Bead Bugs Interview + Giveaway!

In 2011 Amy Kopperude started 365 Spiders, a yearlong daily project in which she committed to create a beaded spider every day. Then suddenly her project stopped, but for the best reason possible... she got a book deal! Now that her book Bead Bugs has come out, Amy agreed to share some insights into the process of making it (and give one away to a lucky reader!)...

How did this book come about?  I love the story of how my book came about because I know that if “X” hadn’t happened, then “Y” would not have. In 2010, I had a fall open house with friends to sell some of our handmade things, including a handful of beaded spider and dragonfly pins that I had just figured out how to make two months earlier. A friend of a friend (who is now a very good friend of mine) saw my spider pins and was ecstatic over one made with a skull bead.

Over the next couple of months, Susan urged me to participate in local art events, and in December she asked if any of her friends would be interested in participating in a daily creativity project. She offered to buy participants Noah’s book 365: A Daily Creativity Journal so we could follow the prompts. I was immediately on board. On January 1, I began following the prompts but decided I wasn’t simplifying my daily project enough and knew I would bail on this creative journey if I kept making things so complex. So I switched gears and decided to just make a spider every day for a year. I started a blog for my 365 spiders and set off with some crazy ideas. In late August of 2011, I received an e-mail from an acquisitions editor at a Minneapolis publisher explaining that she had seen my beaded spiders on my blog and also a couple of dragonfly pins that I had in my Etsy shop and thought they were fantastic. She asked if I would be willing to write a DIY craft book of beaded bug projects. I couldn’t say no.

What was the process of creating the book like?  Creating 25 different bugs and turning them into something useable (like jewelry or a hair accessory) was a lot more complex and detailed than working on my daily project. I had just over 4 months to write my book between the time I mailed the signed contract to my publisher and the final deadline. The process of brainstorming 25 bugs was one of the most difficult things initially because not every bug seemed like it could be made with beads. Surely I had great bug ideas, but I just couldn’t figure out how to construct them. In addition to conceptualizing each bug, I had to make room in a schedule to buy the beads I would need, experiment with making the bug, make the bug while photographing each step, write the instructions, and keep a log of all of the photos for the publisher. The log had to include a chronological number label for each photo, what section the photo belonged in, a brief description of the step appearing in the photo, and a category for the type of image. When all was said and done, I had submitted 455 photos for the book. Writing Bead Bugs was an exhaustingly detailed and organized process. It was nothing like setting aside a half hour or hour of my time each day just to think about and make a themed spider, but it was worth every minute.

What lessons did you learn in the process of making the book? One lesson is this—do something right the first time so you don’t have to do it over. You can’t take shortcuts when you’re dealing with intricate work that requires precision. Because I also took all of the photographs of each step for each project, I was careful to take more than one shot of every step not only so that I would have a choice between which photo best exemplified the step but to ensure that I wouldn’t have to start from the beginning and recreate a project if there appeared to be a gap in the steps.  It also helped to make a bug twice and photograph the steps for the second bug. Most of the time, the first round is experimental and can use some tweaking.

Overall, I learned to cut myself a break. It’s pretty impossible to take on a day job, write a craft book, and finish a daily creativity project all at once, especially when you stir other factors into the mix like family and unpredictable life challenges. As much as I have the ability to work under pressure and juggle several projects at once, it’s just not always healthy to do so. If I lose sight of why I’m doing something, I’m not putting my best foot forward OR having fun.

What advice would you give someone considering taking on his/her own daily project? Simplify! If you don’t simplify, expect to sacrifice more than you bargained for.  Daily creativity projects are meant to be fun. You’re meant to discover something about yourself and your creative process. Why else would you commit to the endeavor? Also, share the joy of creating with others. Support others who are making something every day. Be part of something THAT BIG so that when you finish your project, you are inspired and filled with a deep satisfaction.

