Lindsey Campbell has a passion for craft and its transformative power to change lives for the better. She balances teaching weaving to others via online classes, writing instructional and inspiring books, creating her own work, running her Hello Hydrangea brand and caring for her family. Buckle up and try to keep up as we learn what inspires and motivates this fiber artist.
Not many people take a blog they started in college and turn it into a sustaining enterprise. Was that the plan? How did you make that happen? What do you hope visitors will gain by visiting?
I started Hello Hydrangea during college as an Advertising major and Fine Arts minor. I grew up ‘unschooled’ so I was use to being self-motivated and choosing what I wanted to focus my passion and learning on. Hello Hydrangea was an outlet to explore my own creative projects outside of school and have a small way of being accountable to finish them.
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I continued the blog on and off for almost 5 years, through finishing college and starting a career as a marketing designer, graphic designer and photographer in fashion. When I began weaving it was still very new and unknown and there were NO online tutorials, except my blog. After a few years of weaving on the side, my pieces were selling out faster than I could keep up and I was answering emails from people all over the world about how they could learn to weave.
When I had my son I had the choice to either keep working, or stay at home. I decided to jump into Hello Hydrangea full time and I had no idea what it would become. I guess I never had big plans for my blog. It was more of a personal project, but my background in advertising spurred me to try and use it to connect and market with a bigger audience.
I’ve always felt that creativity is an important part of self care, and I think my audience resonates with that message, so they’ve joined my crafting community and I couldn’t be happier! I want people from all backgrounds to feel like they can be creative, even with their limited time. And I make that happen by doing the legwork of research and testing and then create online classes that get my students straight to the creative process.
I think everyone is an artist in one way or another, and making things with your hands is magic!
The house I grew up in had a huge hydrangea, as does my current home. So I must ask, why “Hello Hydrangea”?
I started Hello Hydrangea as a personal craft blog in 2011 during college, back when blogs were the cool new thing to do. I was taking a floral design class at the time with a friend, and we were making lists of names for the blog. Somehow Hello Hydrangea made its way into the mix, along with names like ‘Pearl Sandwich’ and ‘Honey Pepper’, haha! The blog stuck, and so the name stuck, even though it has nothing to do with weaving or crafts!
What inspires your woven pieces? Are they based on a real-life-something, or do they spring entirely from your imagination?
I’ve been a graphic designer for years, so I think I approach my pieces the same way. I never create designs that mimic anything in real life – they are bold, abstract designs focused more on the techniques and the materials. I like to imagine where they might be hung and how they can make an impact in the space, no matter what size they are.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your books, especially your new title, Welcome to Weaving: the Modern Guide?
I want readers to feel inspired by the vast techniques that have been practiced in weaving for thousands of years, around the world. Every time I sit down at the loom I learn something new!
When I originally created the outline for the book and turned in all of the material my publishers, Schiffer Publishing, actually came back with a problem: I had included TOO MUCH. Haha, I guess I could write about weaving forever! They proposed a wonderful alternative to cutting the book in half – instead we could turn it into two books. I absolutely love that because techniques and ideas are the source of so much of my inspiration and I don’t want my book to be limited.
I want readers to have so many ideas available that they can’t help but create and weave. The first book is beginning techniques and the second is advanced techniques, so together they will make a cohesive reference to weaving possibilities.
How do you balance the business side, the teaching side and the making side of Hello Hydrangea?
Hello Hydrangea consists of three focuses: making projects for clients and my own inspiration, teaching online classes and in-person workshops, and business, even though it’s definitely a behind-the-scenes aspect of the brand. I follow a balance of waves through each focus. I try to have a minimal to-do-list each week so that I don’t feel overwhelmed or underproductive (I’m also a full-time mom) but I move through each focus in a week. It all has to happen! My husband is in business, so he helps a ton with the no-so-glamorous side of the job.
What does your studio look like? Where does the magic happen?
My studio is a small room in our home, next to my son’s room. We live in San Jose where housing is old, small and expensive, so even though my studio is small, it’s my happy place and where I get everything done.
I have a studio tour on my blog. Also, I have an office where I go to edit classes, answer emails and work on marketing. I like to keep the making separate from the business so that it’s easier to stay focused on the two separate aspects of Hello Hydrangea.
Do you have daily creative rituals in your studio?
I am horrible at habits. Thanks to my ‘unschooled’ upbringing, I think! Habits and rituals make me feel confined and helpless. I have a list of to-do’s each week, but I don’t dictate where my creativity will lead day by day.
I let whatever feels right happen. So I might feel like filming, exploring a new medium, organizing yarn, editing… whatever I’m drawn to that day. It’s important for my own creative cup to have unstructured creative time so that i don’t get burned out.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
My shelves organize my yarn so that it’s front and center – materials are something that inspire me the most, so I can’t help but be creative in my studio space when everything is on display. I used to have yarn in buckets in a closet, but I love the open shelves so much more.
