Hi, we're Andrea and Danielle of Crafting Connections - thank you so much for having us! We can be found sharing tutorials and writing on all things related to raising a creative family (and that includes being creative oneself!) over at www.craftingconnections.net. We can also be found sharing inspirational glimpses and dyptych photos of #theeverydaybeautiful over on Instagram (and throughout this interview!) and pinning more projects than we know what to do with on Pinterest!
1. What is Crafting Connections and what was the motivation behind it?
Crafting Connections is a website for creative individuals and families. We initially started nearly 3 years ago as a quarterly print magazine for little ones, but after 2.5 years in the print business we felt we had more to give and share than our little magazine offered, so we have since gone all digital with several free mini-magazines and a new digital magazine called Our Creative Journal available only to our Inspiration for Creative Families email subscribers (it's free to join!)
While the format and focus of Crafting Connections has changed over the years - opening up from a focus on early childhood to being much more holistic - our motivation to inspire and support others in bringing creativity into their lives has remained the same. And we're not talking do a craft a day or anything like that. We're talking real creativity - for real people, living real (busy, messy, full and beautiful) lives!
2. What part of Crafting Connections do you enjoy creating the most?
Andrea: For me it's two fold. First, I love working with Danielle. It can be hard to find someone super excited to talk about all things creative on a nearly daily basis, but OH! When we get chatting, well, we have far more ideas than we will ever have time to put into action, which I think is awesome!
Second, I love being able to share things I create with the creative community we've gathered over the years. To help folks see that it doesn't have to be hard. To inspire someone to try something to. And man, our readers share SO much with us - such great ideas - it's really fun.
Danielle: Honestly, my favorite part of working with Crafting Connections is the motivation I get to walk the walk. In all the work that we do, we encourage people to live creatively - both as creative adults and also as creative families. As I talk the talk with so many families in our various online spaces, I always feel motivated to walk that walk. Walking the walk keeps me fresh and gives me countless ideas for inspiring other families to do the same - whether it is pointing them in the direction of an article I'm really enjoying, an art supply that is the bees knees, or a project that I'm feeling a little intimidated by.
3. Has working together as artists and mothers influenced your personal art making?
Andrea: Absolutely! When we met, neither of us were big sewists, now we're both working on garments (especially Danielle!), quilts (we both just finished our first!), and bags (especially me!) I've been inspired to give printing a try after seeing all the Danielle has made. Finally, Danielle and I were friends before we started Crafting Connections - she inspired me to start painting again, something that up to that point I hadn't done in many years!
Danielle: Before working side-by-side with Andrea, I wasn't very confident as a visual artist. Something about the creative support she gave me, really inspired me to believe in myself and my abilities and for a few years I ran a small printmaking business. While my business didn't stand the test of time, my love for printmaking did and I'm still making block prints weekly as part of my Print Weekly project.
4. Did either of you create before you had children? After? How has becoming a mother changed the way you both create?
Andrea: I have always had the need to create. As a kid and teenager it was the main way in which I processed my world and all the emotions that come with growing up. But that mostly stopped once I graduated college. After having my eldest and becoming a stay at home mama I returned to creativity to fill my day and let me tell you, I LOVED IT. I had this little sidekick to join me on my creative adventures and the time to try so many new things! Now that I have two little ones that's shifted, I don't have quite so much time, but instead my home is filled with works in progress. I can go into nearly every room and find something for my hands to do. And my kids are both so very into creating on their own, I feel very lucky, though I also know they are mirroring what they see, which makes me pretty proud as well.
Danielle: Creativity found me as an adult. My grandmother passed away and I inherited her knitting needles. Wanting to honor her and connect with her after her passing, I picked them up and I never stopped. Knitting was my gateway. Recognizing myself as someone knitting beautiful things, has given me the confidence to try other mediums as well. It's been beautiful and just what I needed!
