Don’t throw away those scraps just yet, because Martha McGlothlin Gayle probably has a use for them.
And she’ll turn it into something beautiful.
On her “Confetti Chronicles” blog, that’s just what Martha does. Credit her upbringing, which fostered and nurtured an innate ability within Martha to turn nothing into something, and something into everything. And the results speak for themselves.
A real arts and crafts whiz, Martha has a very interesting set of skills that make her a fascinating person to interview. A busy mother of four, Martha and her husband Al are in the middle of building their dream home. And while that process might be taking awhile, it hasn’t stopped Martha from doing what she does best: creating things.
Please enjoy this very special interview with Martha, and then after reading it, please visit her lovely blog, the “Confetti Chronicles.” Enjoy!
1. Hi Martha, thank you for sharing your time with us. You’ve got a very unique blog that is delightfully different than many of the others.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and the “Confetti Chronicles.”
Thank you for having me! I’m the working mom of four delightful little ones, all under the age of three and have been married to a wonderful guy (Al) for almost 14 years. Ever since I can remember, I have loved making things.
Early on I spray painted pine cones and sold them to neighbors (through an aptly named business I started in the 4th grade, The Pine Cone Shop), decoupaged rocks and made Christmas ornaments out of pipe cleaners. I like to think I’ve progressed somewhat since then but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
I hate throwing anything away. Some would call it a crazy obsession. My most recent “keeper” was a single leaf out of our old dining room table. We no longer needed the table and sold it in a consignment shop.
There was one leaf that had a candle wax stain from our first dinner party as a married couple. I kept the single leaf…not sure what I’ll do with it but one day the perfect project for it will come to me I’m sure! Until then, it will reside in our garage…
I love flea markets (I’d love to have a ’72 turquoise Ford or Chevy pickup to haul all my finds!), yard sales (having them and going to them), eBay, organizing, making my home beautiful, making lists, taking photos (I’m never without my camera), creating jewelry and playing the piano, among many other things.
I started the Confetti Chronicles as a way to “chronicle” for myself the various projects I’ve done and to share them with friends.
2. You have many different specialties, so let’s start with your arts and crafts. This type of art brings back memories of art class in elementary school. Why were you originally drawn to this type of art, and did you really start your own business in the 4th grade?
I’ve always loved creating and was influenced by my 2 grandmothers at an early age. I have lots of memories of doing projects with both of them, as well as with my cousins.
As an only child I found that doing crafts was a way to stay entertained. Naturally I wanted to sell my crafts (even if no one wanted to buy them!) and with entrepreneurial parents, I had the bug early to start a little business. When I was in the 4th grade, I collected pine cones from my Granny’s yard, spray painted and sold them to her neighbors.
Just recently I came across a small hand-drawn “catalog” of my wares that I carried door to door. My dad printed business cards and opened a checking account for me under the name The Pine Cone Shop. I didn’t have much in the way of sales but it helped me learn about bank accounts. Later I sold hair barrettes (made with little worry dolls—remember those?) and t-shirts painted with puffy paint at my mom’s clothing store (what a nice mom to let me do that—I hope her customers weren’t too horrified). Thank goodness I’ve moved on from those trends in fashion! I feel lucky to have parents who believed in me and allowed me to nurture my creative spirit.
3. How big a part does home decor play in your art? Is your home decorated in the crafts you create, or do you mostly give them away to friends, family, and neighbors?
I admit it’s hard to give away or even sell (sometimes!) the things I make! I’m very sentimental and don’t like to part with anything.
But I do prefer to make a gift rather than buy one if I have the time; for example, jewelry, a photo album, something with a personal touch. My home is sprinkled with things I’ve made over the years…lampshades, pillows, artwork. My philosophy on decorating is buy what you love and you’ll find a spot for it eventually. My home makes me happy because of all the stories and memories behind the pieces I’ve selected and the collections I’ve put together. It’s taken me years to gather and make fun little things and I’m not finished yet!
4. Please tell us about Martha Jane Jewelry. What is your involvement and how did you get started in making this style of jewelry?
My friend Lora and I taught ourselves how to make jewelry by following techniques in magazines and practicing, practicing, practicing!