What advice would you give someone interested in having his/her creative project become a book? Put yourself out there. If you are consistent about sharing your work and make yourself present through online networks like Facebook, Twitter, and a personal blog or web site, then you will start to gain a following and you just never know who will end up seeing your work. I also think that there has to be something unique and thematic about what you make or do. Focus on that thing you do that no one else is doing, and run with it.

Now What? Another book. I don’t know what yet, but that’s my plan. Whenever I have an idea for something, I add it to the Notes section on my phone so I don’t forget. Later, I categorize my ideas. My plan is to have enough good ideas in one category at some point to pitch another craft book. I have always been passionate about making things and experimenting with materials. Whether there’s another book in my future or I just stay up until midnight in my kitchen working on a project I love, I’m happy either way.

The contest is over! The winner will be contacted directly. Thanks to everyone who entered.
Amy and her publisher have kindly offered to giveaway a copy of her new book Bead Bugs to one lucky Make Something 365 reader! To be entered to win, just post a comment below with the name of your favorite bug (be sure to include an email address so you can be notified if you win!). You have til midnight January 3, 2013 to enter and then a winner will be selected randomly from all eligible entries.

p.s. Read my original interview with Amy about her 365 Spiders project HERE.

Wenchkin's 366 Mail Art Follow-Up

Carolyn Curtis AKA Wenchkin made 366 pieces of mail art over the past year, wrapping up on December 18th...

What are the biggest lessons/skills you learned from doing your project? Collage - oddly I had not dabbled with it since high school. It is funny since I have since gotten others into mail art who said "you must be really fast at this now". Not really unless I already have a vision in mind. I do make a better, cleaner, nicer card however than I did at the beginning and I have a solid feel for collage now.

In what ways did the project change your life? Mail art is up the beholder. When I first started I asked what mail art is and I was simply told - you make art and mail it, there are no rules. Working completely unhindered of any art rules is interesting. One of the few projects I have ever done I was completely free in.

What now? Stalk Noah more, kidding. I am taking a day or two off and launching directly into another 365 project. Up next will be what I should have done to begin with, calaca a day where I will do small 4x6 black and white illustrations of people as sugar skulls.

See all of Carolyn's mail art HERE.

For more from Carolyn follow her on Google+ and be sure to check out her store and blog.

365 Days of Inspiration

Kym Gamble in Lansdale, PA is creating 365 Days of Inspiration. She explains, "I am using Photography as my main medium and the Inspiration are things that either take my breath away, make me stop and take a second look, fill me with excitement or something along that line.  I am a writer, artist, musician and these things can be used to further other projects, as well as, sooth my soul."

Why did you decide to do this project? I decided to do this project because I have been stuck in most of my endeavors.  I have needed a boost to help me to connect with my creative spirit.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? Although I've only been working on this for 7 days, I have found having a project that I am committed to doing something with everyday, even if it is something small, even if it is something I don't find inspiration easily, it will find me.  When I finish a day I have a sense of accomplishment which makes me "want" to do more.  I can use this creative energy on another project or something that needs tending to.  I've also seen an improvement in my photography.  The picture of the tassels came out really nice.  So I'm working on something that I really want to be good at.

See Kym's inspirations HERE.

Pecahkan Kebuntuan: Unstuck in Malaysia!

One of my favorite things about being a published author is finding out that your book has been translated into another language. This week I got a copy of my book Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing... in Malaysian!

I haven't found a place to purchase it online yet, but I hope my friends in Malaysia are able to get it at their local bookstores.

Adjusting Your Focus

Carol Blake Sessums in Terry, Mississippi is doing a daily photography project she calls Adjusting Your Focus...  

Why did you decide to do this project? I’ve been a photographer from the age of 12.  I love taking photos and hiding behind the camera.  I prefer candid shots of people, animals, nature and our travels.  However, I’ve never done anything with it until recently (started photography blog Dec 2011).  Honestly, I was working on another project and put that one down (out of fear), and picked this one up.  I was looking for another route to express myself; a different creative outlet. 

