***Note: Readers will have a chance to win a child's beginning embroidery kit, handmade by Maya, at the end of this interview.***
JEAN: I love exploring your make, eat, shop buttons in your sidebar. So much good stuff going on in your life and your blog! What sorts of projects do you have the most fun with?
MAYA: My absolute favorite way to create is with a bunch of interesting materials and only a vague notion of the direction I'll go in. Process driven art is just as exciting for me now, as when I was a child. I'm also always enthusiastic about using ordinary items in unexpected ways. I gather toilet paper tubes for just this reason.
JEAN: I’m always curious about the intersection of inspiration and doing. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Where do you find your inspiration and how do you translate your ideas into doing and making?
MAYA: I make something everyday,
whether it's a little gift for a friend or a special meal. I've always done
this and can't imagine life any other way. However, for many years, all of my Big
Ideas lived only in my head. I did lead a very rich and colorful
life with my family, but I had so many plans that only existed in notebooks or
scribbled on scraps of paper. I ached to make them real, but lack of confidence
held me back.
When my youngest turned two, something shifted for me. My daughter has always been a prolific artist. From a very early age, she rarely had a moment where she wasn't making or drawing. I started creating along side her. Her lack of inhibitions, strong belief in her growing abilities, and perseverance inspired me to find my own voice. Once I gave myself permission to let my ideas dance out of my head into the world, I realized something very exciting. The synchronicity of my mind and hands working together creates an energizing dynamic that builds upon itself. The more I make, the more ideas are born.
JEAN: I’d love to hear more about your blogging journey. What made you start blogging and what keeps you going?
MAYA: Two years
ago, I began blogging as a way to chronicle a child-focused interior design
project I was working on. Even though it was a store, I realized that a lot of
my ideas could have applications for parents in their homes. I thought a blog
would be a great forum for sharing. Often, you don't know where things will
lead. I had no idea that blogging would be the ultimate medium for, not only my
self expression, but connecting intimately with others all over the world.
JEAN: You said that your mom is an artist and a senior teacher at Stanford lab’s nursery school – how has she influenced you? What was it like growing up with an artist and early childhood educator as a mother?
Maya with her mother and grandmother at Baker Beach in San Francisco
MAYA: First, I
must share how fortunate I was to spend a great deal of my childhood with her
parents. They played a tremendous role in my life. My grandmother
received a Masters from Bank Street College of
Education in the late 30's, when they had just
begun their now famous teacher training program. She and my grandfather, a
physicist and artist, built their home (the first solar heated home on Long
Island) and incorporated a large nursery school onto one side of it. They ran a
very successful cooperative school for 50 years!
I was born there and spent
every summer having this space all to myself. There were multiple easels always
set up with paint, slabs of clay waiting to be sculpted, a woodworking bench
with real tools, every art supply a child could want—accessible and waiting.
Maya with the nursery school to herself in the midst of a huge boat made of blocks
I was given lots of time and space for exploration of all of these materials. I know that this deeply impacted how I parent my own children and shaped the way I've set up their creative spaces.
My mother wasn't a nursery school teacher during my early childhood years. She was a free-spirited artist who sewed our own clothes (or thrifted them), made toys from recycled materials, grew organic vegetables, and taught me how to be happy with less, rather than more.
Fast forward to the present. That description sounds very much like me today!
My mother has been a senior teacher
at Stanford's Lab Nursery school for almost 20 years. She has shared a
wealth of resources with me, from Reggio Emilia inspired projects, to great
children's literature, to activities using open ended materials... and of
course, wonderful parenting advice. You can find us discussing everything and
anything on a daily basis.
She's my best friend, and my children wish
that they could be with her all of the time. Me, too!
are a few of my mother's book picks:
JEAN: And, how about your own kids? Can you tell us what you do at home to encourage their creativity?
MAYA: I follow
their passions and create opportunities for them to explore deeply whatever
they're currently excited about.
When my 11 year old started drawing comics, we enrolled him in a cartooning class at the local art center. When that interest morphed into stop motion films we made sure that he got a camera for his birthday.
My youngest has a studio of her own.
We really do call it her studio. It's a large corner (adjacent to mine) filled
with supplies for anything she might want to make. My husband has happily
sacrificed his work space to give her more room to spread out.
We cut the legs off of our first kitchen table when our son was small. It has served both of our children well, as a large workspace at just their height.
I do set up new projects, but mostly encourage them to come up with their own ideas. My daughter's recent discovery has been embroidery and finger knitting, but a day doesn't go by without a dozen drawings being stacked up and waiting for display.
JEAN: I’d love to hear about your favorite blogs -- We all learn from each other and inspire each other to a degree in this wonderful online world. What are the blogs that you go to regularly for inspiration or just a good read?
MAYA: When I first discovered this amazing online community, I couldn't get enough. I would stay up late reading hundreds of blogs, not wanting to miss a thing! I couldn't maintain that for long. Now, I read a few sites daily that give me a quick overview of multiple projects:
I also have a handful of sites that I read regularly because they belong to friends. These are mostly women I've never met, but have grown quite close to through our blogging. To see a list of some of my favorite reads, you can check here.
JEAN: Anything else you’d like to add?
MAYA: Thank you
so much for inviting me over, Jean!
JEAN: Thank YOU, Maya! I love having visitors. Wish you could come over to my corner of the physical world, as well!
Readers who leave a comment to this interview by Friday, December 11th at 12 Midnight EST, will be entered into a random drawing for a child's beginning embroidery kit, handmade by Maya.
Small coffee sack bucket (lined with organic fabric) contains:
-various colors of floss
-2 steel needles with blunt tips
-coffee sack pincushion, that blunt needles slip right into!
-blank burlap pieces
-2 burlap pieces printed with simple embroidery patterns (shapes or animal)
Burlap's loose weave makes a perfect introduction to simple embroidery.