Marica DeCoster Presents—Now Available!

February 11, 2014, 15:08 pm  Posted by Lark


Marcia DeCoster interviews 30 leading beaders on inspiration and technique

Just published! Beadmaster Marcia DeCoster delivers page after page of inspiration by offering you the personal stories and latest creations from 30 leading jewelry designers in her latest, Marcia DeCoster Presents.


Through interviews conducted by Marcia, these artists open up about their beginnings, their successes, their muses and influences, their favorite materials, their membership in the worldwide beading community, and their future beading dreams.


In addition to the insight and innovation present in these discussions, this volume is filled with gorgeous color photos that showcase a number of the most beautiful pieces from each contributor.


The artists in this book represent an international roster of the best in the field:

Daeng Weaver, Miriam Shimon, Patrick Duggan, Kerrie Slade, Melissa Ingram, Beki Haley, Betty Stephan, Sian Nolan, Debi Keir-Nicholson, Nancy Dale, Martina Nagele, Helena Tan-Lim, Heather Kingsley-Heath, Elke Leonhardt-Rath, Riana Bootha Olckers, Cynthia Newcomer Daniel, Isabella Lam, Petra Tismer, Marsha Wiest-Hines, Christina Vandervlist, Linda L. Jones, Gabriella van Diepen, Idele Gilbert, Kinga Nichols, Susan Blessinger, Ann Braginsky, Heather Collin, Patrizia Tager, Zoya Gutina, Edgar Lopez
























And don’t forget the best-selling companion book in this Spotlight on Beading series, Suzanne Golden Presents


Interview with Paper Blooms Author Jeffery Rudell

April 26, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark

We are thrilled with the publication of our new book Paper Blooms. As you may have seen in our recent Inside Peek post, it is overflowing with creative and beautiful ideas for transforming paper into gorgeous floral designs. I recently had the opportunity to interview author, Jeffery Rudell, about his experiences on the book.

Q: When did you start working with paper, and paper flowers in particular? What attracted you to the craft?

A: I have been working with paper since 1970 when, as a second grader, I made myself a typewriter (I’d asked Santa for a real typewriter but he decided winter boots were a more suitable gift). The thing was made from an egg carton, a paper towel tube, some cardboard and a manilla file folder. I’ve been hooked ever since. Professionally, I’ve been designing paper props and window displays for the past fourteen years. Paper flowers grew out of a project I did with Tiffany & Company back in 2004. Flowers come in an inexhaustible range of shapes and colors so I never run out of things to make. Best of all, making them is fun and sharing them with others never fails to bring a smile to the face of whomever receives them.

Q: How did you go about designing the flowers in Paper Blooms?

A: I designed these flowers much the same way as I design most of my work, I sat down with a stack of paper, a pair of scissors, and a glue gun, and I started experimenting with different ways I could achieve the shapes and textures I needed in order to capture the look and feel of real-world flowers. With a book of this sort, the designs needed to not only look like actual flowers but they also had to be easy to make. It was a process of trial and error…and I made a lot of errors. A few times I went so far as to take actual flowers — Daffodils are one example — and take them apart, petal by petal, leaf by leaf, using an X-acto knife and studied the way they were made.

Q: How difficult are the flowers in Paper Blooms to make?

A: My editor and I worked hard to make sure that all of the flowers were quite easy to make. The book begins with some very beautiful flowers that are super simple to make. The second section of the book takes advantage of simple circle and star-shaped paper punches that are readily available at craft stores. The final section of the book builds on the skills covered earlier in the book and while these projects can be a little more time-consuming, they still are not difficult to make. If a person can use a scissors, a craft knife, and a hot glue gun, they have all the necessary skills to make every one of the projects. As with most crafts, readers really need only two things: a little patience and a willingness to make a mistake or two along the way.

Q: Do you have any tips for beginners who have never made paper flowers before?

A: When it comes to most craft projects I find that beginners often worry about doing things “the right way.” However, when it comes to flowers, the key ingredient for making your flowers look real is to avoid perfection. Real flowers are crooked; their leaves are often bent in odd places; their petals are sometimes droopy. I always encourage beginners to celebrate any imperfections they happen to create since these will ultimately make their flowers look more like the real thing. Oh, and remember, flower stems are rarely perfectly straight; a curved or arching stem is the fastest way to add life to a paper flower.

