Whether you’re a casual crafter or a full time artisan, Marcie McGoldrick’s job can seem like a fantasy. As the Editorial Director for Holiday and Crafts at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Marcie develops new projects for Martha’s magazines and books and recently launched the new Crafts Dept. blog. We spoke with her about the day-to-day work at the Crafts Department, as well as their new, beautifully designed, thoroughly — tantalizingly — massive book, Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts. We hope you enjoy the inside scoop! We’ll be mailing out free copies of the book to the first 5 people who comment with their favorite craft technique below (special extra surprise Martha Stewart Crafts products to the first)!
From Marcie’s bio…
Name: Marcie McGoldrick
Job Title: Editorial Director, Crafts and Holiday
Date started at company: May, 1999
First story: Paper Bag Luminarias, Weddings, Fall 2002
Hometown: Oreland, Pa
Education: Pratt Institute (MID) Masters Industrial Design
First Job: Babysitter
Astrological sign: Virgo
Personal crafting/artwork: Ceramics, marciemcgoldrick.com
First craft memory: Not positive but I think it included pasta as beads
Things you collect: Eva Zeisel Dishes, Blown Glass
FAVORITE . . .
Color (Pantone): Pantone #185
Pizza topping: Mushrooms
Kind of Fabric: Linen
Source: Ceramic Supply of New York and New Jersey
Craft Disaster: Mold making mishap ended up having latex oozing out everywhere.
Here’s our Etsy interview with Marcie. Read on!
Since you’re the holidays editor at Martha Stewart, we have to ask: What’s the first holiday craft project you remember making as a little girl? Can you recommend any fun Easter themed or Mother’s Day projects to our readers?
I remember making wreath ornaments with crumbled shredded wheat, glue and red hots as embellishments/berries – I think that my Mom still has it and it makes an annual appearance on the tree. Dyeing eggs is also a pretty dominant memory – I think that my hands were rainbow colored for days after.
I recommend our Easter Web Workshop (March 23rd – April 11th) for Easter ideas. For Mother’s Day I recommend a handmade card – whether you make it yourself or buy it. I like the screen-printed cards from foxyandwinston. She has Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards that are pretty cute.
As far as gifts go, I always wanted to embroider my Mom a Mother’s Day gift – I will try to accomplish that this year.
Thanks for the advance copy of Encyclopedia of Crafts. I have to admit that before I got it I was anticipating it being about 10 inches thick! There’s something so satisfyingly ambitious about an encyclopedia. Can you tell us how and when the idea for the project first started?
You’re welcome – hope that you like it.
We started working on the book about a year and a half ago. It is an encyclopedia of techniques from A-Z. The book is structured so that you learn the basics of different craft techniques, as well as the tools and supplies involved. Then you get projects that incorporate what you have learned. It is really based on our history of crafts – so of course there are chapters on making wreaths, quilling, decoupage, soap making, botanical printing, paper punching pom-poms and more.
Which craft projects didn’t make the cut? Did you have to edit many things out? Any craft orphans out there that didn’t make it into the book but that you totally love?
That is a tough one – I think we are hoping that this is the first of many books – so hopefully we won’t have any orphans.
How did you choose the projects for the book? You were dipping into the impressively deep archive of MS magazines, right? Do you have a sense of which projects have been readers’ favorites over the years?
We identified the techniques first and then from there picked projects that were the most compelling – while trying to give a good range of skill and scale.
On Etsy, it’s inspiring to see all the creative variations on craft techniques spiraling off ad infinitum. Are you all over at MSLO keeping an eye out for how crafters are putting their own spin on projects from the book?
The reason that we structured the book by technique was so that people could learn the how-to and then incorporate that into their own projects – so I think that we will definitely be on the look out for some new twists. From time to time readers send us photos of their projects and it is always really fun to see what people do. If any of you are interested in sharing with us we would love to hear from you. Our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are heading up the new crafting blog, TheCraftsDept.MarthaStewart.com. Where did the idea for the blog start?
We thought that a blog would be a great way to share some of the other aspects of the craft department that don’t always make it onto the pages of the magazine — behind the scenes, inspiration, personal work etc. We also thought that it would be a great way to be a more active part of the crafting community as a whole. We are all pretty active as individuals but there is a different dynamic to the department as a group.
How many people work in the crafts department? What are their backgrounds? Do you all just know how to make everything or do people have their specialties?
