Diego makes it easy to refresh our brains and bodies at any given moment.
What can we expect from America’s Handmade Sweethearts in the near future?
It’s probably no surprise that we have a billion ideas for future books but we’ve learned to let things come naturally rather than tediously pushing one idea forward. While we let our thoughts simmer we are remodeling our home, which is a large undertaking even though it’s only 1,400 square feet! You should expect to see some pretty amazing transformations on our blog handmakemyday.com and fun craft projects ta boot!
What’s your favorite craft to make with your friends and family?