Q: I know it’s hard to pick among so many beautiful options, but are there any flowers in Paper Blooms that stand out as personal favorites? Why?

A: Picking a favorite is nearly impossible since I’m in love with them all. However, I remember when we were making the book, I was working with a photographer who was taking a picture of a bouquet of carnations I’d made. He was arranging them in front of the camera and as he was doing so he bent down to inhale their scent. Everyone in the room just stopped what they were doing and looked at him for a moment. When he realized what he’d done he let out a laugh, a little embarrassed I think, and said, “They look so real I forgot that they were paper.” I will always treasure that moment.

Q: Where would you like to take your paper art and career now that your book has been published?

A: While I was writing Paper Blooms I had to set aside a long list of other projects and ideas. Now that the book has been published, I’ve gone back to my sketchbooks and begun working on some of those ideas that I’ve had on hold. I’m very excited by what I’m doing but I’ll have to wait and see where this work takes me. Maybe there will be another craft book in my future but for now, I’m just enjoying the process of taking a sheet of paper and seeing what I can turn it into.

Author photo credit: Virginia Sherwood


Exciting News from The Makery: Artful E-Commerce in NC

September 18, 2012, 16:22 pm  Posted by Lark

Do you remember last spring when we shared an interview with the fantastic sister trio of The Makery? (Of course you remember them—they’re creative, whip-smart, talented, and all about handmade entrepreneurialism.)

photo of the Sister Team of The Makery

Well: their Kickstarter Campaign for a sales website supporting art and crafts in North Carolina was a success! The new site, aptly named The Makery, is about to launch, and we’re excited for their great news.

Let’s hear from them about upcoming enthusiasm for The Makery, first sales on their e-commerce site, and their “smoffice” success.

(Interview questions answered by Krista Anne of the Sister Team)


The Makery Logo

Since the beginning of your business plan, has the mission, shape, or message of The Makery evolved in any way? Will you remind happy readers about the current ambitions of The Makery?

Certainly! The Makery is helping people buy local and handmade, by hosting online flash sales on artisan goods every week. We’re a new platform for artists and customers to connect, discover, and engage in community supported commerce. The items we feature are a curated selection of the best NC craft; we’re excited about the art, apparel, accessories and homeware people are making right here at home.

There have been some small tweaks and changes as we figure out how to do this right, but the biggest lesson we’ve learned since starting out is how hard craftspeople are working. We’d like to recognize them not only has talented artists, but incredible entrepreneurs that have to wear so many hats to run their businesses. Seeing this makes us even more excited to do what we can to help them connect with new customers.

It also makes us passionate about educating up and comers, and creating a community around the craft movement. It can be a lonely profession, sometimes!


How does the Makery site operate? Do you have to register or become a member? How does buying and selling art/crafts on the site work?

Each week, we will feature four or more cool, local, and handmade items on the site. There will be a limited run of each item, and they will only be available for 48 hours. An email will go out alerting members when the sale goes live. And another great thing about the email – every week it will contain a coupon code so you can get a discount on whatever you want to buy!

Right now, you have to request an invitation to become a member. Once you’re ‘in,’ you receive our emails and gain access to the site.


The first sale is scheduled for September 25th (hooray!)—can you tell us what that means? Can people explore the site or become involved with The Makery before the 25th?

We will be going live with our first artists, sales, and emails on that date. Right now, you can go to www.themakeryproject.com to request an invitation, share the site with friends, and make sure you don’t miss out on our launch! And of course, be our friend on social media so we can keep you updated on the goings-on of The Makery.


You have emphasized the concept of “local” in the past, as well as in our previous fun interview with you. I’m curious: what has your experience been like blending the concept of “local” with the concept of “e-commerce”?

There is so much power in emerging technological trends. Sometimes it feels like the internet tide is going to wash us all away! But I think we’re called to see the ways in which it can advance the good things we believe in. For me and my sisters, it’s connecting our state with handmade goodness. Being an online business allows us to connect and communicate with people outside our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, and reach a broader community that shares the same passions that we do. It also allows anyone to discover the things they want, regardless of mobility, time, or handmade shopping savvy.


