‘OhMa Felt’

Crafting with Kata

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

This Saturday’s Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library was a total joy. On the warmest, sunniest day of the year, I was thrilled that we had a turnout of nearly 50 people to learn felt crafting from the lovely and talented Kata Golda.

We made adorable finger puppets like these samples that Kata brought with her.

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We had a lovely pile of gorgeous felt donated by Kata and the woman who hand dyes all of Kata’s felt, Sorcha of OhMa Felt. We have lots of leftovers, so we’ll be able to do many felty crafts in their future thanks to their generosity. I like this shot of one of the felt piles, drenched by the sun on a big library windowsill.

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The finger puppets are very simple to make, and Kata was a very clear and warm instructor, making sure that everyone felt comfortable doing the craft, no matter what their skill set. She’s precisely the sort of teacher I adore! Here she is showing us how to split threads for embroidery floss. Turns out you should split from the middle to avoid tangles. You learn a new thing at every Crafternoon.

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These are just three of the puppets made by our gifted attendees.

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Kata also brought a lovely selection of her other felt work, like this incredibly sweet group of creatures.

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Everything she makes has a magical charm to it.

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Every finger puppet family needs a bed, and Kata made sure that hers have a very cozy one.

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Kata’s darling daughter Odette and their dear friend Amy are along for Kata’s trip and were wonderful assistant teachers. Here are the three Pacific Northwesterners with my kind co-host, Jessica Pigza, and the finger puppets they crafted.

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And I managed to get a picture with the Golda girls and Jessica. I’m holding the felt toy that I just finished making for a baby shower. It was easy to make because I followed the clear and fun instructions and templates from Kata’s book, Hand-Stitched Felt. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, which is a testament to Kata’s great writing and illustrations.

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I’m so thankful that Kata was able to make the long journey cross country to share her time with us. Even on a perfect sunny day, I always have an amazing time crafting at the library. I even had time to whip up a little bunny puppet.

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Our great guests and lovely space make Handmade Crafternoon the perfect place to spend the day. If I do say so myself.

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Q & A with Kata Golda

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Our Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library last Saturday was a fantastic event. Almost 80 people turned out to learn some new paper-folding skills from the talented Esther K. Smith and browse the wonderful selection of library books pulled by Jessica Pigza. Jessica was kind enough to make a list of the books she pulled for the event, and it’s a fantastic resource for all of your future book arts projects. Thanks to the NYPL, Jessica, Esther and all of the eager crafters who came out and created.

On March 20th, we are thrilled to welcome the wonderful Kata Golda, who will be joining us all the way from Washington state.  Kata is the author of Hand Stitched Felt, a charming book full of sweet patterns and ideas for all sorts of lovely felt projects, as well as wonderful advice on crafting. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her life and her craft, and take some delightful photos to illustrate.

What is a day in the life of Kata Golda like?

i try hard to make sure that each day holds a very quiet early morning. this is when i 1. organize my sewing basket with the days projects, even if these projects are not priorities they are usually easy things to pick up and work on when i am interrupted all day long.

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2. make a list of what i have to do (return phone calls) and what i want to do (work on an illustration for a project).

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3. i like to do my written correspondence in the early morning and all of my writing…..no interruptions. as the darkness becomes light getting outdoors is essential….a run, a walk in the woods, the garden. it has taken me years to recognize that this time spent lessens the stress and makes me see the joy in what i do. i am reminded that i love what i do but because i make a list for the day that i could not possibly finish in a week i will always feel unsuccessful….so i rethink my priorities with thorough completion of one or a few things being the goal. i am a homeschooling parent, a gardener, a lover of the sunshine and the outdoors and a cook. as i shift gears from project to project i always put things back in their place, otherwise i become overwhelmed by the chaos. at the end of the day it is essential to leave enough time to clean up so i can start the next day with every tool back where it belongs and freshly sharpened pencils.

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You work with a group of women in your town to make the creations you sell all around the world. Does everyone work on their own projects at home, or do you all gather in one place to work, more like a quilting bee or a Crafternoon?

i work solitary and so do the few people that i work with. we all have different and specific things we do. we also live in oregon, washington and california.

You talk about the fact that your grandmother was a crafter and your mother is one as well. Does your daughter love crafting as much as you do? If so, how are your crafting styles different from one another?

i come from a crafty background..grandmother to mother (joy, to whom my book is dedicated). my daughter although good with fine motor skills, understanding and explaining, at this stage in her life, would rather be roller skating, playing basketball or exploring on her bicycle. that said she will be my enthusiastic and skilled helper at crafternoon.