There are seven of us in the Living craft department, and then there are four at the TV show, and six or so that work on Martha Stewart Crafts. All of the different areas will have a presence on the blog, so you really are getting all aspects of our craft world.
The crafters have pretty diverse backgrounds — you can’t go to college and major in crafts – if you could I probably would have. I have a Masters in Industrial Design, and we have sculpture majors, fashion and textile majors, fine art majors, and at one point we even had a lawyer.
What we all have in common is our passion for making things. We definitely have people specialize in some things like knitting, sewing, etc. but many times someone’s desire to learn a new craft is what makes it into a story. The specialties really come into play when you are in need of assistance when developing. It is really great to ask the person who gilded 200 ornaments for a Christmas tree if they have any helpful hints – chances are they do.
Can you describe your workspace a bit? Many crafters would consider this is sort of a crafting paradise! Can talk about how editors come up with ideas and test projects?
We just moved after being in the same space for 15 years. We did a major clean up and re-organization as part of the move – the first few blog entries talk a lot about our space and how it is organized. There are also quite a few photo galleries that give you a pretty good sense of the space. Our new workroom is really great: it is open and has windows along one whole side overlooking the Hudson. The reality for those who envision a meticulous spotless workroom is that, as organized as we try to be, with seven people working on a variety of projects at any given time, there is always an element of chaos. It is an inspiring chaos provided that you can still find what you need!
Our story ideas come from different places. Many of our Holiday stories are inspired by the vintage world; sometimes we want to put a modern twist on a traditional technique, and sometimes we are inspired by a material and want to explore its potential. When developing a story we really do try to come up with the best way to make each project with the best possible result. Sometimes it works out perfectly the first time (not very often) – sometimes it can take a while. For example, this past December there was an ornament story inspired by different types of china. We tried four different clays to find the one that was light, dried well and held the impression the best.
What happens to the craft test projects you make? Do you take them home, sell them, or give them away? It would be so cool to have a gallery of prototypes!
All of our craft projects are archived after they are shot. From time to time the stories get used for different events. A few years ago we had a large event at the piers in NYC – many of our old projects were brought out for people to see.
How do you find people for the television show or to contribute projects to the magazines and books? (I know this isn’t your department, but inquiring minds want to know!)
Yes – this isn’t my area of expertise. I do know that employees recommend many of the people. There have actually been a lot of Etsians that have been on the MARTHA show. Here are a few of them: Fog and Thistle, Paper Treats, The Black Apple, and forty-two roads. They were all kind enough to share how to make their projects. That is one thing that I love about crafters — that they are really open to sharing with others.
Do you have a favorite craft supply? Any new tools that you’ve discovered and fallen in love with?
I would have to say that tools are really my thing. It is great to have the right tools for the right project. Some of my favorite Martha Stewart Crafts tools are a cutting mat (a must), screw punch (really versatile), and bone folder.
Have you spotted any MS-inspired Etsy items in our marketplace? Any items jump out as using MS supplies?
I have seen a few things that look familiar, but sometimes it is hard to say exactly where the ideas come from. The shop papertreats is an Etsy shop that uses a lot of Martha Stewart Craft Supplies to make their products. They have some really cute stuff!
Everyone is so worried about the economy these days, and yet, there are signs that crafting — as a hobby and business — is still experiencing resurgence. Why do you think that is? Do you feel like handmade has a critical role to play in the world?
I think that handmade is experiencing resurgence for many reasons. For a while much of what was available in the mass marketplace was pretty cookie cutter.
As a reaction people seem to have more interest in things that feel special or are a better reflection of their own personal style. Making and buying things that are handmade is a great way to achieve this.
The current economy will only help to perpetuate this trend. There is so much value in learning a new craft or making something by hand. You have the experience itself, in addition to the end result or project. I know this sounds funny, but it is like the old adage: “Give the man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Sorry if that sounds corny, but in relation to crafts, I think it is kind of true.
If you’re local to the New York area, Martha will be doing a book signing at noon on April 3, 2009. Crafts Editorial Director Hannah Milman will be there to demo some projects too. Here are the details: Roosevelt Raceway Center, 1280 Corporate Dr, Westbury, NY 11590-6625
Be one of the first 5 people to comment below with your favorite craft technique and receive a copy of the Encyclopedia of Crafts (special extra surprise to the first commenter)!
You can find Marcie on Etsy as marciemcgoldrick. Check out some of Marcie’s favorites (and some of her own items) below…