I also started the photo blog as a way to teach myself follow-through.  I have a bad habit of stopping half way through something or even close to the beginning.  So far, so good.  333 posts, and then some, so far, for 2012.  I’ve actually posted every day of the year, thus far.  I guess ya can teach an old dog new tricks, huh? 

Is it a fresh picture every day?  Well, no.  I do get out there and take pictures frequently, but many of my shots are from days, weeks, months, even years passed, which is fine with me, since the original idea was to post a photo every day, not necessarily take a photo every day.  Besides, some of the photos I take are while driving (and may I take this opp to say “sorry” to all you drivers near me at the time), and/or the photos I take are blurry at times (hence, the driving thing), and I’m not posting those, for sure.  One particular day, I was sick (which almost NEVER happens), I felt like poo, I was exhausted, my computer was NOT cooperating, so I posted via my phone, but hey, whatever works.  The point is, I got it done.  Right?

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? Most days, it has been a true joy for me to post daily on my blog.  I have met many cool people as a result, who have become good friends; some I even consider family.  There are soooo many kind, intelligent, talented, humorous, creative, fascinating, colorful people out there in the world, and seeing as I am somewhat of a shy person (although many of my friends would disagree), it’s one of the best ways to get to know people, as well as easier on myself ‘to be myself’ through a computer screen, rather than face-to-face.

Other days, honestly, it can be an outright chore to take or find a photo and post it, especially with many other projects going on, chasing after a 13 year old with many projects of her own, working a full time job, and the list goes on.  However, on those fast-paced days, I just suck it up, and do it anyway.  It is nice to feel that sense of satisfaction of actually getting it done, whether I wanted to, or not - a real sense of accomplishment.  If I can seriously do this every single day for an entire year, what else can I do?  Maybe I can be a success?!  Oh wait...  I guess I already am.

See all of Carol's photos HERE.

The Quotidian Egg

Serial daily project maker Keltie Borden in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is creating a new project: The Quotidian Egg...

Why did you decide to do this project? I was researching a Kinder egg toy that my daughter had received.  I stumbled across EGG WORLD and was charmed by the idea of opening Kinder eggs as a project.  I discovered that we could buy a few lots of capsules on eBay from a seller in Germany so we bought some and The Quotidian Egg was born!

Also I had recently completed my prior 365 project Art On My iPhone and missed having a daily project so starting another one was something I wanted to do.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? This project has been different from my previous one in that I have to hide what I'm doing from my daughter who is only three and would very much want to play with the toys.  So the challenge is to find time in the day apart from her to open capsules and take pictures of the toys. She has started having some very long baths!

See all of Keltie's eggs HERE.

Blessings on the Wind

Liz Pearce in Ngongotaha, Rotorua, New Zealand is creating a daily prayer flag project she calls Blessings on the Wind...

Why did you decide to do this project? Starting in March, 2012, I have been making, and hanging, a prayer flag every day. I use the template recommended by The Prayer Flag Project. I photograph the flag, and then hang it in my yard: a blessing in the wind. Finally, I post the photograph on my prayer flag blog on my website I limit myself to thirty minutes for the entire process.

During March, 2012, I read an article about The Prayer Flag Project. It's simplicity; it's compassion; it's power to heal, all appealed to me. I decided to commit to making one prayer flag a day for a year.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? Prayer flags have become an intrinsic part of my day. I have been making them for over 260 days and the practice is as normal for me as brushing my teeth or walking the dog. I have made flags to mark special occasions such as ANZAC Day, the death of a friend's mother, and the departure of my daughter overseas. I find the daily practice a spiritual practice: meditative, creative, disciplined, an anchor point for my day. It is also addictive!

See all of Liz's prayer flags on her blog HERE.

Amy's Owl a Day

Amy Shock in North Canton, Ohio is making an Owl a Day...