How do you think The Makery benefits artists? Where should NC folks go to learn more about becoming involved with The Makery?

Selling on The Makery has very little front end investment for artists. There are no application fees, and you don’t have to have a huge stock in advance. All you need are some great pictures of your item, a design that is replicable , and the ability to sell wholesale.

We also get to highlight the artist with photos and a biography, so people can get to know the story behind the work. We hope it takes some of the ‘selling’ out of making. We will keep improving the artist side of The Makery as we gain feedback on what they want and need from us.

We’re always on the lookout for artists, they can reach us at ArtistLOVE@themakeryproject.com


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Mod Podge Rocks! Interview with Amy Anderson

June 11, 2012, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark

We are so excited about the publication of our new book Mod Podge Rocks! Want to know more about the book? Check out our previous post highlighting some of the many rave reviews it’s been receiving from the blogosphere.

One of the elements that people love so much about the book is the author, popular blogger and craft personality Amy Anderson. I took some time recently to ask Amy some questions about her experience with Mod Podge, blogging, and authoring the book. You can read her responses below. Be sure to check back here for more great Mod Podge Rocks! posts–including free projects and a huge giveaway–in coming weeks.

Q: How long have you been crafting with Mod Podge?

A: “About five years now. I got the crash course by my friends in the PLAID design studio, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My first project was a disaster, but that didn’t stop me. I was determined to master the glue that everyone seemed to love so much. Now that I’m addicted, I totally know why they do!”

Q: Out of all the Mod Podge products do you have a favorite? What is your favorite from the new line of products launched this month?

A: “I love the Hard Coat formula the best, because I love using Mod Podge on furniture. It’s so satisfying to re-do a large item and make it look new again. Wait a second – it’s a tie between that and Dimensional Magic. My favorite from the new line of products is the Glitter Dimensional Magic. I’m so excited to make awesome jewelry. I will pimp out the glitter Dimensional Magic, especially during holiday time!”

Q: What is your favorite project in the book?

A: “That is tough, but I really love the children’s artwork bracelet by Candie Cooper. Children’s artwork is so special and that bracelet is such a great gift.”

Q: Do you have any advice for other bloggers out there considering taking the blog to book leap?

A: “Be ready to work hard! Doing a book is time consuming AND creatively consuming. But the end is well worth it. You just have to anticipate that you will be putting everything you have into the book for awhile, but there will be a huge reward at the end!”

Q: It’s clear from the initial coverage of the book that you are very well connected and beloved in the blogging community. What can you say about the influence on blogging in your own life?

A: “My life has completely changed because of blogging, both personally and professionally. Some of my best friends are bloggers, and we met online. I’m also working as a blogger and freelance writer full time now. I NEVER thought this would be my life. After I got my MBA, I expected to be working at a desk for the rest of my life. I know that I am meant to be doing this, and I am happy. It’s a great feeling.”

Keep up with Amy Anderson and her passion for all things Mod Podge on her blog Mod Podge Rocks!


The Makery: Connecting NC Artists

March 21, 2012, 12:32 pm  Posted by Lark

At Lark Crafts, we’re pretty big fans of all things handmade, as well as the concept of handmade: something made by hand with a unique and heartfelt purpose. (We’re also located in the heart of downtown Asheville, North Carolina: a spot of beauty if ever there was one.) So it was really exciting to learn about The Makery, the craft business brainchild of sisters Sarah Rose, Brita, and Krista Nordgren, and its aim to connect North Carolina artists and art-lovers online and in the real world.

I had the privilege of chatting with Sarah Rose about The Makery, its mission, and the Kickstarter campaign designed to support it. I hope you enjoy hearing about these awesome gals and their very cool endeavors as much as I did, and make sure you check them out on their blog, website, Facebook, and Twitter! The Makery’s Kickstarter campaign runs through March 31st, and you can learn much more about it from Sarah Rose below.


The Makery logo

You’ve described your start-up as “The Makery: a sales website for art and crafts in North Carolina.” Can you describe this a bit more—maybe delve into the nuts and bolts, as well as the heart and soul of The Makery?