5. What does a typical day/week look like at Crafting Connections? How do you share the responsibilities of running the site and creating content?
Oh goodness, I'm not sure if we have a typical day or week! We have learned and changed so much over the past 3 years, developing a lot of trust in each other and finding our united voice through Crafting Connections. At this point we split things pretty evenly - but it's no longer, "OK I'm going to write about X on Tuesday and you write about Y on Thursday." We are much more laid back than we were even a year ago, even though we now have more deadlines! We have a basic blog, tutorial, and weekly email schedule that breaks down who is doing what - but we leave the "what" in the hands of whomever is writing. We do talk daily M-F, though, so we always have a sense of what's going on. It took a LOT of work to get to this place in our work and in our relationship, but it's been so very worth it!
6. Obviously you both have a connection to each other as mothers and artists, do you also have strong connections with other artists/artistic mothers in your area? How did you foster these connections, and how do you continue to make them a priority?
Andrea: Sadly, I really don't. I have many wonderful friends and a great support network, but I don't think any of my mama friends would consider themselves artists or makers. For me, I think that is where Crafting Connections and the online community of creative mamas comes in for me - others who understand why I'm geeking out over fabric or lugging my camera around again! Danielle and I have both been part of an online group of fellow creative mamas for a few years now, and I got to meet many of them last winter which was a really restorative and inspiring visit! I am open and know I will meet creative and artistic women in my area, but I'm also not feeling the need to force it.
Danielle: My story is similar. I just moved to California a year ago and while I have already managed to build a supportive community of friends and parents, I haven't necessarily found or built a community of artists or makers. And, for the time being, it isn't feeling like a void. The connectedness that the internet provides is enough for me, at least for now, in that area of my life.
7. Now that Danielle has relocated to California, has this changed the way you both connect to each other as artists and mothers? How important, or not important, is it that creative mothers be in the same area? Do you feel that meaningful, supportive, and creative relationships can still thrive with distance and online?
They can totally thrive at a distance! I think the saddest part about Danielle moving from Chicago to California was that our eldest kids were very best friends. That's really hard and sad to see. We are only human and haven't done the best job of helping our kids keep in touch, though over a recent visit they fell back in thick as thieves, so clearly the love is still there!
That being said, we think there are definite benefits to having a fellow creative mother living close to you - being able to show, touch, and see the projects you're working on or helping with creative questions is great in person. It would be lovely to be able to sit and knit or sew together - or to teach classes together! But at the same time our relationship has changed in many wonderful ways since we were separated - it's deepened our trust and improved our communication skills. In fact, it's our distance that inspired our current side project called The Everyday Beautiful we've been sharing on Instagram - a picture a day from us both focused on something we've found beautiful. It's so amazing when the pictures match up in a nearly-cosmic way!
8. How do your children inspire and help your creative process? What do they enjoy most about Crafting Connections?
So many tutorials we've shared in our space were first inspired by our little ones - either what they were currently interested in, or a project that they came up with (like our dream catchers during a particularly nightmare-heavy time, our puppet theatre because they wanted to put on a play, or our abstract painted scarves inspired by all the little cars we have in both our homes!)
I think our little ones enjoy getting to try new things and do a few craft projects. Neither of us are big project-based makers with our kids, preferring to let our little ones explore creative mediums how they would like and helping them with the creative projects they come up with on their own. I certainly think our little ones all love living in creative households - there is never a shortage of crayons, paper, pencils, tape and the like!
9. What are the most challenging things about being mothers, artists, and running Crafting Connections? Has working together helped you handle these challenges?
We all only have 24 hours in our day - it's up to us to decide how we will spend that time. For a good two years Crafting Connections was (and felt like) work. Don't get us wrong, we enjoyed it, but we were also both worried about it taking away from our time with our little ones. Above everything, working on our communication and relationship has helped with all those areas as mothers, artists, and entrepreneurs. We've learned a lot about ourselves - including what we can let go of and what we're really passionate about. We're also at a point where running Crafting Connections no longer feels like work, it feels like the best side-project ever (you know, the thing you start because you're super pumped and passionate about it?!) It's also nice to have someone you can call up and grump about your kids to and they totally don't judge. That's also key!
