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.