Martha Stewart Talks Crafts, Host Gifts and Twitter

By Jura Koncius
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 9, 2009

Martha Stewart has a plan for how everyone can endure the economic crisis: by glittering, embossing and beading.

Stewart is doing her part to keep us gilding and quilling with the publication last week of "Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts" (Potter Craft, $35), a 416-page volume with 700 photos plus templates, lists of tools and materials guides. This A-to-Z compendium of more than 200 craft projects will be followed next year by volume two, an encyclopedia of sewing-related crafts.

Like just about everything Stewart does, the new book is exhaustive, and it is exhausting. The encyclopedia speaks to the nearly 60 percent of American households that participate in crafts and hobbies. But it also reaches out to those who aren't inclined to spend their free time punching tin or decoupaging with Mod Podge, by teaching the traditions in detail.

When checking in with Stewart, you always pick up news of her latest endeavors: a line of home-cleaning products in development that will be formulated to be safe for kids and pets; her growing number of Twitter followers (more than 310,000 as of early this week); and efforts to find a retailer to replace her Kmart contract for linens and tableware that expires at the end of the year.

Stewart spoke by telephone from her ninth-floor office at her company headquarters in the Starrett-Lehigh Building on Manhattan's West Side.

How is the recession affecting domestic life and people making things at home?

People are staying home and enjoying it by crafting and beautifying their home with decorating and cooking. They can't afford to travel, but they can afford a [$23] glitter kit.

What is the reward of crafting?

The satisfaction you gain by doing some of these projects is very important. In this time, when people have lost money in their IRA accounts and they may have lost their jobs and are having trouble making ends meet, they can lose themselves in beautiful projects. People get a huge kick out of doing it themselves. You look at something and say, "I can do this."

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