Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crafternoon Tea with Eliza Muldoon

Eliza Muldoon is one of those brilliant people who does....well...everything. She is an Arts lecturer at COFA, curated this year's ArtMonth, is the co-ordinators of Arts Interview (I've added a link to this amazing series - worth a read) and is about to take on the role of  Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Public Programs Co-ordinator in Katoomba, where she currently lives. She is a mum, a film wife (we are a breed of our own!) and just an all round cool girl. And to top if off she has a craft book coming out this year... So we had cyber coffee (complete with imaginary hot waiter) to talk about her new book and how the whole thing got made…

How did "Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon" first come about?

Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon started with the realisation that although I promote the importance of art making to our wellbeing when lecturing I hadn't made time or space for making things in my own life. Then I added some guilt to that realisation when it occurred to me that I reflect on the enormous impact that making things with my parents has had on me and I haven't been making things with my own daughter. So, I committed to making something with Lotte every Sunday - this came to be known as Sunday Crafternoon. The reason it is Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon is simply because I never wanted our activities to be too demanding so we made things that were easy and often made with things that we already had on hand.

How did you get a book deal for the project?

I'm not exactly sure of the process but I think it started with a conversation about our crafting activities with a woman that had a daughter the same age, she happened to be my husbands' book publisher. I was convincing her how easy it is to make things and how much fun we've had. Before I knew it she had put me in touch with another publisher, who I had actually met previously, as she thought this could make a cute book. A couple of weeks later I bundled up the goods we had made so far and took them into the office for a meeting. Between the suggestion that this could be a book and the meeting I developed an instruction formula, the title and started taking photos of the processes we used to make each item.

What is the process for writing a craft book?

It was quite a bit more labour intensive than I expected, but the support from the publisher has been great and they have been incredibly patient with me while I have worked out what the dickens I am doing. Developing the craft project ideas was the easiest part, by the end of our 12 month adventure we seem to have made about 107 things and so all I needed to do was select which of those would be most suitable. I then had to develop a consistent voice for explaining how to make them, as Allen and Unwin were happy with my very conversational style. This wasn't particularly difficult to do either. Detailing the steps was a bit time-consuming though and often involved me remaking the items to work out how we had made them. The instructions benefited enormously from a magnificent editor who specialises in craft books. 

The final stage is the design stage, which we are in now, I had some ideas that the design team have completely respected and they have knowledge of what works in this style of publication and I completely trust them on that, and so this stage has been going very smoothly. I'm rather keen to see what it looks like all done! Nearly there.

Did you take the photographs yourself? What was the process like?

Taking the photos proved to be the most labour intensive aspect. In total we took about 4 500 photos in order to get 52 process sets that I was happy with. I love taking photographs and Allen and Unwin seemed to like my rustic, rough style but I would never consider myself a photographer and so I had a lot to learn- I made a LOT of mistakes. I had to pull apart a few of them and re-enact others because when we started we had no idea that this would be a book and so we didn't have any photos of the processes. Lucky for me I have a gorgeous, young photography-loving neighbour as well as a French-Canadian student that was staying with us and so between the three of us we muddled through. Lotte started to find being photographed a bit tiresome and so I started bribing her.

How long will the project have taken from start to publication?

The first email was sent in September 2010 and so almost two years from idea to book. I thought I could do my part in about 3 months! Oh how wrong I was.

What have you enjoyed the most about the process?

Definitely making the actual objects with Lotte. It was so great. Sunday crafternoons have been on hold lately as we haven't been home much but I am keen to get started again next week. Op shop outings for supplies is a close second.

What sort of books inspire you?

I love design books. My favourite book is 'Tibor' about Tibor Kalman, the Hungarian/American Graphic Designer that started colours magazine. It is a beautiful mix of pictures and politics. I bought it when I was a student and it was rather expensive so I had to lay-buy it. If I sit down to read, rather than just look at pictures it will be inevitably be a psychology based book concerned with neuroscience, organisation or creativity. 

How do you promote your book and get publicity for it?

I actually don't know how it will be promoted. Hopefully I'll get to just make more craft and somehow use that. Having just worked as the Artistic Director of Art Month Sydney I learnt an immense amount about both marketing and publicity processes. I guess it is probably time to start thinking about how it all applies to '...sunday crafternoon'.

And of course - when is it out and how can we get it?

It should be ready before Christmas. Maybe as early as September.

Thanks Eliza... my children and I look forward to being up to our eyeballs in glue, string and glitter...
 - The Scout

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