I have come to know some very interesting and talented people in the two years that I have been a member of Craftster.org; Rebecca, aka CraftyMamaBee, is one of my favorites! She recently created this amazing prayer flag, below, for her partner in the Prayer Flag Swap Round 2, and I asked her to tell me more about it, and about her life in general. Here is that interview.
Rebecca: Well, I wish I could take credit for the butterfly idea, but it was truly my partner’s. She wanted something to show “new life” that included a butterfly. I started googling butterfly images and found this one and it looked like a butterfly that had recently emerged from its cocoon. I noticed one of the words she had chosen to be a possibility for her flag was “Strength.” I saw the strength it must take for a small butterfly with wet wings to break out of that cocoon and decided that a butterfly really encompasses that “strength.”
So I had an image at this point but didn’t know how I was ever going to incorporate it on a flag! I was aimlessly walking around Joann’s just looking at everything and my 2 year old wanted to look at the “pretty papers” (scrapbook paper). There I noticed all the natural and handmade style papers, and I just thought I would print the butterfly on the paper… easy enough right?! Well when I got home I sat on it for a while and then thought I would draw the image onto the paper using pens instead. Little did I realize that the felt tip markers would just bleed into the paper enough to create this beautiful blending effect! Shading hasn’t always been a strong suit of mine, but it was just amazing how perfectly it came out!
With the cocoon, I just cut an almond shaped piece out of paper and snipped into the top and folded it over to create a kind of 3D effect. I sewed it on very carefully and then placed the butterfly on top of it and stitched him down. I saw that the cocoon needed “something” and went into the few fabric paints I have and there was this golden glitter paint. I simply sponged it on the cocoon.
The word “Strength” was actually the last thing I did. I had finished the flag and had nowhere to put this bead-embroidered version without it covering up a lot of the butterfly! Panic set in… I didn’t know what to do! I came into my fabric remnant stash and there all rolled up was a small piece of vinyl. I simply picked a font and size I liked for the lettering, printed it, and put the vinyl over it and painted over the lettering with puffy paint. Then I cut it down and stitched it on by hand very last. This way everything underneath could still be seen.
Leslie: Did you run into any problems or challenges as you put the flag together?
Rebecca: I think the biggest challenge was attaching the paper to the flag. I was using just a standard needle in my machine and a mistake could be costly. I had to restart a couple of times, and had to be sure my needle went through the holes I had already made in the paper so it wouldn’t shred. Also I couldn’t use a foot of any kind because it could snag the paper and start tearing it. I used my machine with no foot and went really slow… I sweated quite a bit because I didn’t have very much of the paper left to start over with.
Leslie: Did you learn any new skills or lessons from making this flag that will be useful on other projects in the future?
Rebecca: I did learn a lot about fabric dying! I used an ivory piece of burlap for the background and actually coffee and tea dyed it. Then I started using some distressed inks on it… It gave it this rustic look… of course it’s in the background and you can’t tell how much I did to it really, but it really taught be about how to get a desired effect from those mediums. I also learned from burning the edges of the frayed burlap that maybe I shouldn’t do that again! The burlap was hard to blow the flame out with! The embers would still burn! My piece of advice would be to do it over a sink!
But I am currently doing the Junker Jane Style Doll Swap you started on Craftster as well, and that dying and staining will definitely come in handy while making my “aged” doll.
Also I know better how to attached paper to my work. I found through a little trial and error on this project that a sharper, finer needle would be better next time.Leslie: Tell me a bit about your crafty background—what are your primary crafts? How long have you been doing them, and how did you learn them?
Rebecca: I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t trying some type of craft! I remember cross-stitching with my friends in grade school and trying everything from perler beads to watercolor painting. But it really came together when I started getting into beading. I had a little loom and made strung items but I remember walking through Borders (when it still existed… a sore spot for me… ha, ha) and I saw this magazine with a French beaded orchid plant on the cover. It was an issue of Bead & Button magazine and from then on I was a bead weaver! From there I decided I wanted to learn to sew and by the end of high school I was a self-taught sewer as well.
Crafts took a bit of a back burner in college, but after college I lived on Maui for a year and that is where my beading really got to the next level. I came home from there and decided I had to find a way to start selling and learning more! Thank goodness for the Internet!