I also have some photography lights that help me with filming and photographing on foggy, rainy days. There are a lot of these kinds of days in the Bay Area, so my studio lights are indispensable to being to get work done when I feel like it, not just when the sun is out. I can even film at night, which has been a game changer!
What is your favorite lesser-known tool for your trade? Have you taken something designed for another use and repurposed it for your studio?
Not that I can think of.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, movies? What kind?
I always have to have something playing in the background. Either an audiobook – my favorite genre is juvenile fiction. Lighthearted and adventurous to help the time pass!
I also listen to music, usually wordless classical or movie soundtracks. Podcasts are too distracting – they don’t last long enough and I usually don’t feel in the ‘self help’ kind of mood when I’m focusing on finishing a project. Movies are too distracting also, haha!
Technique(s)? What do you do differently? Do you have a signature? What makes your work stand out as yours?
I think the techniques that set me a part is that I’m always teaching myself new techniques! I love researching obscure ways of weaving from around the world, connecting with experts in different countries and trying them out for myself. This keeps my work new and exciting for me and also for my followers. It is the fuel for my classes that keeps me coming back, excited to share what I’ve been practicing with others.
When you begin to create, do you have a finished product in mind? Or does the work evolve?
I almost always have a finished design in mind. I like to sketch out my designs or even paint them ahead of time. The woven product might change a bit, but for the most part I put my focus into making the details of the design fresh, new and in-the-moment and have the design as a whole already chosen.
Do you focus on one piece from start to finish or work actively on more than one project at a time?
For the most part, I focus on one piece at a time. Sometimes if I’m stuck, I will leave a piece out in the open to see it as I work on other projects, and let my mind work out the problem until a lightbulb moment hits. Then I have to finish it right away and move onto the next. While my schedule is pretty open-ended, my projects need to be finished in order to compartmentalize the creative flow and move on.
Tell us about a challenging piece. What were the obstacles and how did you get past them?
My most challenging pieces have been custom work that clients commission. I have actually stopped accepting commissions because they make my work feel more like a job when I don’t have the creative freedom to follow my own interests. I procrastinate them and feel so boxed-in!
One piece was especially hard. A client sent me a poem that she wanted me to translate into a tapestry and a list of specific elements and colors to include. It seemed like a fun challenge, but was completely different than my weaving style and I second guessed all of my creative decisions based on whether they fit her criteria. When I finally finished what I thought was a good representation of her personal poem she didn’t connect with my work at all. That was frustrating on top of all the mental labor I had invested in the piece.
Which artists do you admire? What draws you to their work?
I look to artists outside my own medium for inspiration! A few of my favorites are: Tiffanie Turner, Allie May Kiphuth, Madeline King from Earth Darlings, Yulia Brodskaya, Anne Ten Donkelaar and Elijah Koski
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people? Or do you think creativity is a skill that people can develop?
I truly believe that everyone is an artist in one way or another. Even if it’s not visual arts, we all have an innate desire to be creative somehow. I, for one, can NOT cook, for the life of me. That’s why I try to empower my students to be creative. I try to make it as easy as possible to be creative in a world with limited creative time.
Crafting is my life. It has been since I was little, and is an important part of who I am. Sometimes I wonder what good my work is doing for others, it’s just crafting, right?
However, through the thousands of students I’ve taught through my online video classes I’ve learned how essential crafting is. That’s true especially in today’s busy world, where our lives are so data-driven by metrics and efficiency. Crafting is power.
Yes, my mission through crafting is to make beautiful, inspirational things. But more importantly, it’s to connect with others and encourage others to use their craft as an important part of self-care. Crafting is healing.
I’ve had countless messages and moments with students who felt lost or isolated, either from postpartum depression, sickness or stress. They found confidence and purpose by taking my classes, watching my passion for the process, and working with their hands. It allows them to slow down as they work towards a goal they can tangibly hold in their hands. Then afterwards they can say, ‘Look at what I made with what I had’. Ultimately, that is why I do what I do. I appreciate the opportunity to touch someone’s life and enable them to experience the self-healing aspects that crafting brings.
Do you sell your work? Where can people find it?
I don’t usually sell my finished pieces, or if I do, they are called for within minutes. I focus on selling my online classes and tutorials, which you can find on my website at hellohydrangea.com
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I do in person workshops all the time for Macrame, Weaving and Punch Needle. I post my workshop schedule on my website and would love to do a tour sometime soon. If you would like me to come teach a workshop in your area please email me at [email protected].
Interview posted January 2019
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