Why did you decide to do this project? A friend of mine (known as the Instigator of Awesome) caught me doodling owls during a Weapons of Mass Creation session and asked, "Why don't you do something with those?" My knee-jerk response was, "I'm too busy" but he continued to insist that I do something to release them into the world. I really didn't see the point since I've been doodling owls since I was quite small. After the conference, I realized that I was nearing a serious design burnout for various reasons so I decided to try creating a single owl a day as my daily design "happy thought." (I was also curious about what others thought of my funny little owls.)

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? Posting my owls each day has lead me to my illustration style. I can draw many things and create even more in Illustrator, but none of them seemed connected or really "me." It has also helped me get over my fear of not being good enough as an illustrator.

Posting these owls has lead me to some really great project ideas that I might never have considered before--cross stitch patterns, felt owl patterns, fabric design, coloring books, prints. I have yet to tackle these seriously, but they're exciting ideas I can turn to when burnout creeps up on me once again.

And of course there is all of the positive comments I get from friends and complete strangers! It's been awesome to have so much positive support for something that started out as a few doodles that would have only found their home in my daughter's bedroom or the recycling bin.

See all of Amy's owls HERE.

Making Made

Jeanne Haegele in Chicago, Illinois is doing a yearlong project she calls Making Made.

She explains: "Since nothing makes me happier than making stuff, my project this year has been to make something every single day for 365 days.  The things I make for my blog, Making Made, tend to center on what I like doing the most—doodling, photography, and cooking—but I allow myself to do pretty much anything including craft projects, songwriting, making videos, or whatever else I can dream up"

Why did you decide to do this project? I decided to do this because I enjoy making things, but previously would never get around to creating anything, I guess because I was too lazy, too afraid of mistakes, and too busy doing things that I didn’t find nearly as satisfying. I knew that doing a 365 blog would force me to work on projects, despite my laziness or time commitments, and also help me with my fear of messing things up.

I also hoped that making something every day would help me learn knew skills, such as pen drawing and digital illustration, and help me get better at cooking.

Lastly, I think I just wanted to challenge myself and find out if I could even do something so crazy. Was I determined enough to make something for 365 days straight?

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? I think there are two really important ways that Making Made has affected my daily life. First, it's  forced me to adjust my priorities around my creative projects, which has been a great thing for me. Before, I used to come home from work and do whatever I wanted. Now, when I get home, I have to figure out what I want to create that night, figure out how long it will take, and then adjust what I do in the evening around that. Sometimes I fail at the whole planning thing, though. One night, I woke up with a start around 12:30 a.m. because I hadn't made anything that evening. Ahhh! I hopped out of bed and quickly photographed some fruit (problem solved!).

The second thing that's really changed for me is that I spend a lot more time searching out creative inspiration. Whether it's shuffling through artsy boards on Pinterest, reading some of my new favorite blogs (I love Doodlers Anonymous, Booooooom, and the Jealous Curator), or talking about ideas with friends, I feel like my whole life has been infused with a sort of artistic energy that was never there before. It's really exciting!

See all of Jeanne's projects HERE

Rebecca's A-Robot-A-Day

Rebecca Jackson in Lawrence, Kansas is creating A-Robot-A-Day...

Why did you decide to do this project? Due to a mild obsession with robots and a generous stockpile of recycled bits, I’ve been making recycled robots for almost three years now.  I saw Noah’s book and became inspired to try to make something robot-related every day.  I thought it would be a great way to explore new mediums and force myself to actually create every day (not just daydream).   As a mother of four young boys, I’m a professional procrastinator when it comes to doing the things I actually want to do.  This project has given me an “excuse” to do something fun and also allows the boys to join in if they want.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? I am terrible about follow-through.  If I’m lucky, I get something 90-95% done, but then end up going on to something else.  So embarking on a daily project has forced me to actually complete my endeavors and, thereby, experience some measure of satisfaction—you know, instead of enduring the guilt-ridden “I-really-need-to-finish-that” mantra of my pre-365-Day life.

I’ve also found that instead of running out of ideas, I seem to be overflowing with new ones.  Finding the time/energy to make them materialize is another matter, but it’s nice to know my creative spark didn’t get entirely doused by the monotony of adult life. 

