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Maker Moment: Crafty mommy-to-be Erika Buckley of Yay for Handmade!

Posted by Melissa Massello  February 25, 2014 04:28 PM

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Photo: via Yay For Handmade! & Instagram/Erika Buckley

With a new house and a new baby on the way, Erika Buckley found herself excited for the future, yet worried how parenthood would affect her sense of self. "It seemed like all the things had I kept putting off (writing more, trying to make a career in something more creative...) were suddenly in danger of evaporating before they ever had a chance to start," she says. But after a realization that many of the bloggers she follows and loves are moms, she decided to start Yay For Handmade! while awaiting the arrival of Baby Boy Buckley in June.

What's the first project you remember making/crafting?
My Grandma Gloria had a "I could make that" attitude towards life. She would crochet afghan blankets and delicate doilies, but one of her favorite pastimes was painting plain ceramic figurines. These were gifts that our entire family still cherishes. My earliest memories are of getting to choose a piece among her collection, learning how to mix and layer colors, and how to finish delicate features with gentle brush strokes.

Most successful project? Biggest fail?
I would say my most successful project as a whole would be all the handmade details that I created for my wedding in 2012. When I explained to my husband that I wanted to have a motif of "indie party animals," dressed in hipster clothes, and sipping drinks among a woodland soiree, I was lucky that he trusted my vision and let me run with it. This included, working with an artist to design a complete wedding invite suite featuring my whimsical animals, creating my own programs, menus and place cards, creating a escort card display, thrifting glassware for centerpieces, cutting burlap runners, making a DIY Polaroid photo booth, screen printed welcome bags, and handcrafting 30 giant paper flowers for a dance floor backdrop.

My biggest fail is probably not with any specific project — but more on how often I've underestimated the amount of time it takes for a project to actually get completed. I often go through trial and error especially when using new materials I'm unfamiliar with. This has led to a lot of last-minute stress! I'm much harder on myself for projects that didn't get my full attention. Feeling rushed can sometimes steal away some of the pleasure from crafting - having having fun is supposed to be a part of the creative process!

What do you DIY the most?
Probably gifts. I love to make personalized gifts for my husband and friends, baby showers, and holidays. I especially love gift wrapping! Wrapping presents in fun and unique ways is often way more exciting for me than actually choosing a gift.

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Photo: via Yay For Handmade!

Favorite/least favorite tools/materials?
I love working with high quality organic wool felt. I'll often buy color bundles with no project in mind, just to keep my collection robust. It's an easy to work with material, with unlimited possibilities. My least favorite material to work with would have to be wax! Making pretty, and even pressed, wax seals was a real challenge! I think I had to make 120 wax seals to get 50 decent ones!

Has a project outcome ever surprised you?
In high school, a friend and I decided to make a quilt together one summer. Neither of us had much experience beyond sewing in a straight line. We used all the fabric scraps that were leftover from her mother's many projects. The outcome was beautiful. But even more surprising is that 15 years later that same quilt is still in my home and in wonderful condition! This taught me that even novice handmade items can truly last over the years.

What's the best advice you've ever received?
Measure twice, cut once! I'll even have my husband check my math for projects sometimes!

What's your top tip for first-timers?
Just try it. I often ask myself, "what's the worse that can happen?" If it's that I waste some fabric or have to repaint a project, I'll go for it! If the worse is that I puncture a hole in the wall (which I've done) - then if I've got enough spackle on hand, I'll still go for it! But if the consequences have a larger price tag than trying to DIY something — I'll usually call in the professionals!

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Photo: via Yay For Handmade!

Anything you DIY now that you never thought you would?
Since purchasing a home in June of 2013, I've been learning more about the joys (and work) of being a homeowner. So lately I've been doing a lot of DIY home projects. In the summer we gut renovated our kitchen and DIYed my new butcher block counter tops. I learned how to sand, refinish and water seal those beauties to their semi-gloss glory. In the evenings after I clean the kitchen, you might catch me petting the counters, I'm truly that proud.

What won't you ever DIY/when do you call in the experts?
I'm artistic, but I'm not an artist. Unless I'm tracing an image or copying a simple outlines I've learned that commissioning artists to help create motifs for my projects yield far more professional results. It's also super affordable if you find a local art student to help you out! If they create a couple of images for you, you can print, screen print and redesign the same images into an entire suite or collection!

"When I'm not making stuff, I'm..."
Reading literary fiction or watching trashy reality TV. It's important to keep a creative balance!

Thanks, Erika! Follow her crafty journey over at Yay For Handmade!

~Tara

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the Authors

Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out More »
Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »

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