GeekCraft Expo Midwest is March 25 and 26, just a few weeks away--have you RSVPed yet? Don't forget our incredible Kick-Off Party at The Bodgery, Madison's premier makerspace, March 24. We'll have free food and beer, prizes from local businesses like Geeks Mania Arcade, The Game Crafter, and Artist & Craftsman Supply, as well as goodies from our exhibitors like crafted., who creates wood signs inspired by Harry Potter, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and more!
We talked with crafted.'s Michelle Whisner and asked her about her inspirations and what she'll be bringing to the show!
GeekCraft Expo: What inspired you to make wood signs?
crafted.: My wood signs are just one aspect of what I create with crafted., but I've always liked the juxtaposition of detail painting and the earthiness of a naturally flawed surface like the wood bases that I cut and paint. And, because so many people loved the quirkiness of what I paint, it was the perfect medium to keep playing with.
GCE: What came first for you: woodworking skills, or design skills?
crafted.: That's an easy one . . . the designing! In a previous life, I worked in the paper crafts industry and got my start working on designs for scrapbookers . . . and it just blossomed from there. My woodworking skills would probably mortify anyone that works with wood as a hobby, let alone professionally. Since everything I do has been self taught, and I still have all my digits, I count myself a success.
GCE: You have a wide variety of different types of signs: geeky signs, signs for pets, signs about food, wine, coffee—which are your favorite ones to do?
crafted.: Would it be wrong to say I love them all? But in all seriousness, I really do enjoy making a wide variety of designs, because I find that the right person will find the right design for them. However, I have a very dry sense of humor that I find sneaking into my projects more and more . . . and I've come to realize that I'm not alone. And, as much as I enjoy making pieces that inspire people, I've found that more and more I'm drawn to the darker side sign making.
(and I feel like I need to insert an eeeeevil laugh in here . . .)
GCE: The signs you have that are pictures made from words—like your Chewbacca sign, for example—all look like they’re made up of different fonts. What’s your process of matching a font to a character?
crafted.: Actually, a lot of the typography-style pieces are made with a base font and then the points are digitally manipulated in a design program to "fit" into a character's silhouette. For example, I'm working on a Kylo Ren piece that has about 20-plus hours of design time into it, and it's only about half finished. There are more little points to stretch and bend into a design than one would think.
GCE: Do you take commissions?
crafted.: I adore commissions! I do a lot of customizable pieces, such as my own take on a fandom-family sign, but have done everything from a simple size or color change on a wood piece, to more intricate items such as an original design or quote design based on a fan's favorite movie, book, or comic.
GCE: What was your favorite thing about GeekCraft Expo Midwest last year?
crafted.: I think the one thing that I loved the most about GeekCraft Expo last year was the excitement that I saw on everyone's faces! It was my first geeky-maker event and I was just hoping to be able to hold my own in talking to guests about their favorite comics, characters, or fandoms (so I brought my husband, Ryan as geeky backup). And . . . I was blown away by the people that couldn't control their joy when they saw an item that had their favorite fandom on it—I knew that this would be a great event for both the makers and the guests.
GCE: What types of things are you bringing to the show this year?
crafted.: I'll have a mix of signs from some of my favorite fandoms, as well as signs and prints with little bit of geeky-nerdy-book lover humor. I'll also have some vinyl decals, stickers, and home decor items for specific fandoms and general geekiness, as well. Recently, I've been playing around with the scroll saw and laster cutter, so there might be a few new items that are in the works, too!
Big thanks to Michelle for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with us. Make sure to stop by her booth at GeekCraft Expo Midwest March 25 and 26, and stop by the Kick-Off Party at The Bodgery March 24 for a chance to win one of her signs!