Of course! I’ll start with the heart and soul. The Makery is built on a passion for art and the creative spirit. We love the idea that people all over the state are pouring their talent and passion into making things with their hands. North Carolina has a great history of art and handcraft – from the textile and furniture industries to the famous Seagrove pottery – and we’re now seeing a resurgence of interest in high-quality handmade objects as people become disillusioned with mass-produced culture. It’s really a nationwide (and international!) movement, but we’re focusing on North Carolina because it’s our home state and the place to which we feel most connected.

As far as nuts and bolts are concerned, The Makery will combine e-commerce with buying local. The setup will be similar to sites like Fab.com or Groupon: people who are members of The Makery will have access to weekly deals on carefully selected items by that week’s three featured artists. We hope to become a trusted venue where buyers can purchase beautiful and unique items at a reduced price and be exposed to new artists that they may not have seen before, and where the featured artists will gain exposure and new fans.


Who are the people behind the wheel and in the engine room of the Makery, and how did you decide to work together on this project?

The people behind The Makery are me and my two sisters, Brita and Krista. I think we’ve all dreamed for years about having some big project that would bring the three of us together with our interests and passions, and it seems that we’ve finally found it! It started as a loose concept that has gradually built momentum over the past months, and we’re really excited about the direction things are taking.

Nordgren Sisters - The Makery

Brita, Krista, and Sarah Rose Nordgren

So you’re sisters! How cool is that. What is it about working together both creatively and as entrepreneurs that inspires and challenges you?

So far it’s been amazing to see how naturally we’ve been able to utilize each of our unique strengths and support each other to get things done. Brita is the real artist of the three of us. She is an amazing designer and papercut artist with backgrounds in art history and furniture design, so she provides a lot of our aesthetic direction. Krista is the natural entrepreneur and a major source of positive energy for the group, as well as being a good writer. Like our father (who’s a longtime entrepreneur and teaches creative entrepreneurship at Duke), Krista gets a contagious excitement about new ideas. For my part, I’m a writer (actually a poet), and I also have experience as a publicist, so I can bring those skills. I think I also keep the group focused since I’m very organized.

Our biggest challenge so far has been getting things done long-distance. We all live in different places right now so we have all our meetings via Skype! This summer we’re hoping to spend more time with the three of us in person, which will be nice.


The Makery is all about artists, crafters, and artisans in North Carolina, as well as the foundation of buying local. How does the concept of “local” resonate with you? What do you hope this focus brings to the makers and buyers who support The Makery?

The local focus is really what makes The Makery special. Even though we will be an online platform, our hope is that the connections we make between artists and art-lovers online will translate into real-world relationships – fellow artists connecting with each other to share ideas and resources, and people supporting makers at craft fairs and gallery openings, for example. When you purchase an item from The Makery, whether it’s for yourself or as a gift for Christmas or a baby shower, etc., you’ll not only be getting an awesome and unique product, but also one that was lovingly handmade by one of your own NC neighbors. Everybody wins!


Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign—what is your goal? How will the campaign make The Makery happen? What do we need to know in order to get involved and pledge to the campaign?

We’re very excited to be on Kickstarter (check out the cool video that Brita put together!), and we have our fingers crossed that we reach our funding goal by the March 31 deadline. The way Kickstarter works is that if you don’t get all of your funding in time you come away with nothing, so it’s really important that we raise the money we need in the next few days! Our funding goal is $4,450, which will cover most of our basic operations for our first year. For example, we need a fully functional online shop and email service, shipping supplies and stationary, and the legal fee for forming an LLC. For a new business our overhead is very low, but without the money we won’t be able to get our shop running. Right now we’re at about 40% of our goal with 10 days left, so we need more backers in order to succeed.

Take a moment to visit our Kickstarter page for more information and check out our video and the great rewards we’re offering to backers (like screen-printed tote bags and mix CDs of our favorite local bands). Every pledge, big or small, makes a difference! If you like what we’re doing, tell your craft-loving friends, family, and co-workers! We’d love your help spreading the word.


If you wrote an indie love song to the Makery, what would you write in the chorus? You know, the part of the song that people hear on their alarm when they wake up in the morning and then hum all day long.

Their hands made you, spun you,

hung you, painted you,

hammered and cut you,

stitched and taped you,

shaped you into my NC heart!