See all of Rebecca's robots HERE.

Brother and Sister Projects

Helle & Vincente Göransson in Göteborg, Sweden are using my book to create Brother and Sister Projects...

Why did you decide to do this project? I found the book in a store where they sell funny and inspiring things. I thought that it could make my days less boring. And so it did! We've taken the tasks really serious and the outcome have been really funny and great :) me and my brother loves creativity and new thinking so this book is just perfect for us!

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? This is not a daily project for us but we do it every time we meet. It has become a routine kind of. It's challenging and exciting. It makes the world such an interesting place. Life changes colour for a moment and you can stop thinking of any other problems you may have. I don't do things I don't love on my free time. I love this book. It really makes my life better! Thank you!

One experience was when we went out in the woods, in the middle of the night, to build things out of trees. We built them inside of course :) We sat for five hours creating that night/morning :)

p.s. You can find the Swedish language version of my book 365: A Daily Creativity Journal in many online bookstores.

Colour of The Month

After completing two yearlong projects – Daily Oak ("one tree, two positions from which a photo is taken on every day that I am in town, pictures of ‘guest trees’ on days that I am not") and Daily Mail done collaboratively with Kathy Loomis ("an e-mail per day with a picture of 'something') – Uta Lenk in Southern Bavaria, Germany has a new project: Colour of the Month ("going through the color wheel of primary and secondary colors I take a picture of something of that color on that day")...

Why did you decide to do this project? I loved the regularity of Daily Art as I experienced it in my projects together with Kathy Loomis, and my Daily Oak Project. I would have liked to do another tree after the conclusion of Daily Oak but did not find a different species in the vicinity that fit my requirements (easily accessible so that getting there would not take too long, single tree). I wanted to concentrate on color to increase my awareness of color, color range, color gradation, and “Colour of the month” has certainly been a successful project in that respect.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? The Daily Oak project has taught me a lot about trees in general, old trees in particular, and oaks as such. I believed myself to be aware of issues in nature before, but realized that there is still a lot more to learn. My family was affected in that they learned to accept my daily going to the tree. Sometimes I would ask my husband to take the little detour so I could take the picture of the day. If the sun broke through unexpectedly on a particular day my husband had learned to read the bounce of my step on the stairs as indicating whether I was going to see the tree... The Daily Mail project has heightened my awareness about what we see when we care to look, and what we overlook when we just trod through life. And it was interesting to get to know a person mainly through e-mails and pictures. That was the best art project of my entire life!

See all of Uta's projects HERE.

[BONUS] 180 Days of Art

I recently gave the keynote address at the Virginia Arts Education Association's annual conference and afterwards was given this lovely limited edition book by Roderick Rhodes...

Roderick, an elementary school art teacher, spent the 2003-2004 school year creating a daily art project. For 180 days he created small squares of art in six-piece panels, based on his experiences each week working with over 700 students!

The Daily Tree

Claudia Bear in Torrance, California is creating The Daily Tree...

Why did you decide to do this project? I got your book a few weeks ago based on a recommendation from my daughter's teacher.  As soon as I started looking through the book, I had so many ideas in my head, I knew I had to start a project right away.  I chose the tree theme because I love drawing, painting and photographing trees.  There's something about the branching shape of a tree that intrigues me.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? I'm only on day 12 of my project, but I'm trying very hard to make this a true, DAILY project.  I'm usually such a planner, that my natural tendency would be to make a bunch of projects ahead of time and then stay ahead of schedule for the whole year.  My daughter even asked me "Mom, are you going to make some extras ahead of time, in case you get sick or something?"

Well, sure enough, I ended up getting sick during the very first week of my project, but I still stuck to my daily schedule.  For some people, the discipline of a 365 project might be to avoid "falling behind."  In my case, it's a different kind of discipline - learning to hold back and to wait a day to complete a project!

See all of Claudia's trees on her blog or on Facebook.