Then right after I had our daughter, Abigail (just over two year ago) I decided I wanted to crochet baby blankets. I had received one and it was the most special gift. I wanted to pass that on. And, well, quilting followed a year later!
I am a 100% self-taught crafter. My family is not a crafty bunch but they appreciate my love of it! I am adopted and sometimes wonder if my birth mother might be crafty as well! I know this desire to create has to come from somewhere!
*** Big Exciting Update--Shortly after this interview, Rebecca received her orginal birth certificate (which she had petitioned for in December.) Using that information, she found and contacted her birth mother on Facebook!! They have been chatting constantly, and Rebecca has learned that her birth mother and her youngest daughter both are avid sewers. So yes, it seems that her creativity was inherited! ***Leslie: Which of your other projects are you especially proud of?
Rebecca: I am really proud of a couple of beaded projects I have made. I actually had entered a necklace entitled, “Midnight in the Garden” on a Craftster monthly challenge last January and won! I was so confident I also entered it into the San Diego County Fair in 2012 and took Honorable Mention! I felt like I was good at something I taught myself for the first time. I am just now starting something even bigger for my entry this year...you’ll have to keep an eye out on my blog!
Also this Christmas I finished a necklace I started about 10 years ago for my mom! She so graciously bought about a hundred dollars worth of beads for this necklace and I just now finished it! I wasn’t ever really inspired by it … wasn’t my color choice and style. But now that it’s finished, and I saw her wearing it the day after Christmas, I was standing a little taller, proud that it was something I had created! It was jade and a lot of reds… not my colors but man, I would wear it now! Ha ha!
Leslie: How did you find Craftster? How does it fit into your crafty life?
Rebecca: I found Craftster completely by accident! I was using Google to search crochet items, and there was this link for Craftster. I signed up and loved seeing what all was there! At the time I had become a stay at home mom and was actually feeling a little bit of the baby blues. I found this to be a great way to just dive in and make friends that were there around my schedule! And Leslie, the swaps you organize are so much fun and challenge me to just the right point--so thank you!
Craftster really pushes me to try new things. Today I was using distress inks for only the second time and thinking, “Wow if I had never gotten on Craftster I wouldn’t be doing this right now!” Honestly, Craftster helped me find my niche here in my own community. I found a quilting guild and have made friends who enjoy crafting too, which is something I didn’t have before. Craftster is a place for me to talk about what I love without boring my husband to death!
Rebecca: It’s funny you should ask about my blog, because I just put up a post saying I may not have as many entries all the time, but promising that when I do they will be worth the wait! Yet as I posted it, I had a couple more saved to post at a later time!
I didn’t think it was going to be hard to do. I thought blogging was just so random and easy, but I am learning that it isn’t. You have to make time for that too! Between being a mom, wife, cook, cleaner, crafter, and TV watcher, I have to actually make time to blog! Ha, ha.
I want my blog to improve, I do know that! I want to get more of my ideas out there! I want to inspire! Today while I was out I took pictures of random things that would make great art quilts or beaded projects… My blog is just that place to unwind and see that maybe we don’t always have it together… So in summation it’s my work in progress this year.Leslie: I know you sell your work through etsy (that shop is also called Crafty Mama Beads); have you sold anywhere else, such as craft shows?
Rebecca: I started out selling by word of mouth and primarily to my mom. This year I am trying to spend more time building up my store with more sculptural beadwork and crocheted items so that I will have enough for a craft fair this summer here in San Diego.
Leslie: What are your crafty plans or goals for the future?
Rebecca: Well I plan on staying crafty! Ha, ha. I would like to really improve and expand my beadwork and my quilting. I want to learn from the experts! So I am hoping to find some time to take some classes when Daddy can watch Abby.
Goals… well I have a lot of those! But for the immediate future I want to win Best in Show at the San Diego County Fair this year. I am working on a piece, which I have said will probably use a good portion of my beading stash. Also I would like to be published for something I’ve created! I think that’s always been the goal, even as a child I wanted to see something I created in a book or magazine!
In conclusion, I found crafting to just “complete” me. I always wanted to be a wife and a mom, but with crafting included it really made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself. I am proud of what I create! I know I can look down on it at times because I see so many amazing creators out there, but that’s when I remind myself that the “One True Creator” made me just as I am! Then I look at what I’ve done and appreciate being given the talent just to be able to do it. I love being able to create so many things! I love using my hands and hope I will be able to for many more years to come!