Thanks so much, Sarah Rose + Brita + Krista. We wish you great success in your vision for The Makery!

To learn more about Sarah Rose, Brita, Krista, and their endeavors with creating The Makery, find them here:

The Makery Kickstarter Campaignhttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1077765545/the-makery
The Makery Bloghttp://makeitnc.wordpress.com/
On Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/TheMakeryNC
On Twitterhttps://twitter.com/#!/TheMakeryNC


Quilled Flowers: An Interview with Alli Bartkowski

March 20, 2012, 13:56 pm  Posted by Lark

book cover for Quilled FlowersToday is the first day of spring, and what better way to celebrate this beautiful, colorful, fresh season than with a glimpse into the creative life of Alli Bartkowski, author of Quilled Flowers: A Garden of 35 Paper Projects. Alli is the founder and owner of Quilled Creations, the world’s leading provider of paper quilling supplies, and she’s an accredited member of the North American Quilling Guild.

With how-to photos, step-by-step instructions, and templates for every project, Quilled Flowers is filled with a gorgeous array of blooms including a Peony Bouquet, Zinnia Gift Bows, a Ranunculus Hair Comb, Pretty Potted Violets, flowered cards, stand-alone blossoms, and inspiration for weddings, gifts, and décor of all styles. Join Alli as she shares a fresh take on paper quilling through her own original designs and techniques, and celebrate spring by creating your own garden of paper flowers!


How would you describe the book Quilled Flowers to someone who hasn’t yet read it?

Alli: Quilled Flowers is book that will inspire you to learn how to quill! It’s full of projects and techniques for the beginner to the very experienced crafter. Quilling is often seen flat and in two-dimensions for cards or in frames. But for this book I wanted to also bring the beauty of quilling to life in three-dimensions through flowers that can be placed as a centerpiece on your kitchen table.


quilled paper foxglove flower from Quilled FlowersWhat were some of your favorite experiences while writing the manuscript and creating all the flowers?

Alli: My family and friends’ feedback was my favorite experience. Many of them would ask me to create their favorite flower for the book. They inspired me to try making flowers that I’ve never created with quilled shapes. So when I see those projects in my book, I think of them. For example, my younger daughter fell in love with foxgloves. So for that framed project, I added two little bees to remind me of her and her sister.


Do you have a favorite project among this garden of beautiful paper creations?

Alli: My favorite project would be the ranunculus or peonies. I made so many of these spiral cut flowers with different edges, shapes, sizes and colors. I was determined to perfect this technique because I could see the potential in this idea. There’s also nothing like using your hands to really crinkle, mold, and shape paper into something so beautiful! When I show my students this technique, they usually gasp when I tell them to crush the spiral in their hands! But it really works! Our hands can be the best tools!


quilled paper ranunculus flower from Quilled FlowersIn the introduction, you talk about portability being one of the best parts of paper quilling. Where are some of the interesting places you’ve found yourself working on quilled projects?

Alli: When I travel on the airplane, I like to take my quilling along. I also love quilling on long car rides with my husband driving (of course). It helps me from getting carsick! But the most interesting place would be where my friend ended up bringing her quilling. While in labor, she took her quilling to the hospital to pass time between contractions. Let’s just say she was able to introduce quilling to many nurses and doctors there!


In the book, you describe the first time quilling caught your attention and how it inspired you to begin experimenting and designing on your own. What is it about the art of rolling and shaping strips of paper that you think speaks to you as an artist?

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Interview with Nina Wanat, author of Sweet Confections

November 17, 2011, 08:56 am  Posted by Lark

It’s that time of year, friends: fall is growing cooler, winter will soon be here, the holidays are upon us, and our thoughts turn to the delicious traditions of making, sharing, and enjoying food together. This is the time of year when we think about the gifts and treats we’ll make for one another (and hey, maybe even for ourselves), as well as the treats we look forward to receiving.

It’s a time of year for sweets—luscious, dreamy caramels; rich, decadent fudge; crispy, fragrant peanut brittle; billowy coconut nougat; light-as-air meringues; and even the savory side of mixed roasted nuts. Nina Wanat’s book, “Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home,” celebrates the art of making these treats at home, right in your own kitchen, where you can taste-test share these gifts with loved ones near and far.

