Beth Cummings of Diffraction Fiber has lived in Chicago for the last four years and loves it. “It has a neighborhood feel where I live but still within a short distance from amazing food and culture and everything you could possibly need to be inspired.” she says. Beth lives with her husband, Regan, and a little doggy named Ditto that they just recently got from a shelter.
Beth describes herself as a typical Pisces – a lover and an artist who loves cooking. She loves dinner parties, sunshine on a crisp day, snuggling her puppy and her husband. Beth also loves reading and playing board games. Her favorite quote is, “Life is either a daring adventure or its nothing. Security does not exist in nature nor do the children of men as a whole experience it”. — Helen Keller
How long have you been sewing?
Oh man, as long as I can remember. My mother and grandmother taught me to sew when I was tiny.
Why did you start?
Well I was a curious kid, and you see your mom and grandma sewing you want to do what they are doing. That’s how I learned lots of handy life skills.
What are the items you have handy at all times for creating?
A rotary cutter. I adore that thing. And embroidery scissors. They are absolutely essential for all the detail work I do in my appliques.
Where do you get your materials?
A variety of places, some from online sources, some from local fabric stores. I like to shop around and get the best deal on my materials, making the final product as affordable as possible for my customers.
What does Eco Friendly mean?
Well, in the cast of my pillows- it means the fabric is made of 100% recycled plastic botles.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
I work on incoming orders first, I try to keep everything in stock but that is often impossible. So I’ll work on a handful of one type of pillow at a time, maybe do all the appliques then all the ironing then all the sewing. In a nice little assembly line.
How do you pick what you will make next?
Well, my ideas come from all over, and it kind of depends on how much I’m struck my the idea. Sometimes a new idea goes on a list that I’ll pull from later when I want to make something new. Other times as soon as I get the idea I drop everything I’m doing and run into the sewing room to create that next great idea!
Do you have a dedicated work area/room?
Yup, I have a studio in our home that is a beautiful old office space that has a gorgeous wide archway leading into it with all this wonderful old woodwork. It’s fabulous. I love it.
Is this your full-time job? Hobby? Fun?
Full time since the beginning of summer!
Where do you get your ideas for new work?
Conversations, images, things I eat, jokes, whatever. My husband says I give him conversational whiplash because we’ll be talking about something mundane like grocery lists and out of no where I’ll say “wouldn’t peanut butter and jelly pillows be amazing!”
Do you have a best seller?
A couple, they go in waves. Its the Made for Each Other Pillow Set (which is the PB&J pillows) and the Ctrl-Alt-Del set.
Do you have a favorite item?
I am in love with my newest pillow– The Cameo Pillow. It has a lot of sentimental value for me. But really all of them are each so much a part of my personality that I love them all. You can tell a LOT (perhaps a little too much!) about me from what I create. No one is going to like everything I make, because they are so personal. But my goal is to make you in LOVE with a few of them instead of just liking them all.
What other kinds of crafts do you do?
Oh, I know how to do lots of things, but it seems like I don’t have time for many of them any more– I do love how relaxing knitting is and the creativity of embroidery. I’ve also been known to crochet, make fiber sculpture, felting wool into beads, shrinky dink jewelry, night lights, photography, among other things.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Hopefully the same thing! Making a living by creating is the biggest joy for me. I couldn’t ask for more.
Have any advice for people trying to start their own handcrafted business?
Don’t worry so much about trends– worry about making a unique product that you love, and let others fall in love with it too. Market yourself and keep your integrity– which means valuing your time.