10. What have you sacrificed in order to create Crafting Connections? What have you gained?
This is a hard questions because it's not generally how we think of things. So for what's been sacrificed there's the obvious thing, time. We have spent a LOT of time working. So much behind-the-scenes type stuff, including big emotions, tears, laughter, the whole nine-yards. We've also sacrificed control - when you work with a partner, it is a whole new level of give and take that you don't have in most friendships or when you work solo.
But what we've gained has been amazing. A friendship different from any other friendship either of us have ever had (we've been our authentic selves, warts and all, on many-an-occasion!) We've gained this great creative outlet, a connection to thousands of readers that we truly care about and get excited to hear from! We've improved our photography and writing skills. We've gained confidence and a thousand ideas of things to do in the future. Really, it's hard to put into words all we've gained in this process, because truly there's been so much.
11. Where do you see your site/magazine going over the next few years? Goals?
Well, like we said above, the physical magazine has ended and we probably won't be returning to print (though both of us are HUGE print fans!) Right now we are working on putting together a podcast to come out this summer and a new long-form digital magazine called Our Creative Notebook that will come out in March. We are really happy with the path we are on now - sharing tutorials, inspiration, tips, and real-life glimpses into the homes and lives of fellow creative families. We want all the areas of Crafting Connections - our site, podcast, digital magazine, and social media spaces - to feel connected but not repetitive. In a time where so many websites are becoming a sort of "newsfeed" of what folks are doing in other spaces online, we're really dedicated to making sure that Crafting Connections remains relevant, helpful, inspirational and truly authentic (not the weird online "authentic" that gets kicked around with beautifully styled photos and the like.)
12. Can you offer any advice or tips to other creative mothers? Inspiration, wisdom?
As far as advice to give, we'd just say one thing -we know this life is busy and messy, but make time to do what's important to you even if most people wouldn't necessarily agree that it's important.
13. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you? Can be living or not, famous or not. If website links are available please add them.
Danielle: Artistic mothers that inspire me, well, I've got a few. Johanna Winter Harper, a talented designer and someone we interviewed in our space, seems to so magically integrate creativity into her life that it is unclear where one stops and the other starts. One of my deepest regrets is not building a stronger friendship with her before leaving Chicago, she'd probably be a lot of fun to chat with over a pint. I'm also a big fan of Amanda Soule, of Soulemama fame. I've read her blog since before I had children of my own and I continue to return to it time-and-again for a little dose of I-can-do-this-creative-mothering-thing.
Andrea: Like Danielle, I'm inspired by many creative women and mothers - including Danielle herself! One woman who I would love to meet in real life and chat with is Sandra Harris of Raincoast Creative Salon. I love her insights into creativity and creating, plus she's always coming up with great side projects, especially her #foliophoto Instagram challenges! She's been a long time inspiration to me for sure. I've also always really loved Rachel Denbow of Smile and Wave. I found her blog right after having my daughter and have been inspired by her willingness to try new artistic things. Finally, I'm eternally inspired by Danielle Krysa - otherwise known as The Jealous Curator. The art she finds and shares on her site, well, it makes me want to go out and try all the things, make all the things (and yes, buy all the art!)
I'm no longer doing Creative Mothers interview, but this will remain as an archive. Thank you for all of the love!
About the Series
Let's face it, being a mother can be the most challenging, and the most rewarding thing. Being a mother who needs to be creative can be even more challenging, it can even feel lonely at times.
So let's dig deeper into the lives of creative mothers, share their amazing work, and get some insight into creating while parenting. Hopefully, inspiring other artistic, creative mothers, and women who may one day be mothers themselves, along the way.
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