Tomorrow night I will be attending an Etsy Crafts Party hosted by CRAFTED, an exciting new venture in San Pedro, CA, featuring arts & crafts in a renovated warehouse every week from a wide range of DIY artists, where we plan to craft like its 1999! I cannot wait to report back to you how it goes, but in the meantime, I was able to chat with one of CRAFTED’S favorite vendors, Jennifer Priest, who hails from the High Desert outside of LA, owner of Hydrangea Hippo, an awesome Etsy store featuring papercrafts, something I was not too familiar with prior to e-mailing with Jennifer. Shes also a gifted instructor, so perfect for newbies like myself;) Heres what we discussed!
What got you into paprercrafts?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I ordered a pre-printed scrapbooking kit in the mail, in the hopes that I would be able to give her the completed baby book I never had as a child myself. The kit was very simple and as I received new kits in the mail each month, the techniques and supplies got more and more artsy. My main source of supplies and inspiration at this time was these mail order scrapbooking kits and a few trips to Michael’s. In 2003 a friend took me to a Scrapbook Expo and I got bit by the scrapping bug in a big way. Within a month I was selling supplies through a direct sales company and teaching classes. I started trying out for design teams and challenging myself to go beyond the intuitive uses for supplies and tools. I started incorporating techniques and crafts from my past. I have been crafting ever since I can remember and started selling home decor and jewelry at craft fairs when I was 9 years old. Cross stitch, sewing, crochet, painting, beading…all have worked their way into my papercrafts. I now consider myself more of a mixed media artist because nothing is off-limits. I still use paper the majority of the time, but it is a far cry from where I started 14 years ago.
How did you become an instructor?
Back in 2003 when I signed up to sell scrapbooking supplies via a direct sales company, the company referred to us as “instructors”. Their philosophy was that we would teach scrapbooking to our customers and that would then lead to sales. Within a few months, I was teaching at scrapbook conventions. I have always enjoyed helping other people create and that light bulb moment when someone “gets it” is one of the greatest rewards for me. I went to college to become a teacher and spent years tutoring others, receiving training from programs such as AVID. I imagine these skills come into play in my scrapbooking and crafting classes. I made tons of mistakes and learned from those – that is the best thing you can do when you make mistakes, is to learn from them. I developed a streamlined system for designing, kitting, and then teaching multiple classes each month. It is not only fun meeting new people through classes but many of the ladies who have taken my classes over the years have become friends or have started their own businesses after learning from me. That has been very rewarding! After teaching nearly every weekend at scrapbook stores, events, and crops, as well as 40-50 online classes per year, I decided I would take a step back from teaching this year. With opening a booth at Crafted, the teaching schedule I had in the past just wasn’t going to work and I was frankly tired. I have taught at CHA trade show as well as the Great American Scrapbook Conventions and online this year, but for the most part, I am taking the year “off” from how I taught in the past.
I am not as crafty as I would like to be, whats your advice to ‘wannabe’s’ like me?;)
What is it they say? “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Very few people, if any, roll out of the womb creating masterpieces. Just like an athlete has to practice, crafting is an art that you have to practice. However, unlike sports, there is no loser. The main thing you need to do is start creating and trying new things. In my classes I hear people say things like “I hate sewing” when they see me pull out a needle and thread for them to sew on their scrapbook project. But until they try it, they don’t know if they hate sewing on scrapbook pages or not. Most of the time, they leave the class excited about sewing on their pages, amazed at how easy it really is. Its like trying a new food–you don’t know if you don’t like it until you try it. My best advice to any crafter, new or not, is to try new things. Find something you think you might enjoy and try it. Take a class, get a book, or go to YouTube to find tutorials to help you along. Buy just a couple of tools and supplies to get started. It is okay to change your mind and decide that the craft you started is not for you so don’t invest $100s until you are sure you love it. It is also okay to change the rules in crafting. People made the rules up and if you have a new, different way of doing something, do it. If you need inspiration, surf Pinterest or blogs and see what other people are making. Just start “making”.
I was intrigued to read on your blog you’re an Army Veteran, did your time serving our country inspire any of your crafty-ness? Did you find any time during then to craft?
No, the Army is not a crafty inspiration for me at all. It does change how you think about the world though. When I was in the Army, I did still bead. I was stationed in Monterey, CA, to attend language school for a year and a half and there was the coolest bead store on Alvarado Street that I used to shop at. I still have some of the beads in my collection that I bought way back then. I mostly made necklaces and bracelets for myself and my friends to wear but crafting was strictly a hobby at that point in my life. Crafting was something I “did” back then. Now, its crafting is who I am.
Now, let’s get this craft party started!;)