...and crafters are lucky to have Nancy. Nancy
Ward has the crafting world covered. Visit almost any of the thousands
of great craft blogs on the Internet, and you are likely to find a
familiar note left by Nancy: "I posted an entry on my blog with a link
to you... OK to do that?" It is more than OK - it is a veritable stamp
of approval from one of the most influential bloggers on crafting,
stamping, materials, and all things creative. By her own admission, she
is an obsessive crafter with decades of professional experience. Take a
look at any Nancy Ward publications or her daily blog, and you will
appreciate the depth of her expertise and her desire to teach. Perhaps
most representative of both is her essential reference book, "The
Complete Guide to Glues and Adhesives", written with Tammy Young. In
one volume, it is a descriptive guide to all types of adhesive
products, an instruction manual for dozens of ingenious craft
techniques and materials, and a trove of over 30 creative craft
projects. Her other books, "Stamping Made Easy" and "Fabric Painting
Made Easy" take the same generous approach to their subjects.
We discovered Nancy through her blog, PaperFriendly
and that is exactly what we found - a friend.
Describing herself, she
wrote, "I spend a good part of every day playing...coloring, cutting,
slicing, dicing, gluing this to that, slapping either paint or ink
hither and yon, stitching anything a needle will go through, rolling
out clay...the fun never stops. I'm a lucky gal." When we talked to
in February of 2009, our questions revolved around her remarkable
You have to be seriously into glue to write 144 pages about it. How did
the subject of "sticking things together" first come to you and how did
the book get written?
called me in early fall, 1999, to ask if I would be interested in
co-authoring a revision of her 1995 book, "The Crafter’s Guide To
Glues", due to her publisher in six months. I did some
research and felt that a mere revision wouldn't be adequate; there had
been tremendous changes in the ‘sticky’ business since Tammy had
written her book, and I didn't think the manuscript could be ready
end of 2000. With Tammy becoming more involved in her other activities,
it was apparent that I would be researching and writing the book, and
Publications agreed to extend the deadline.
"2000 was a very busy year for me! I was fortunate in finding two
chemists who led me through the maze of the chemistry of
adhesives. I'm still a couple of graduate degrees in
chemistry away from understanding adhesives, but I am somewhat better
informed than I was when I started the book. "The Complete Guide to
Glues and Adhesives" was released at the HIA conference (Hobby
Industry Association, now CHA, Craft and Hobby Association) in January
Complete Guide to Glues and Adhesives", you featured craft projects by
18 professional designers. How did you come to select these designers
and their projects, and how did you collaborate with them?
knew almost every artist who contributed creations for the
book, or I'd seen their work if I did not know
them. I asked each
artist to do a creation in their area of expertise, but I did not
specifically tell them what I expected them to create. When
they decided what they wanted to do, they told me, and I don’t recall
asking anyone to offer another suggestion. They all were selected
because I knew each of them would create an original piece that would
be of the highest level."
VIC: In the
beginning of your book, you write that the project's materials and
usage will determine which adhesive to use. We, on the other side,
found ourselves intrigued by the crafting potential of each adhesive
and started creating projects to exploit it. How would you advise
crafters to use your book for inspiration?
"When I said
that the project dictated the type of products selected, I meant that
each product has suitable uses. It's not wise to select a product that
would not suit the intended use of the project. For example,
using a natural adhesive on clothing that would be laundered
- the adhesive would wash out. A solvent-based adhesive must
be used as
directed on the container. Many can only be used on non-porous
surfaces. Rubber cement is not intended for photographs. Acrylic-based
adhesives can be substituted for a PVA, in almost every case, although
a PVA often cannot be substituted for an acrylic-based adhesive.
"On the other hand, I encourage readers to explore new uses for a
product. There is one rule that must be followed whenever the rules are
bent: the results must be tested, retested, and then tested again to
ensure that the results will be consistent. I have a reputation of
pushing products beyond their limits, but I always notify a company to
explain what I have done and ask if they object to my publishing the
technique. My 'testing-fetish' is well-known with many companies, so I
usually get their OK."
"Stamping Made Easy" covers the basics, and then quickly moves from
paper stamping to every surface imaginable: fabric, wood, plastic, clay
and even frosting, rocks and faces. How do you continue to expand your
"When I started the research for "Stamping Made Easy, " I didn't
understand why people weren't stamping on all that stuff. I even had
stamp companies tell me I could not stamp on some of the substrates
used for projects in the book. I think the line I used in the book was,
'As long as it's not moving too fast, or it's not too furry, you can
stamp on it.' And because that’s true, stamping is unlimited. The
opportunities offered by the types of inks now on the market extend the
creative options of stamping.
