Oh, I can hardly contain myself!
It's our very first "My Gal Friday" feature, and it's awesome. You're going to love it...
Lucky me! I have the wonderful honor of introducing you to Jodi Kahn: mother, craftsperson, and author. Yes, author! Jodi has done what so many of us would love to do...turn her creative passions into a successful career inspiring others.
This is Jodi's most recent book, "Simply Sublime Bags: 30 No-Sew, Low-Sew Projects" (published by Potter Craft), and it's the one that she has generously provided for today's give-away! I can tell you from first-hand experience, it's super-cool. I actually purchased this book shortly after it came out, before I knew Jodi, and have loved it since I bought it. It's all about just what I love: making stuff with what's at hand, using things in new and unexpected ways, and living joyfully with what you make. And the best part is, because it is no-sew and low-sew, it is perfect for kids just getting into sewing crafts. (But as you will see, the designs are sophisticated enough for anyone.) Yay!
Curious? Have a look, my dears:
An adorable Chanel-inspired bag, made from what? You guessed it--a silver-bubble mailing envelope!
A clutch made from "caution" tape...
A sporty no-sew keyhole clutch...Is that enough to get you interested? I should think so!
Jodi was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and I know you will enjoy learning more about her and her creative "philosophy," as I did. Here goes! (and I will intersperse a few more photos):
You are a mother, and an author and craftsperson. How do you manage your time so that all areas of your life are relatively "in balance?" (Or is that a dream?!)
Trying to balance being a mom, working, pursuing something creative, (along with being a good wife, daughter, sister, friend etc!) is my constant challenge. And I do think it’s a bit of a dream to have things in balance, all at once, at least for me. To be honest, when I’m working on a project, like a book or article etc, (anything with a deadline), most everything, except for being a mom, and keeping up with my other relationships, falls by the wayside. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it’s true. For example, I’ve been working on another book for the last several months, and my house looks like a bomb went off. I have a workspace in the basement, but I’ve also taken over the entire dining room, and have piles of fabric and supplies and projects all over the house. Luckily, my family is very understanding and supportive, but I wish I were better at keeping all those other balls (like housework, reading, exercise, etc.) up in the air at the same time.
A few tricks that do help (when I actually do them) are: Setting up my week with blocks or days devoted to work and writing. If I “schedule” my work, like it’s a doctor’s appointment or something, it helps -- so that the day doesn’t get away from me. Also, my kids are older now, (11 and almost 14) so they really can pitch in, which makes a big difference (especially with meals!) I guess that’s a long way of saying that I’m not as balanced as I’d like to be! I try to console myself with the old notion that you can try to have it all, just not all at once.
Have you always sewn and created things? Are you self-taught?
I have always loved making things…always! And just the other day, my sister and I were laughing about the fact that now, as a “grown-up” I’m basically doing the same things I use to do when I was 9 years old. I wrote about this a little bit in the intro to my book, but I use to spend hours and hours making things for my Barbie dolls when I was a kid. I sewed dresses, purses, bedspreads and drapes for them. I made little books and pillows and lamps. I could lose myself for hours when I was creating something, and I still can. And that is what is so much fun about creative pursuits. It is so absorbing.
My aunt Arline first taught me to sew when I was nine, then I learned more of the “fundamentals” in 7th grade home-ec. And then the rest I just learned by doing and asking a lot of questions. I would love to take some more advanced sewing classes some day, but you’d be surprised how much you can make with a basic sewing machine (mine is an old Singer that I got used when I was 13 years old), and the skills learned in junior high!
How did you turn your passion for creating into a successful career as author? Was it always the plan, or was it accidental?
It was accidental. I was a television producer for the first part of my career, before I had kids. And then when I had my son, I wanted to find a way to be at home more, so I started doing freelance writing. I wrote an article about gift giving, and elegant gifts, and a small publishing house saw it and asked me to write a book called “The Little Pink Book of Elegance: The Modern Girl’s Guide to Living with Style.” I loved writing the book so much; I put my energies into trying to get an agent, so that I could work on one of my own book ideas. My wonderful agent at ICM, Andy Barzvi, listened to all my pitches, with mild interest, and then I said to her, “I’ve got one more idea: My husband thinks I should write a book about all the stuff I make…all the invitations, and gifts, and parties I throw,” and her eyes lit up. She realized that this was something that I truly loved, and that was going to be unique because these were my creations. My proposal was filled with all sorts of ideas for adding EASY style to add to your life (because I don’t have a lot of time, and I like instant gratification) and it included a simple gift idea: A no-sew tote bag made from shiny vinyl, put together with a stapler and duct tape. We sent the book proposal around in the no-sew totes, and that, of course, is what caught everyone’s attention. So now, I’ve somehow (happily!) come back to doing the one thing that has always made me tick – creating things. My husband and my agent were really the ones who saw the potential in my “craftiness”.
How do you feel that being creative helps you to be a better mom, friend, person-in-general?
I think being creative, and making things is SO energizing and so much fun. It totally charges my battery. And I think that helps me be a better mom, certainly. And I just think in general, when people do something they’re passionate about, and something that turns them on, it just makes them more ALIVE – not to sound too corny. I know selfishly, the world is just a much more vibrant place for me when I’m able be creative. It’s like letting the sun in.
I'm so grateful to Jodi for taking the time to answer these questions. And I am delighted to call her my friend--we met through my blog, and although we are many hundreds of miles apart, we "chat" frequently and I can honestly say that she is a dear person...(That's nice to know, right?)
Jodi has a new book coming out soon, “Simply Sublime Gifts: High Style, Low-Sew Projects to Make in Snap” -- and it comes out next summer (summer 2010)! I, for one, will be pre-ordering.
And here's the really fun part! As I said before, Jodi has provided a brand-new copy of her book for one of the lovely readers of Sweet Life! Just leave a comment, and I'll randomly pick a winner next Wednesday morning.
***Mention this give-away on your blog or twitter, and get two extra entries each (two for blog, two for twitter)!***
Thank you, Jodi! And, as always, thanks to my sweet readers for stopping by...And remember, if you would like to be featured as "My Gal Friday," just drop me a line...