It's a well known fact that if you are looking at a blog that has anything to do with creativity and family life, you are never more than 2 blogroll clicks of separation from Angry Chicken. Amy Karol is one of the Pacific Northwest godmothers of blogging, and with good reason. Not only is she talented, funny, and smart, but when she writes about her family and their creative endeavors, you never get the feeling that she's trying to create a glossy facade of perfection. She shows us warmth and reality, and whether she's writing about soup, fold-over-elastic, handmade gifts, or a pair of shoes that's making her feel "wanty", you'll click away from her blog feeling like you've just read a letter from an old friend.
We're elated that Amy is joining our Big Blog Family. Even if you've been a fan since she first started blogging in '05, we hope that you'll learn something new about her today. Click on down for the interview!
Name: Amy Karol
Location: Portland, Oregon
Website: Angry Chicken
Kids: Sadie Pearl (8), Delia Jean (6), Lydia Rose (3.5)
When you first started blogging back in early '05, what other blogs were out there that inspired you? I read Not Martha before even knowing what blogs were, and then over a year later found Wee Wonderfuls and Loobylu. Then, within I think about 6 months after starting my blog, it seemed 1000s of craft blogs started, and it seemed many of them were from fellow Portlanders, which was really cool. It was a crazy, amazing time. I know it's cliche to say "I miss the early days when everyone was so excited and we didn't know what we were doing, making it up as we went. . ." but it's true. There was an incredible amount of passion and energy back then, it was fast and furious. There was no branding, no advertising—there is passion now, don't get me wrong, it's just different. Many craft blogs are much more slick and professional than they were 5 years ago. Not too many crafters showing a failed craft project with cat hair stuck on it, you know? And with so many beloved magazines folding, craft and design bloggers have taken the lead, and have a huge advantage in many ways to magazines and newspapers. The publishing world is a whole different animal now than when I started blogging.
Has your aesthetic evolved since you started? Blogging? Yes, just as it always has with anything creative I do. I get influenced by new things, distracted by others. Some things are a constant with me and sometimes I get enamored with something and then quickly move on. I think that folk art will always be a huge influence for me. I just keep looking back on my old needlecraft books. Folk-style craft with an almost tribal bent is where I always seem to end up. Also, 1930s-1950s fashion and textile design is a huge part of my world and a constant source of inspiration for me.
Bend-the-Rules Sewing has been so wildly successful. What do you think of the whole book publishing process? Is it hard to keep the professional/family balance in check when you're working on a book? Well, the book publishing process has definitely changed since I have been doing this professional crafting thing. But I really like it. I miss working with people, which I stopped doing in many ways when I started having babies and stayed at home to take care of them, so that was really a nice change. But then again, working for yourself, and controlling deadlines always has its merits, especially when you have little babies/pregnancies and all that to contend with. I think for our family during the writing time of both of my books, there was a pretty intense work-around-the-clock time and then a time to chill. It reminded me of my years in architecture school (but add babies to that mix) but instead of five years, it was only 6 months of design/work time. It's very hard to balance it with family, but knowing the deadline has an ending made it more manageable.
Back in the 80s, there was a popular notion that the ideal woman wore a power suit and dominated the corporate boardroom. She didn't do much quilting or preserving. It took women a while to feel comfortable reclaiming those parts of traditional domesticity. Do you think Angry Chicken has played a role in the trend of celebrating the home again? Hmm. Well, not really. I mean the trend was there before I was on the scene, right? I think Martha is the one who got it all back into the popular culture. I think there was a renewed interest in handmade crafts and domestic arts and she was able to give us all a way to do that with an aesthetic that was very cool, not goofy and full of freaky macrame, which was what the majority of craft books and magazines had to offer in the 80s.
I think (I hope) Angry Chicken is more about celebrating life and creative/artistic energy in general, not limited to domestic arts and being a mom. I love crafts, but also nature and art and living creatively, with a big dash of absurd humor and silliness mixed. A good friend told me once that if I ever wanted to change my blog name, it should be called "sh*t I'm into" and I thought it summed up my blog very well.
What sorts of projects are lighting your creative fire right now? This might sound funny, but I am always surprised at how my sewing just keeps me excited. I mean, duh, right? But really, I just love sewing as a way to express my designs and the designs of my kids. So that has been really fun, as they grow, to continue to sew for them and myself as well. But we also as a family homeschool our 3 girls, so my creative energy is often in some crazy places, building castles, making masks, blowing stuff up, trying to rig a fort, making a moon cake—you name it. It's loads of fun, often with some unexpected moments of triumph and disaster, but usually no one gets hurt. Really, as creative energy goes, it's hard to beat this homeschooling gig.
But more specifically, I would LOVE to design a fabric line, write another craft/sewing book, make a film, record an album, illustrate a graphic novel, and finish this sweater I have been knitting for two years. You know, that kind of stuff.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us, Amy!
(Images: Amy Karol)