The eleventh monkey wants to interview other crafty people on a weekly basis. And I thought it would only be fair for me to answer the eleventh monkey’s eleven questions first. To set an example, to show everyone the questions and to prove that it’s really not that scary to be interviewed by a monkey with a big microphone ;).
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a 30-year-old Dutchie, who’s always been obsessed with the States (I watched too much TV when I was a kid) and my dream to live in the States temporarily came true when I was in graduate school. For one semester, I attended Emory University's B-school in Atlanta, GA in 2004. I fully intended to find my dream-American-man there, instead I found my dream-Japanese-man there!
After our time at Emory he moved back to Japan and I moved back to Europe and we maintained a very long distance relationship for 3 years. In 2007, I finally moved to Japan to be with him, and start a new adventure teaching English to Japanese kids and adults. In 2009 we got married and last year we moved to San Francisco, where my husband is now in graduate school.
I have many hobbies. I love reading, watching movies, traveling, going to concerts, singing karaoke, blogging, taking pictures, learning Japanese, hanging out with friends, and most importantly being creative!
2. What do you make and how did you get into this?
I hand sew creatures (mostly animals) from felt and I give them buttons for eyes. Most of them look slightly awkward, but that’s just the way I like them.
In 2009, I visited an artsy neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. Crafty people were selling little handmade leather monsters in street stalls and I just loved the collection of colorful creations. It was there, that day, that I told my (future) husband “I’m going to design and make little creatures like these and sell them on the internet.” I kind of thought he would laugh at me, but instead he got excited and told me it was a great idea.
So when we got home I started drawing designs and started shopping around for supplies. I couldn’t find any think leather so I decided to work with felt instead. At the time, a coworker was about to leave Japan and I wanted to make him his favorite animal as a farewell gift. I had no idea how to sew yet, but one can learn just about anything online, these days. Several tries and weeks later I finished my first giraffe. I was so proud of myself! And my coworker loved it!
3. Why did you name your shop eleventh monkey?
When I started, the working title for my shop was Buttoneyes. But what if I ever wanted to use something else for eyes? I wanted a name that represented me, not my products, just in case I ever wanted to change my craft or materials. My Chinese zodiac sign is a monkey and I’m born on the 11th of August, so I just combined the two. I am the eleventh monkey. And I decided not to capitalize the name because I don’t like the way a capital ‘E’ looks... I know, I’m weird!
4. Where and when do you like to create?
We live in a very small apartment, and my old apartment in Japan was even smaller (I nicknamed it my shoebox), so unfortunately I’ve never had space for a proper studio. In Japan, I always used to bring a bag of supplies to Starbucks, order a coffee and spend hours sewing there. I’d get a lot of stares, but as a foreigner in Japan I was so used to being stared at, that it didn’t bother me at all. I loved sewing at Starbucks.
Now, in San Francisco, I don’t sew at Starbucks anymore, simply because it’s not a clean environment to sew in. Japan and Japanese Starbuckses are all so nice and clean, I never really realized how obsessed they are with cleanliness, and kind of took it for granted. So these days I just sew at home, but it’s okay, as we’re living on a student’s budget now and we can’t really afford Starbucks coffee on a daily basis anymore. All of my supplies are stored in two drawers and when I sew I make a huge mess on our table.
When do I like to create? All the time. Whenever I’m home and I’m not cleaning, cooking, sleeping, or showering, I’m sewing!
5. What inspires you?
Things I see around me, advertisements, cartoon images, materials for sale in craft stores, blogs, people’s accessories, colorful displays in shop windows and so on. I’m always taking pictures with my iPhone to remember all the inspiring things I’ve seen. I have so many ideas swimming around in my head and drawn in my sketchbook. I wish I had the time to bring all these ideas to life...
6. What’s the best thing you’ve ever made?
A couple of months ago, my sweet mother was in the hospital in the Netherlands, awaiting surgery on a tumor in her spinal cord. I was here in San Francisco and it was very difficult not be able to be with her to help her through such a difficult time. So I created ‘Louana the Second’, and send her home for my mom to hug whenever she needed my hug.
7. When you create what do you like to drink, snack on, listen to, or watch?
When I used to work at Starbucks in Japan, I loved to drink their coffee concoctions and tea lattes while sewing. Now I still drink coffee while sewing at home in the mornings, but most of the time I just drink water. I know, boring, but it just tastes so good, especially when you’re thirsty. I don’t really snack while sewing because I need to keep my fingers clean as I’m constantly touching the felt.
I’m always watching internet TV when I sew. I’m a big fan of true crime shows (my husband thinks it’s a creepy hobby), like ‘48 Hours’ and ‘Dateline’, and I love TV shows like ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Supernatural’.
8. What skill would you love to learn and who would you like to be your teacher?
There are many skills I’d love to learn! Graphic design, sewing with a machine, illustrating, cooking, web design, crocheting, working with photoshop, speaking Japanese, photography. But for now I would be satisfied to learn how to properly manage my time. I’m always overwhelmed by how little time I have and how quickly it passes by. And my teacher would be Elsie from A Beautiful Mess, I’m always amazed at the amount of work that girl gets done in no time at all. She’s a true inspiration.
9. What are you working on now and what are your goals for the future?
I’m working on my first PDF pattern! I’ve been wanting to make one forever, but working on the computer always takes up so much time and my sewing keeps distracting me. But my physical therapist urged me to take a little break from sewing because it’s given me a tennis elbow and thumb tendinitis... I sew too much and too intensely, apparently. So, I’m hoping to finish a PDF pattern during this sewing break.
Goals for the future? Someday I hope to be able to generate some kind of income with eleventh monkey and turn this dream hobby into a dream job.
10. What are your five favorite websites?
Bloglovin': There are so many inspirational blogs I love to read. This website allows me to check all their updates from one well-organized place. So I don’t have to check each individual blog for updates, saving me a lot of time.
Eyes for Lies: This woman is amazing, she is a human lie detector and her evaluation of criminal cases and its suspects are fascinating. She also once read my face from a few pictures and made dozens of correct statements about my personality that just astonished me!
Facebook: I’m really bad at keeping in touch via email, it takes so much time and I procrastinate too much. On facebook I can easily keep in touch with friends from all over the world at the same time! I love it!
Flickr: I love taking pictures, and saving all my memories in one place on the web. Flickr is really great for that. It’s also a great website to find inspiration!
Hulu: Now that I live in the States, I can use this website to watch full episodes of American TV shows and even full movies. It’s great because we don’t own a TV and I always watch videos on this website when I’m sewing.
11. Where can we find you online?