October 2006: CRAFT magazine on the horizon! October 3, 2006

What’s not to love about a magazine that shows you how to knit your own boots and crochet your own robot? Oh, and design your own custom-animated LED shirt, and create your own paint-by-numbers masterpiece while you’re at it! The brand-new CRAFT quarterly includes a broad sweep of super cool DIY projects and features, plus insightful columns like Jean Railla‘s Modern Crafting and Susie Bright‘s Home Ec. I got to talk to associate editor and craft-tech-style superstar Natalie Zee about the sparkling new Vol. 01 and beyond.

CRAFT magazine's logo
CRAFT Vol. 01 insert plus Natalie Zee, associate editor
An insert from the CRAFT Vol. 01 cover, plus Natalie at the San Francisco Stitch ‘n Pitch game (photo by Jen Greenwood)

What’s your art and craft background, Natalie?

I started crafting as a kid, mainly sewing and knitting, which I learned from my mom. Since
my parents both worked, after school I’d go to the Girls Club and I took a machine sewing class and learned most of the basics that I still use today. I was probably about 10 when I made this series of puffy pillows of all the letters in my name. I was so frustrated because I had the longest name and had to sew 7 pillows, while the gal named Lisa made her pillows super fast. I also used to make and sew Barbie clothes out of my mom’s old dresses. I still sew, but these days my main love is knitting, and I have about 5 or 6 knitting projects going on right now. I also do needlepoint and embroidery. Pretty much all crafts interest me and I love learning new things.

What are some of the solo projects you’ve worked on as a designer or writer?

I started my own personal blog last summer called Coquette. It’s really a labor of love and merges all the things I’m into: mostly fashion, technology, and crafts. I love how these groups are now intersecting. It’s been fun because through my blog, I’ve met so many new and interesting women who are blogging, and it’s exciting to see this new blogging world emerge.

How did you get into magazine work?

My background is in interactive design and technology. I’ve written 4 books, 3 of them web design focused. O’Reilly, who publishes both CRAFT and MAKE magazines, also publishes web design titles and they’re famous for their technology/programming books. It’s a natural fit for my background to incorporate crafts, design/technology, and writing. In addition to writing for the magazine and CRAFT blog, I also design and help maintain the websites makezine.com and craftzine.com.

What are you most excited about in the first issue of CRAFT?

Can I say EVERYTHING? 😉 I think for all of us, it’s fun to finally see all the work we’ve done this year finally in print. It’s been such a team effort. What’s great about now is that we’ve got all the initial ramp-up stuff done, such as the magazine branding, layout, and website design so now we can really concentrate on finding great content to share. It’s really all about sharing in our crafts community.

CRAFT montage
a sneak peek at a few Vol. 01 project highlights

Who are some of your favorite craft artists or sites?

I feel lucky in this job because I get to meet such amazing crafters all the time. It’s hard to have favorites, really, but the ones I adore have helped define this new kind of craft movement. I have admired these ladies for so long before I even started working in this field and crafters like Jenny Hart, Jill Bliss, Leah Kramer, Alicia Paulson, and Megan of Not Martha have been so helpful to me now that I’m a part of it!

Who or what inspires you most?

I love vintage and my favorite eras are the ’30s/’40s and ’50s/’60s. Vintage fabrics, books, magazines, cards — I love them all. I’m probably the biggest magazine addict. I absolutely love Japanese craft books and all things Japan. I told Carla (CRAFT’s Editor-in-Chief) that if I went to Japan I’d probably explode because of all the crafts, fashion, and technology — all in one place. I’m also really inspired by my grandmother, who was a fashion designer in Shanghai in the 1930s and my dad, who is an amazing artist and cartoonist. Even though we live in the same city, he sends me all kinds of funny cartoons he draws.

Natalie Zee's grandmother, Amy Wang, in the 1930s
Natalie’s grandmother, Amy Wang

What’s next for you and CRAFT?

We are excited now because CRAFT is almost out on the newsstands, and this fall, we’ll be spreading the word about the new magazine. We will be at a bunch of craft fairs, such as Bazaar Bizarre, Felt Club, the SF Craft Mafia Holiday Sale, and more. Check craftzine.com for more up-to-date info. We also just started work on our next issue, Vol. 02, which is called “Creative Copies.” And for me personally, I’m getting married in a week! So a lot is going on!

CRAFT at Renegade Chicago
CRAFT at Renegade Chicago in September

How can people subscribe or find the magazine?

It’s very easy. You can subscribe to CRAFT by going to craftzine.com and clicking “subscribe” in the top navigation. Vol. 01 is even available on Amazon.com now! CRAFT will also be on newsstands on Oct 17th. Some places you can find it include your local Borders or Barnes and Nobles, select Michaels craft stores, and JoAnn Fabrics.

Susan Beal is really excited that she’s writing for CRAFT’s issues 02 and 03!

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