Some of the early pieces we made were pretty horrendous! I had an old rhinestone pin that fell apart and I decided to wire it onto a necklace. That’s when I began to look at vintage earrings and brooches in a new light and started incorporating them into my jewelry. A love of yard sales, flea markets and eBay certainly helps!
Everything on my website, www.marthajane.com is handmade by me. By the way, Martha Jane was my Granny’s name and my daughter’s name is Jane, so my website is a combination of all three of us. I sell to friends, family and a few stores and I’m also branching out into an Etsy store: www.marthajane.etsy.com. Jewelry making has slowed right now because my kids would eat all the beads! In our new home I’ll have a studio where I can leave everything out and be more productive (I hope!).
5. Please tell us more about your new home. Is it something you are having built yourself, or is it from a new housing development? Have you already planned out the decor for this new home, and how anxious are you to move in?
Our new home is in a rural mountainous setting in a friendly neighborhood that is great for kids. We’re building from scratch and hoping to be in by this fall but I’ve stopped asking “when.” I figure I might as well not be disappointed if we don’t make the due date! I don’t think our builder has quite pinned down our style yet. He’s used to building everything new and shiny and I keep telling him I want the floors, beams—everything, distressed. We’ll have lots of vintage pieces and lots of fun elements for the kids: an old water fountain, large chalkboard, and little desks, all from an old school.
Mostly I can’t wait for a backyard for our kids and a big closet for me (two things we don’t have right now). I hope to start blogging about our decor soon.
6. You’ve got a nice collection of quilts, including some beautiful purses. How did you get interested in quilting, and do you expect to start doing more of it soon?
I’ve just always loved the feel of a vintage quilt, the stitching and the fact that each square is done separately, not like now where they piece together pre-mades. I’m constantly searching for vintage quilts and definitely plan more projects. But I like to just have them around my home too, to drape over a bed or use to warm up while watching TV or reading. On my daughter’s bed right now is the softest pink vintage butterfly quilt and in my family room there’s a strawberry quilt that I had when I was a baby. One of my favorites is a giant peacock quilt a special friend gave me years ago. They all get better year after year.
7. You are one of the first bloggers I’ve seen who has incorporated computers into your decorating projects, which I think is fantastic.
In addition to the cool logos you’ve designed, what are some other ways people at home can use computers for decor? For example, putting pictures of family on mugs or other household items, etc.
The biggest way I use my computer for home decor is printing photos for frames. I print them on heavy cardstock (it’s much cheaper than photo paper and the quality is just as good) and switch them out at home and in my office often. Another great use is to find a cute pattern, clip art or monogram font that you like, print it out in large-scale on 8.5 x 11 paper and then laminate it to make a placemat. Or it could be framed for inexpensive art. And of course, in addition to home decor, there really is no end to other computer uses such as printing your own invitations, placecards and other fun items!
8. People always told Nancy Malay that she should teach art, and after several years she decided to finally go for it. You are someone who is always told to teach art as well, mainly to young children. Once you are settled into your new home, is this something you’d like to try?
If not at schools, then you could always offer classes yourself for families on the weekends or after school?
I’ve never actually tried teaching. I’m not sure I have the patience for that. I once taught a scrapbooking class where my husband worked and that was my first and last foray into that arena. I think I’m more interested in doing the projects myself! Everything I’ve done has been self-taught so the thought of teaching others is sort of a stretch in my mind. I am excited about doing craft projects with my kids and teaching them what I know.
9. Martha, you have a very interesting background and have succeeded in creating your own style. Thanks so much for the interview, and for this last question, please tell us how long you see yourself doing this type of art?
For instance, when your kids are all grown up in 20 years, do you still see yourself doing arts and crafts, or is there another area of art that you’d like to explore in the future?
I’ll never stop doing arts & crafts. For one thing, I have too many craft supplies lying around that need to be used! It’s great fun and a challenge to see what can be made out of random objects. From my to-do list, when (or if) I ever find the time, here are some lessons I’d like to take: oil or watercolor painting, soldering and welding to name a few. And I’d love to learn to use a circular saw!
Martha’s passion shines through each and every answer, and you can’t help but be drawn to her positive energy.
We want to thank Martha for giving us a terrific interview. Please take some time now and visit “Confetti Chronicles.” And if you get inspired, sign up for your local arts and crafts class and give it a whirl!