I’m really excited today to share an interview with Dr. Carol Ventura, the tapestry crochet master featured in Crochet Master Class. I can’t think of another crocheter who is as associated with a particular technique as Carol is with tapestry crochet. Carol first learned about tapestry crochet as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. While there, she purchased several bags, and after returning to the U.S., she unraveled one to learn about its design. Since that time, she has been hooked on tapestry crochet! (You can read more about Carol’s introduction to tapestry crochet in these interviews.)
Carol can be found on the internet at her website, her blog, and her Ravelry designer page. In addition to being a prolific crochet artist, teacher, and designer, Dr. Ventura is a Professor of Art in the Department of Music and Art and the Appalachian Center for Craft at the Tennessee Tech University. Dr. Ventura received her Ph.D. in Art, Theory, and Criticism and her MFA in Book Arts, Papermaking, and Printmaking from the University of Georgia, her MA in Ceramics from Montclair State University, her BA in Art from The College of New Jersey, and her AA in Art from Ocean County College.
All photos are used with Carol’s permission.
UC: What originally inspired you to begin designing your own patterns and writing crochet books?
Carol: It was/is the best way to share tapestry crochet with others. (UC comment: Carol shares a lot of great information about tapestry crochet on her website and blog, including this post about the design of the bag featured in Crochet Master Class, and this recent post about creating tapestry crochet graphs from photos.)
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
UC: What do you enjoy about working with the tapestry crochet technique?
Carol: I love that it’s portable and doesn’t require lots of expensive tools or a lot of space.
UC: Your tapestry crochet books include not just patterns and tutorials, but also detailed information about the historical and cultural significance of the technique. What was the development process like for these books – was it similar for all three or did it change over time?
Carol: I’m an art historian by trade, so it was logical for me to include a little bit about tapestry crochet history in my Tapestry Crochet and More Tapestry Crochet books. Each book stands alone and compliments one another. I didn’t include any history in my Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet book because I had already covered that topic in the first two books.
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your library (besides your own, of course)?
Carol: I have a huge library of thousands of books about many topics – but no favorites. I love them all! (UC comment: I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to sneak a peak into the crochet section in Carol’s library!)
(Edited to add: UC comment: You can read more about this afghan and Carol’s experiment with felting it here.)
UC: Do you have any favorite craft or design blogs or websites to share?
UC: If this isn’t too personal, can you talk a bit about your insulating concrete form (ICF) house? It seems like a fascinating project and I’d be interested in learning more about your decision to design and build this style of eco-friendly housing.
Carol: I was inspired by houses in Central America and Europe that are built to last for many generations from stone, brick, and concrete. I was also inspired by reading Mother Earth News articles about earth sheltered homes during the late 1970s when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. I couldn’t afford to have the concrete walls poured in the usual manner, though. While watching TV, I found out about ICFs – the perfect, affordable solution.
The house is still not finished, although we’re living in it. We started construction 10 years ago – before “earth friendly” and “green building” became popular – and people back then would look at us like we were nuts for building such a different type of house! The response is better now. I created several web pages about its construction to help others avoid some of the problems we encountered.
It is still difficult to find basic information about some of the various steps involved and my ignorance cost us tens of thousands of dollars! I understood that we had to plan ahead because it was difficult to install the utilities, but there were other things that I didn’t anticipate. If only I knew then what I know now!
Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule for an interview, Carol!
For more Year of Projects posts, visit When Did I Become a Knitter.