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(Per Kata, pictured above is the darling project we’ll be making at the March Crafternoon!)

In the introduction to Hand Stitched Felt you describe how your stitching style underwent a dramatic change as you started working with felt, transforming from perfect stitches used for quilting to “larger, more irregular stitches”. You say, “I fancied the way the ‘imperfections’ in my stitches showed the presence of my hand in the work.” I am also a firm believer in wabi-sabi, which is the Japanese concept of the beauty in imperfection. Do you ever revisit those “perfect” stitches of your past, or have you found that once you embraced imperfection, perfection lost its appeal?

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i don’t really think about perfect and imperfect stitches. i just stitch the way i do. writing the book made me consider this and that was part of the great joy in working on Hand -Stitched Felt…to think about what i do and the way i do things…life just moves so quickly forward, i am grateful for this experience to reflect.

I’m a huge fan of your felt maker, Oh Ma Felt. How did you meet Sorcha and how did the partnership come to be?

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my felt is made by OhMa Felt. Sorcha, my dear friend, started dying felt for me when i was having trouble with color consistency and safety issues with the plant dyed felt (i make things for children and need to pass safety tests). she came up with formulas for fabulous colors and child safe and consistent color! she dyes all of the felt that i use.

What is it like to be a small craft business owner? What is the biggest headache and what is the greatest reward?

i absolutely love what i do although it does present its set of challenges. i often feel overwhelmed and have a difficult time stopping working…that said i am so lucky to spend my days doing what i love to do. there are of course logistics of running a business that i don’t enjoy…dealing with past due invoices, worrying that i will run out of ideas and worrying that i will fail as it is all up to me to keep it rolling….sometimes at these moments i see the real appeal of a job that you leave at 5pm.

What is your next big project?

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Next big project…i’ve got quite a few things brewing….they include working on another craft book and constructing large, movable characters (similar to the stuffed animal family in my book) for a stop motion and still photography project.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Crafters, Bakers and Cooks

Monday, December 7th, 2009

For the makers in your life, few gifts are more fun than brand new supplies. While I try to use recycled materials whenever possible, there are times when new materials are a necessity (or a really fun luxury). And these fine, fine items are a real joy.

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Thick, luscious hand-dyed felt from OhMa Felt! I found OhMa on the blog of felt crafter extraordinaire Kata Golda. They provide the felt she uses in her beautiful, whimsical felt treasures. So I ordered a “Winter Pale” Combo pack and was thrilled when I opened the package. Wrapped in brown tissue paper with a sweet letterpress tag was a stack of thick, subtle felt, the likes of which I had never *felt* before. Dense and soft, not a bit itchy, and in colors as lovely as can be, I became a fan instantly. And I’m certain your recipient will feel the fandom too.

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I have long adored Purl and Purl Patchwork. The two Soho shops have superb collections of delightful fabric and yarn in every price point, color, and material. And I took a wonderful hand quilting class with my mom at Purl Patchwork and loved the experience. So what could be better than a Purl gift certificate for your favorite knitter or seamstress/seamster? They can be used online or in the stores for all of the good things they sell, or for their classes. That’s a stitchy, knitty delight.

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Cupcake kits from Bake It Pretty are a dream gift for anyone who loves to make the sweetest kind of cakes. The kits come with a selection of baking cups and cake toppers, as well as a bag of multi-colored jimmies. And I love the fact that they instruct buyers to, “Please use the memo box below for special instructions such as: ‘this kit is for a boy or girl’, ‘go heavy on the pink please’, ‘no clown-stuff because they scare me’, etc.” Any baking site that recognizes the fear of clowns, even in cake topper form, is a website after my own heart. And be sure to browse around the whole Bake It Pretty site. There is so much fun stuff on there, you’ll want to forgo the gift giving and spend all of the money onacquiring good things for your cake decorating stash instead.

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Pick up a pack of exquisitely simple letterpress recipe cards from Moontree Letterpress for your most creative cook. Give them a pretty place to jot down the secret ingredients for all of their best dishes, and they’ll most certainly reward you with something tasty in return. I love the look of all things letterpress, and Moontree is one of my absolute, all-time favorite letterpress companies. Your culinary recipient is certain to fall sway to the pressed charm as well.

And if you’ve got some change to spare in your gifting budget, treat yourself to something new for your own craft closet or kitchen cupboard. In this time of holiday madness, it’s nice to treat yourself to something soft and sweet. I’m sure that you deserve it.

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