I was privileged to be the editor working with Nina on this book, and it was a sheer delight getting to know her (and learning about the delectable craft of candymaking). I thought it might be nice to sit down with her and learn a bit about the life of a chocolatier/author. Enjoy!


How would you describe the book “Sweet Confections” to someone who hasn’t yet read it?

Nina :: “Sweet Confections” is a candymaking cookbook that novices should find accessible and experts should find interesting.  If you’ve never made candy before, you’ll be able to do it correctly following the instructions, and if you have experience, you’ll appreciate the variations and ways that the recipes incorporate different flavors.

There are recipes for traditional favorites, such as toffee and chocolate fudge, that I tried to refine for contemporary palates – to make them more flavorful, and less sweet – as well as other candies, such as strawberry-lemonade marshmallows and pecan pie taffy, that are a bit more eclectic.

Nina Wanat, author of 'Sweet Confections'

You mention in the book’s introduction that making candy makes a person feel “like a kid with keys to a candy store.” How has that feeling developed for you throughout your candymaking career?

Nina :: When I started culinary school 6 years ago, I had never made candy before – and I wasn’t sure whether having been in a lot of candy stores would translate well into being able to make it! Peanut butter fudge was the first recipe assigned to me in confectionary class. I was a wreck throughout the process because I was worried that I was doing something wrong (and thinking “does that look right? I don’t know, maybe not…”), but then it was finally done and I cautiously tasted it. And it was amazing!  I felt exhilarated by that peanut butter fudge, and it gave me the confidence to try more recipes, and worry a bit less.

Once I realized that I could make candy, I felt a wonderful sense of freedom to start making candy exactly how I liked it.  My extra-curricular experiments started out at home, usually from a craving or a curiosity about a technique, and those recipes became the foundation for the handmade candy bar company that I founded in 2007.  It’s a wonderful accomplishment to be able to make something exactly suited to your tastes, and to have others enjoy it, too.

What is it about making candy that fits with your personality and entrepreneurial spirit? Do you think the act of making candy is suited to a certain type of creativity or persona?

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Interview: Jodi Rhoden, Author of Cake Ladies

October 11, 2011, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark

I recently had the opportunity to ask Jodi Rhoden, author of our new book Cake Ladies, a few questions I’ve been wanting to ask since working with her on the project. Her charming and informative answers follow. Want to know more about the book? Just click here to read my earlier post.

Q: When did you really first think there was a book in documenting the cake lady tradition?

A: Well, when you own a food business, everybody always asks you when you are going to put out a cookbook. So that got the idea in my mind, years ago, of doing a book. But I knew that my interest in writing, and people, was too
strong to do a book solely of my own recipes. I would want to share the whole culture of being a cake lady. My mother would tell me stories about the cake lady in her hometown, and other cake ladies she had known, and I really identified with that. So it was really a few years into having my cake business, when people began to think of me as a cake lady, that the idea for the book took shape.

Q: How long have you been interested in Southern food culture, and why?

It’s just what I’ve known. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, but my grandparents were farmers, and their communities (in Monroe, GA, and Tallahassee, FL) were very traditional southern towns. I learned to cook Southern food from my mother as a part of my life- helping her make dinner every night and bake for celebrations. I could make a killer chicken fried steak with gravy from the time I was 10. Sunday dinners in Monroe were from the food my grandfather grew: lima beans and sweet potatoes and fresh tomatoes and onions. And in Tallahassee, it was very obvious that food was the currency of love: when someone wanted to appreciate you, they would bake you a cake, usually a pound cake. But it wasn’t until I was in college, and had become involved in the community gardening movement, that I began to make the connections between the food I had grown up eating and cooking, and the food that I was growing in my own backyard, and the stories that go along with them. It was the first time that I came to see Southern food as Southern food and not just “food.”   

Q: Can you pinpoint a couple of the most valuable lessons you have learned in the process of meeting the women featured in the book?

A: I really keep coming back to this experience of MEANING, that food has a symbolic value beyond sustenance. I saw that for many of the women, baking cakes held the meaning of expressing love, but for many of them also, and no less importantly, it was a means of economic self-sufficiency and empowerment. That was so inspiring to me. And I learned that everybody has a remarkable story to tell, if only we will listen.

