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Breakfast with Lori

We’re off to Portland, Oregon, this week for “Breakfast” with Lori Wahl: apparel designer, blogger, and mother of two. Lori is also a friend of Bec Thomas‘s. (There sure is a lot of creative mo-jo in the northwest corner of the US! What do you guys have going on up there??)

loriCC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family headcount.
I am a married, 38-year-old mother of two — Elsie, 6 years old, and Ewan, 2 years old. I am a freelance apparel designer working for various clients who need design and product development work. My sister and I own a children’s apparel company called Mister Judy. We are still trying to get it off the ground, but will not be able to devote a lot of time to it until all children (hers and mine) are in school. I also teach a couple of web-based classes at the University of Idaho for the Clothing, Textile, and Design degree program.

CC: Tell us about your design work and your other creative endeavors.
LW: The Mister Judy line is a lot of fun since both my sister and img_2927I like kids’ clothing with a retro vibe. We do a more subtle retro feel…and really look for good prints to use. I love to knit…and now with winter coming I have more projects planned. I sew as well….and then every once in a while I get the urge to redecorate a room…and out comes all the magazines and design books that I hoard.

[At left: Here is one of my Christmas projects…leg warmers for all the little dancers in my life.]

CC: What prompted you to start a blog? What keeps you going?
LW: I started my blog as a way to foster my creativity. I saw so many bloggers regularly doing crafty things and posting them that I thought a blog would help me to more creative things on a regular basis. img_1196Unfortunately I don’t always have a creative post, but when I do post something that I’ve made or seen, I receive great comments from my friends and readers. It’s my regular readers that keep me posting regularly. Early on I participated in some online craft exchanges. You had to have a blog to participate as a way to learn about one another. I have made some really great on line friends through blogging.

[Above right: I knitted these mitts last year.]

CC: Do you find that your blog keeps you “honest” creatively? Meaning that you have a place to state your intentions — and that you need to keep producing work in order to have something creative to blog about?
Yes, the blog does keep me on track. If I announce that I’m going to do something, I will follow through. Sometimes not on the original timelines, but eventually I will finish the announced work and post it.

studio-spaceCC: Where do you do your creative work?
I have a studio in the basement. I needed my own space for my freelance work, but also a place to leave a project-in-process out while it was in-process. For some reason, if I put a project away, it never sees the light of day again and therefore does not become complete.

CC: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
I wish I did have a regularly scheduled block of time for creativity. I fault myself for that. It is my own time-management issue. It is an excellent idea to have a regularly scheduled time and gives you something to look forward to. But I do get inspired at odd times and want to jump into a project.

CC: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
Motherhood has definitely reduced my creative time. There are no more days of staying in my pajamas drinking mimosas for breakfast and sewing all day long. I sort of have to cram it in where it fits. My 6-year-old is old enough to participate or to occupy herself while I’m working. My 2-year-old is not quite there yet, so I have to have an elaborate distraction strategy planned. OR I work while the 6-year-old is at school and the 2-year-old is napping OR at night…but by the time night rolls around, I usually tuck myself in on the couch for some knitting rather than heading to the basement for sewing. This goes back to the time-management point above. I feel like I am still creative, but my output has been greatly reduced after having children.

CC: What do you struggle with most?
I struggle most with work/life/creativity balance. My spouse is unemployed and has been for the past year, so I need to work to pay the bills. He has been taking care of the kids when I am busy with freelance work and teaching, but he also needs time for job hunting/networking. The creativity gets shoved to the bottom of the list sometimes.

vintage-inspirationCC: Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from many different places…from other people’s blogs, from my stash of vintage clothing, magazines, a trip to Anthropologie, or just general web surfing. When I was working full time, I bought a LOT of books, so I have an amazing design library to reference when I need an injection of creativity.

[Above right: A vintage scrapbook put together for my grandmother when she was a young girl. Her aunties that lived in Victoria, BC made it for her.]

CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?

… and there are more that I check regularly.

CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
My greatest indulgence is jewelry from Michal Negrin jewelry, home decor, fashion items…although I’m going to have to cut back for a bit.

"My vintage enamel pins sort of look like embroidery."CC: What are you reading right now?
I’m partway through Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things.

CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
Find creativity in places that you wouldn’t expect it. I may not get to sit down and make a new stuffed animal or new garment or even get those prints framed, but I can sit and build fairies with my daughter, Elsie. It is creative and imaginative and I get to spend time with Elsie….and then, of course, we come up with a long list of other items we need to create as accessories for our fairies.

[Above left: My vintage enamel pins…it kind of looks like an embroidery…]

CC: Thank you, Lori!

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hey Lori!

    December 5, 2008
  2. Liz #

    I have always wanted to learn how to sew & knit (my mom is good at both) and one look at your neat-o workspace makes me want to start! Of course I have no business near that type of equipment, but you had me at “Sipping mimosas all morning in my pajamas and sewing.”

    It just sounds like fun.

    December 5, 2008
  3. cathy #

    ok, from your pic, my main q is, how do you look so rested and put together with a 2 yr old?!

    otherwise, your space is enviable and i love the retro pins, etc. i used to love fishing through my mother’s old jewelry boxes in her closet for those enamelled pins and shoe accessories. in fact i was just talking w/my mil about making enamelled pins for gifts for the season…now how do i start?

    December 5, 2008
  4. very nice to meet you lori! and i echo the “neat-o” workshop space. did you clean that up just for us or is it always that neat and tidy!!?? my workshop is typically a distaster area. 🙂

    December 8, 2008
  5. Hey Bec!
    Answers to questions:
    The photo of me is low-resolution which hides the baggy, not-so-rested eyes due to the 2-year old.
    I do not know how to make enamel pins, but I enjoy collecting them. I do know it involves a lot of heat.
    Yes, I did clean up my workspace for that photo… since it is usually in complete disarray and full of piles… I’m a piler not a filer.
    Thanks for all the kind comments!

    December 8, 2008
  6. cathy #

    hah! my q as to how to start was a rhetorical musing…

    December 8, 2008
  7. cathy… I thought that was the case right after I hit “Submit Comment”. So much for efficiency…. lol

    December 11, 2008
  8. cathy #

    ‘sok, if i were more efficient, i may have started seasonal anything yet! still musing about getting decorations out of attic for 2 weeks!

    December 12, 2008

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