I have just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which I totally loved. And NOW I am re-reading James and the Giant Peach (as part of the Meet Me At Mike’s blog Retro Readers program!) and 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik. I’m studying up lots about community, connection, belonging, happiness and friendship at the moment!
Can you tell us about Make Hey!
Make Hey! is a lovely colourful book, packed full of projects for the crafty-to-be. It’s aimed at people of all ages and it cheerily encourages creativity in all that it touches. I hope. Well, that is my plan anyway and I firmly believe that making things is as important as cooking or gardening or being sporty or breathing…!
I’ve included projects in all kinds of materials for all kinds of people, and the book is full of beautiful photos of ace things, be they mid-century, 80s throwbacks or lovely vintage pieces. My friends and I even compiled some recipes, a reading list and a Sunshiney Day playlist, in case you’re stuck for something to listen to!
What should fans of your previous books expect from the new one?
This book is like the adorable cousin of the two that went before it. I think I’ve really hit my straps and this book is packed with the things I love to make, as well as lots of things from my house too. I got a chance to work once more with my editor Jane Winning, my favourite designer Michelle Mackintosh and photographer John Laurie, and I think our familiarity bred content! A wonderful team resulted in a super wonderful book, and I think it has a lot more Pip personality than the previous titles did. I am showing off a bit more!
How do you go about the process of putting together a book like this? Does the craft come first or do your ideas grow in the writing?
I start with a basic idea about the kind of book I want to make. Then I think of a title. Once I have a title, the book has life and I work really intensely on designing, testing and writing. Because craft books are technical books, I usually have to write each project once, getting the technical bits right, and then re-write a second time, adding a more friendly conversational tone. It’s super important to me that my books are not just about craft, so I make sure there are lots of little extra nice-life tips in there too. After all, my life is not ALL about craft, so I try and add some bits of Pip Life in there too. I must say, I really love working with our little gang to gather the right things to appear on the pages, betwixt the projects as well.
You founded a craft group called Brown Owls that has become hugely popular. What is it that makes communal craft so appealing?
I think the deep, dark secret few people know about communal crafting is that the craft comes second! Friendship comes first at a group like Brown Owls, and although we are all there under the guise of making things (and things sometimes do get made!), we are actually there to make friends with other nice people and to connect with others in ways that might otherwise not be possible. It’s a super chatty, creative, safe way to meet people you may never meet otherwise. And there is often cake!
Out of all the things you've made over the years, is there something that stands out as particularly special for you?
The Fox Quilt which appears on the cover of Sew La Tea Do is a favourite of mine. I love its simple lines, its graphic appeal and its nod to vintage illustration and kids lit.
Your shop, Meet Me at Mike's, sounds like a wonderful celebration of all things unique and vintage. What is it that inspired you to start the shop?
I wanted to work in a job which meant something to me. I was terrified about spending my life doing something which I didn’t really like doing. I had seen people working in jobs that they hated and it frightened the bejeezus out of me. We had an existing shop selling skateboards and tee shirts and sort of guy style stuff, so I decided to transform it into a shop selling all the kinds of things I loved. I sort of waved a magic wand and craft, vintage and cute replaced all the cool boy stuff. I was much happier and people really responded to the nostalgic creativity of it too!
There seems to be a growing wave of younger people discovering craft and handmade items, what do you think lies behind this?
I think young people are smarter than they ever have been. They are exposed to lots of ace technology and huge amounts of information every day. I think they realize that it is really important to get the most out of life. Rather than surface dwelling (going to work, coming home, watching telly, going to sleep) they are seeking more meaning, wider skills and deeper connections in their life. The familial legacy of craft, its sense of nostalgia, its creative rewards and the bespoke nature of crafting mean that there are wins all ‘round for those who craft. You get to choose what to make, you get to slow down and learn new skills, you get to share those skills with others and you get to feel part of a wider crafty and super creative gang. The kids know where it’s at!
Between the books, your blog, the shop, your columns and your family, where do you find the time to actually sit down and make something?
I am an avid crocheter and I have taught myself to crochet and watch TV at the same time. It’s an amazing skill! Sometimes I order a family road trip and crochet on the way. And very often I will get my hook and yarn out at the breakfast table. Make time to make, I say! There is really no excuse not to!
What would you say to someone who wants to hand make things but has no idea where to start?
Buy my book and make the Paper Wall Quilt! It is super easy, looks really beautiful and will give you all kinds of Dutch courage in the crafting department you’re your Wall Quilt admiring friends and family tell you how clever and creative you are!
What's next for you?
A new Meet Me at Mike’s website! And I have just started writing a new book, too! OMG!
You can visit Pip Lincolne online at Meet Me at Mike's.
Make Hey! by Pip Lincolne will be published by Hardie Grant Books on October 1st.