Q: How would you encourage people reading this to get engaged in their own cake lady culture?

A: That’s a wonderful question. Because I do think that many people are searching for meaning beyond “store-bought” culture, and store-bought food. I think it’s really important to remember that we each have a history, and everybody comes from somewhere. So I would really encourage folks to talk to their elders. It doesn’t matter if your grandmother doesn’t bake, or only uses box mixes. Or if you aren’t in touch with your own elders, talk to a neighbor. Talk to her, and find out what food has meaning to her, and start there. Perhaps you will learn about some great, crafty trick to
making a meal or making a cake.  Or perhaps you will learn something about HER childhood, her history, and the food she remembers. I think the important thing is that something doesn’t have to be far away and exotic to be interesting. You can start right where you are, with what you have on hand, that’s the true meaning of cooking from scratch.

Q: I know it’s nearly impossible to choose, but do you have a favorite cake recipe in the book, and why?

A: I think my favorite has to be the 10 layer chocolate cake, for a few reasons: for one, it’s so simple, but so elaborate. The recipe is simple, but you make all these layers just, really, for dramatic effect. And also I love that it’s baked all over the South, and everybody has a different name for it. Folks in New Orleans swear by their Douberge cake, but if you are in Virginia, it has a different name (Smith Island Cake), and if you are down east Carolina, it has another name (10 layer Chocolate Cake). And I love Miss Pearl. But I love all the cake ladies, and all their cakes, I’m so appreciative of their love and care.

Jodi Rhoden is a mother, writer, baker, and community food activist. She is the owner of Short Street Cakes, a popular bakery specializing in natural, scratch-made, traditional Southern cakes and cupcakes. Jodi serves as a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and is a board member of the Bountiful Cities Project, a grassroots urban agriculture organization. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her family, and she chronicles her life as a baker, mom, and foodie at her blog.


An Interview with Ceramicist, Susan Halls

August 22, 2011, 09:00 am  Posted by Lark


Referring to the ease of the techniques featured in her newly released book, Ceramics for Beginners: Animals & Figures, author Susan Halls states, “…the leather-hard slab projects are more akin to cutting and joining cardboard. If you’ve ever rolled a “snake” out of clay, then you’re halfway to mastering coiling. And children and adults alike can interpret the simple pinch pot method.” These methods, pinching, coiling, slab work, and making soft tubes, are used individually and collectively to create the 12 wonderful pieces featured in her book. Sculptures range from an endearing pig and a whimsical dog to a dapper wedding party.

In between teaching workshops, completing commission work, and tending her seemingly always-in-use kiln, Susan kindly found time to answer a few questions.

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Transform The Common T-Shirt with 101 Tees!

August 06, 2011, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark

Just browse the offerings in your favorite clothing catalog or trendy boutique, and you’ll see that embellished t-shirts are all the rage. But they sure can be  expensive, right? Well, why not embellish your own when an ordinary t-shirt and supplies can cost as little as a few bucks? 101 Tees is a fun, idea-packed book, authored by crafting dynamo Cathie Filian, that offers up clever ways to easily and inexpensively transformed the common tee into stylish apparel.

With 10 different technique-themed chapters, each with approximately 10 projects and their own mini basics section, there’s truly something for everyone. Experiment with creative cutting and stitching, embroidery, painting, dyeing, image transfer, and adding rhinestones, ribbons, and trim. The projects include a variety of t-shirt style bases, from the ordinary crew neck to long-sleeved, cap-sleeved, and sleeveless versions. And, yes, there’s even a full chapter of offerings for guys!

Such a great crafting resource for yourself or a crafty fashionista friend.

In the interest of giving you all a little behind-the-scenes details on the book, I asked Cathie a few questions about her experience working on the project. Be sure to come back here later in the month, as we’ll be hosting a truly fabulous 101 Tees giveaway in a couple weeks.

Q: Why do you think the common t-shirt serves as such a great creative canvas?

A: The material! Cotton….you can dye it, stretch it, paint it, heat it, pierce it, tear it, stitch it and you don’t have to hem it, if you don’t want to. I also love the form a tee takes on the body. The shoulders, hemlines, sleeves, yokes and centers are just begging to be embellished.


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