Alison Kaplan of Kata Golda is the kind of person you want in your life…and not just because she makes the cutest little felt wool creatures ever. This lady is all kinds of awesome.
Once day during lunch we forced her to tell us all about her awesome home in Washington and what it’s like to spend all day making adorable felt softies. And now we are sharing it with you. Enjoy!
Where do you live?
Port Townsend, Washington. It’s at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula and it’s about two hours from Seattle.
Do you have any adorable pets/kids/life partners we should know about?
I have an adorable daughter who’s 15. She’s a classical pianist, and she’s in a rock band, and she’s a mountain biker. Her name is Odette.
My partner Frank loves the outdoors and photography.
I also have my annoying cat Molly (we call her Ol’ Moll), who likes to climb on top of everything I’m working on. We also have a sweet black lab named Ronin.
How (and when) did you get into making these adorable woodland creatures?
So, I was trained as a bookbinder, but when my friend Tracy and I got pregnant at the same time, I started making these little wool felt toys for our babies and people liked them. So suddenly I was making them for my friends’ kids. And then for their friends. And then for their friends. And that’s when I decided that it was time for me to start selling them.
I put a little felt patch with my daughter’s name on a photo album and that’s when Kata Golda was born. I was at a tradeshow a while later, and was trying to think of how I could pull people into my booth using my display and I had the idea to make little 3D rabbits (this was extremely last minute). That was what got me really into making felt animals.
This all comes really easy to me, but I like to challenge myself. I give myself assignments to work with colors I don’t like and new materials. And making 3-dimensional animals is hard for me since I draw things out fairly flat and childlike.
All sorts of people — even non-crafty adults — should do it too! Felt is such a fantastic material for quickly making things and finger puppets are the perfect place to play around.
What’s the toughest part?
The toughest part for me is being content with what I’ve made. As I get older, I get more critical. That’s why I’m working with a lot of fabric now instead of felt; I”m challenging myself and branching out.
What advice would you give beginners?
If you don’t like what you’ve made at first…try it again. I guarantee that if you’ve made 10 versions of something, you’re going to really like one of them.
And don’t be afraid! You’re not going to ruin anything. You can rip out stitches and start over. Great things happen from mistakes.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Or a hike.
Or a run in the woods.
And I sprinkle in a little city too. I love San Francisco, Portland, and New York. My inspiration comes mainly from plant life, but also headspace of being outside and doing something, like working on a farm or backpacking. And if I ever feel overwhelmed, I take great comfort in my cat and dog.
My day is naturally punctuated by taking care of my family; I like to cook, can, and bake bread. It makes for a great thinking space. And lastly: I always keep a notebook on my so I can capture ideas.
How do you make time to do everything?
Because I’m anal and crazy and I don’t sleep. (laughs) It’s compulsive — I always have to be doing something. And as I do things that inspire…things happen.
I also insist on cleaning up at the end of each day. Even if I don’t put everything away, I make sure things are sorted and neat. It all has to be just so.
And I just don’t put things off. If a patch of the garden has to be weeded, I’ll weed it. I don’t structure things to the minute; I always give myself extra time to accomplish things because being overwhelmed puts me in a head spin.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
My real love will always be wool felt. There’s no hemming required, there’s no grain, and it’s so easy to quickly make a project.
I come from a family of knitters, and I love natural fibers: hemp, canvas. I don’t really like silky fabrics.
What is your most favorite thing you’ve ever made?
I’d have to say an old felt bag. At this point, it’s basically become an art piece. It’s been patched and shrunk and beat up. Handles have been replaced. It reminds me so much of my life. It’s not usable any more, but I’ll always have it.
Oh, and I LOVE bags.
Be honest – how much fun is it to film these Creativebug classes…or at least get to hang out in SF for a while?
It’s the highlight of my life. My work is pretty solitary, so all the prep for a class makes me think about how I do things. I love sharing things, and I really love all the honest feedback I get. When you’re collaborating on something — like a video or a book — everyone wants the very best and it’s an awesome experience.
Best and worst parts of filming a class:
Best: I love the process and getting a chance to work with everyone. Really.
Worst: I’m always a little nervous in the beginning, and I hate bragging about myself. I’m fine when I’m explaining a technique…but it’s just me talking about me I get a little stiff.
Do you like being in front of the camera?
I don’t mind it, and I rarely even think about the camera.
Okay, last question. Where can we stalk you online?
My website (I send out a monthly newsletter too)