make stuff together June 30, 2011

Kathie Sever and Bernadette Noll recently sent me a copy of their amazing new book, Make Stuff Together, and I’m today’s co-stop on their blog tour along with the lovely Rachel Hobson! Make Stuff Together has 24 projects to create as a family, with tons of encouraging, helpful advice on crafting with kids of all ages, attention spans, and skill levels.

Make Stuff Together

Each project, as Diane pointed out in her review, is broken into three sections so there are natural stopping points and kids can take a break before diving back in the same afternoon. The emphasis is on recycled and reclaimed materials and meaningful, personalized projects, and Kathie and Bernadette offer some intriguing thoughts on sparking and supporting kids’ creativity without overwhelming them or taking over.

I got to talk to them about a few of their favorite projects and their process in creating this book. Check out their Future Craft Collective and Slow Family Living sites for much more, too!

How did you two collaborate on the book? Did each of you create certain projects independently, or did you team up on most things as a pair/with families?

Bernadette: For pretty much all of the projects we came up with the list together – we knew we wanted to really stay focused on things that worked towards building family connection. Then Kathie would sew and I was sitting right there writing. Writing up the instructions as she called them out and writing the text as well. It was a really nice process and a good way too for us to make sure we kept from getting too sanctimonious. We’re both good about calling each other on that one!

How old are your kids now?

B: Kathie’s kids are 7 and 10 and mine are 13, 11, 8 and 4.

Wow, that’s a great range for doing all kinds of projects. I’d love to hear your suggestions on the ones that are the most accessible to younger kids – my daughter is 3 and loves to make things, but some of the more advanced projects are obviously further out for us.

B: I’d say the napkin rings would be a good one to do with littles. Or, you could do the flags as a toddler project as well and let your little one do the embellishment on the white fabric. And in some of the others, perhaps have her sit on your lap and do some of the sewing? That’s how my kids all started sewing – by starting first on my lap. And of course, any of the burlap projects are good because you can do the hand sewing on the burlap, which is a really simple fabric for littles.

Do each of you have a favorite project from the collection?

B: I love the appreciation banner. To me this is one tool that can really transform family dynamics. If we are getting too cranky or overwhelmed, the appreciations are a great way to turn that around. Also, if I feel I, or someone else, is getting too “poor me” the appreciations can really bring us to a whole new attitude. AND, I also like the appreciations because it can help me as a parent get more of what I actually do want.

Appreciation Banner

Kathie: My CURRENT favorite project (I’ve had many over the couple years this has been coming to fruition) is the game board and caddy.

I always forget what an amazing tool simple board games and card games are for just being with your family. Summer reminds me of these simple pleasures – and about the evolution of my own parenting skills as I learn to sit with a frustrated child who is losing a game instead of making it a “teachable moment”… plus checkers and backgammon (a game that Bernadette introduced me to) are just damn fun.

Game Board

My favorite has to be the lunch tote, a hiking-ready bag with lots of compartments and cool bits and pieces. It’s at the top of the dream-project list for when Pearl’s past the burlap and safety scissors stage – I think she would rock out with that one.

Lunch Tote

Thank you to Kathie and Bernadette for the interview, and be sure to head over to Rachel’s blog for a book giveaway today! Also, they have some cool events coming up, including this one right here in Southeast Portland:

Cafe Au Play Portland, OR July 19th 10:30-noon

Kathie’s heading to Portlandia with a little crafty book signing at Cafe Au Play. Which looks like an amazing family place! Play, craft, eat and childcare all in the same place? Heaven. And even heavenlier with Kathie there signing our book!

See you there! I’ll be the one in the black and white Ramonster dress, which I snapped up the first time I met Kathie (we were booth neighbors at a way-back craft fair in LA… I think 2005?).

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