"I guess I expand my repertoire by just fiddling all the time! I love
figuring out how to do stuff, how to use stuff, why something works, or
doesn't work, and how to do something differently. I can’t imagine not
doing that. I do think that my background in patchwork and quilting
contributes greatly to my 'questioning' attitude. I started in fabric;
I still think as a fabric person. When you get right down to it, paper
and fabric are similar in many ways (least they are to me!). Porous is
porous is porous."
VIC: We are
DIY crafters - making the supplies is half the fun. Can you talk a
little about your own experiences making your own stamps, inks and
"The book I
should write is, "What Won’t Work!" I can tell you a bazillion ideas
that didn't fly. The good news is those goofs led me to something that
did work. I've dabbled in just about every craft activity there is, and
each one has taught me something I could use. I have fiddled with
making my own ink (fabric dye was the basis for one); carved stamps;
used anything clear I could grab as a substitute for an acrylic block
before those blocks were available; used a tuna fish can on a mug
warmer for a substitute Hot Pot; used an old, beat-up electric fry pan
for a 'craft' oven…you name it, and I’m sure I've tried out some
harebrained idea relating to the topic. But the questions I
always ask myself …is this better, quicker, easier or less expensive?
One no puts that idea in jeopardy. Two will put it back in the box."
VIC: The forward to you stamping book states "...a stamp exists
somewhere for every whim." What kinds of stamp designs should be the
basic tool kit for beginning stampers?
"I think each
of us has to use images we like…and accept that what we like now may
not be the images (or colors, or outlines) we favor tomorrow, or next
week, or next year. I wouldn't recommend that a beginner start
with Thomas Kinkade images or photo stamps; intricate and detailed
images take a bit of practice before the results are satisfactory. But
there are all sorts of great images out there that aren't detailed and
confess that you can't draw a thing - but you make great choices when
selecting stamps, vintage images, clip art or other designs. Tell us
about your design
sense and how you think you developed it over the years?
"I haven’t a
clue as to why I pick the stuff I do. I know what I like, and I don’t
question that feeling. Sounds silly, but I have an idea that
if I started to wonder why, I’d get confused! There’s no question that
some of the things I liked years ago aren't high on my list anymore.
But I don’t know if that's an age thing or a learning process.
"I do think it's important that we allow ourselves to be content with
what we like, what we create, and the way we create. As soon as we
start trying to please someone else, things start getting muddled. The
creative process is too personal to give control of it away."
"Fabric Painting Made Easy" is about far more than simply painting
fabric, and gets into dyeing, appliques, maintaining fabric, and
with many other flexible surfaces. What new techniques and products
would you include in a new edition of this book?
"You should have seen the hundreds of words that were deleted from the
manuscript! We literally deleted an entire book. I do have a
problem of wanting to tell everyone everything about a topic…a big
problem. As far as new techniques and products for a new edition, I’ll
have to give that some thought!"
You have a reputation for saving and recycling everything, including
test strips of paint, old pantyhose, containers, egg cartons, and all
things plastic. On top of that, if you have half of the products you've
tested, you must live in a warehouse. Tell us about your workspace and
how you organize your crafting supplies.
"Not really a warehouse, just looks like one! I have two
workrooms: paper and fabric, and both rooms are blessed with Iris carts
and bookcases. I
do know where everything is! I have
a compartmentalized mind, so it’s easy for me to decide the hows and
of keeping like stuff with like stuff and remember where those places
supplies to the area schools and to a home for troubled teen-age girls.
I give my creations away, so I don’t have those cluttering up the
place. I sell stuff from time to time on my blog. I’m about to do a
major clean out, so I’ll be reducing the stash in the next couple
Your blog is on top of so many trends and happenings in the crafting
world. How do you do it? What are the rewards? What would you like to
tackle in the future - more books?
"I do make a serious attempt to stay abreast of what’s happening, and
when certain cycles are up (or down)…maybe that’s why my guesses are
sometimes correct…maybe! No question, things have changed greatly in
the past few years, and I've had to rearrange my thinking during that
time. Some changes I like; some change I’m not too happy about. As far
as rewards, I guess I’m like all teachers... we love to babble on and
on about what we think we know. I’m a research freak, so finding items
and facts on the Internet is great fun for me.
"As to the future, don’t know for sure. There are a couple of books I’d
like to write, my blog takes a bit of time, I do have to get my hands
icky every day, and sew a stitch or two. Too many good things to do…too
Ward's books are available from bookstores,
stores, and at Amazon.com
and other online retailers. Learn more about Nancy's experience,
wisdom, and "joie de crafting" at PaperFriendly!