Merrilee Liddiard has spent most of her life crafting. Her insatiable passion for creating has led to her book Playful. For the 4th edition of the Bloesem Gazette we had a little heart to heart with the craft queen herself and it was hard not to immediately bust out the art supplies!
Author, well-known blogger and mother, Merrilee Liddiard wears many hats - most probably elaborately crafted paper ones since she is undoubtedly the queen of crafts. You might know her as Mer Mag, the name of her blog, or the author of Playful, her craft book that is a collection of 26 unique do-it-yourself projects parents can create together with their children.
We talk more about her love of craft and the making of her craft book after the cut..
How did you start your crafting journey? Did you always know that you would publish a book of crafts one day?
I grew up in a creative and crafty home with my father making us dollhouses and my mother sewing us costumes so it’s always been a part of me. I remember pouring over Make and Do kids craft books and we had a tradition of doing something crafty when babysitters would come. When I went to college I studied illustration and went on to illustrate books but when I had my own kids the kiddo crafting bug came back and we just dove right in. Once I was really into it I knew I wanted to do a kids craft book of my own so that my kids and other little ones could have their own book to pour over, inspire, create from on a rainy day, and pass along to the next generation.
What about your kids, do they have a passion for crafting as well?
I think all kids have a penchant for creation. It’s just a matter of finding what ticks for each child. My kids bring different things to the table which birth many of our online DIYS and tutorials. My oldest is mathematical-minded so has always loved shapes, patterns, colours, order, etc. We do a lot of geometric and repetitive crafts for him in that vein. My second son is very imaginative and lives in another world a good majority of the time. He’s very character-oriented and loves toys so we do a lot with that for him. My daughter is two and so is of course very hands on and loves all things sensory. I recently did a floral stamp craft with her and she was very interested in touching, squishing, colouring and patterning whatever mom did. She’s also big into dressing up already.
How important is “play time” for kids?
Play time is soo so crucial. It’s the time when children can craft their own world and apply what they are learning on their terms. It breeds creativity, confidence and light heartedness - something us adults could all use a good dose of now and again.
How was the process of working with other creatives on the book?
I loved working with others. It was so important to me to bring on board creatives that I respected, worked well with and would only bring the book to another level I could never get to on my own. I really wanted this book to be set in a world in which a little one would want to escape to - so when you opened its pages you not only wanted to create but you became lost and inspired, to dream and to really be Playful! My editor, Melanie Falick, photographer Nicole Gerulat, designer Brooke Reynolds, and stylists Meta Coleman and Brittany Watson Jepson (as well as all the darling children, props, clothing, hair stylists and so many others involved!) really helped me bring this vision to life! It’s truly a dream come true.
What is your favourite craft in the book?
Oh that’s a hard one as it changes all the time! I’m smitten with the cardboard brownstones, but the paper puppets are so fun and versatile, and then there are the doll face necklaces that I really love, but the tiger pinata - that might be my favorite shoot so, oh I don’t know! What’s yours? We are smitten with the tiger pinata (picture to the left)! It’s such a great party decor idea.
Could you share one unforgettable behind-the-scenes moment of making the book? I’m still so fond of the story behind the cover. Meta Coleman had the idea for the overhead shot of the girl with the trapeze doll and I came up with painting the entrance to the circus tent. Then Nicole, who was 8 months pregnant at the time!, climbed a tall ladder (which we spotted her on) to get the shot! It was sort of crazy but so much fun. At the time we just intended this to be the shot for the trapeze doll craft and shot about two days worth of what we thought could be cover shots. We had so many ideas that were almost there but nothing was screaming “Hey, I’m the cover of Playful!”, so seriously a day before having to finalize what the cover would be, and not feeling 100% about anything, I suddenly had this epiphany that we already had the cover, and it was from our Trapeze doll shoot! I quickly comped together a rough cover idea using this photo and sent it off to the editor. Everyone loved it and marketing signed off on it the next day! It was like it was meant to be all along.
Image via Playful.