I am probably not alone in proclaiming my love for The Crafty Crow, that amazing resource for creative inspiration for all ages. It's one of those spots on the internet that always gets my creative juices flowing. I have been a long time follower of Cassi and her craftiness, but I realized recently that I don't know all that much about her personal interests since she does such a good job of seeking out and highlighting others' creative endeavours. Cassi is the perfect person to highlight during our Earth Week celebration since she does such a spectatular job of inspiring, motivating, and celebrating the beauty of creating with natural or recyled items. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Cassi as much as I have. Please join me in welcoming her to The Magnifying Glass.
Welcome to The Magnifying Glass, Cassi! Have you always been a crafter? If so, what were some of your favorite crafting experiences as a child?
I’ve enjoyed making things for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my sister and I would build tree houses, make little pots from clay we found by the creek, invent our own recipes, sew doll clothes and other stuff like that. I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series and I loved imagining living in those times and having to make do with the resources you had around you. My mother and grandmothers were a big influence as well and very talented in their own rights; that’s how I learned to sew, crochet, and the fine art of flea market treasure hunting!
Did the name for your site come from a love of crows or was it merely an acknowledgment of their reputation for being “crafty” and clever? In addition to crows, what other critters are your favorites?
I do love crows, the whole crow family, so, ravens, and magpies too; they’re clever and have the capacity to talk. I’m always hoping that I’ll meet a crow that actually speaks to me instead of just cawing! Crows were definitely part of the inspiration for The Crafty Crow name. I played with a few other combinations but I kept coming back to The Crafty Crow and my family liked it too so that’s what I went with. My kids and I love all kinds of animals and we have many pets: dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, a horse, and a bunny. I’m lucky to live in an area where we see wild animals all the time. I only live a few blocks from town but one year we had a baby moose walk down our street and peek into windows and another year we had a mountain lion make a winter nest near the river at the end of our street. We regularly see elk and deer and one of my favorites, fox! I also love owls, squirrels, groundhogs and raccoons. I’ve only seen a wolf one time but I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll see one again.
I have always admired and enjoyed the fact that you highlight many crafts on The Crafty Crow that make use of recycled objects or items found in nature. Can you tell us more about that passion? Any suggestions on how to inspire others to collect and re-use in creative ways?
I really enjoy the creative challenge of crafting with natural and recycled materials and also love seeing all the amazing things that other people come up with. As with anything, the more of a challenge something is the more rewarding it is too, so crafting with nature and recycled goods has this extra little bonus to it. There’s a ton of visual inspiration on craft and design blogs and that’s a great way to jump start some ideas. You can also just challenge your kids with a pile of recyclables or natural materials and see what they can make. Before you head out to buy craft supplies take a look at your recycling box or garage or closet. Many times newspaper can be substituted for paper, plastic and glass can be used to hold supplies and water as well as decorate, old clothing can be used for the fabric and buttons, wool sweaters can be felted, boxes can be cut apart and used for cardboard, plastic containers can be cut up and decorated and some of them used for shrink plastic crafts; there are also lots of craft ideas for cardboard tubes, magazines, and egg cartons. Start looking at things differently and ask yourself what you might be able to do with it before you throw it out. I have to add in, too, that thrift shops should definitely be the first stop when buying craft materials. You can always find crayons, scissors, fabric, yarn, paper goods, and wood items and maybe a surprise or two also.
When you take a break from the craft table and your Crafty Crow responsibilities, how do you re-charge?
Drawing, watercolors, embroidery and crochet are very relaxing for me. A favorite outside past time is hunting for rocks by the river, any pretty rocks that catch my eye but especially heart-shaped ones. I love to read and always have more books than I have time for. Right now I’m reading The Six Wives of Henry VIII (Alison Weir) and The Autobiography of King Henry VIII (Margaret George) - enjoying the balance between fact and fiction. Sleeping is not too bad either ;)
Does your family have any special traditions or plans to celebrate Earth Day?
Our town usually plans a massive clean-up day that we participate in - they even have prizes for the most unusual things that are found. We’ll work in our yard if the weather is decent and get the flower beds cleaned out and start some vegetables in pots. We still have snow on the ground and low temperatures, but as soon as it warms up we’ll spend a lot of time going on hikes and hanging out at the rivers and lakes nearby.
And speaking of the Earth…what are some of your favorite wild places on Earth? Or places you hope to explore one day?
Yellowstone is one of the most recent places I’ve been and the hot springs with their colorful mineral deposits are fascinating and beautiful. My best memories are the wide, warm creeks of North Texas, hunting for fossils and crawdads. Some of my other favorite places are Hawaii, the Greek islands, Bali, and Japan. One day I’d love to take the kids to the Grand Canyon because you just can’t put into words how truly awesome it is. But, as much as any place, I enjoy living right where we are having picnics by the river and hunting for rocks.
Cassi, Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your love of nature, especially all of those animals (both pets and wild visitors!). I really loved your thoughts on how to encourage creative re-use of natural and recycled items. You are so right about about that extra boost of excitement and pride that comes with transforming an everyday item into something unique and beautiful. I also want to say that I love your watercolors...so beautiful. Happy Earth Day to you and your family!
Check back here tomorrow because Cassi has generously put together a round-up post with some of her favorite Earthy crafts to share on The Magnifying Glass. And to get a daily dose of creative inspiration be sure to visit The Crafty Crow, The Crafty Crow Italia, The Crafty Crow Flickr group and Bella Dia (Cassi's personal blog).