Session 15: Mr Printables

This dröm sessions calls for some DIY awesomeness, and first person we could think of was Olive, more known as Mr Printables! Mr Printables is known for its creativity and generosity in spreading such crafty goodness, putting up downloadable templates of awesome DIY projects. One of our personal favourite thing about Mr Printables is his ability to think and speak in pom-pom language, you’ll know what we mean as you read on.

DIY glycerine soap gem stones 2 DIY glycerine soap gem stones 3 DIY glycerine soap gem stones
Mr Printables first DIY post on the blog – Glycerine soap gems.

Hello there Olive! Firstly, we’d like to know why the name “Mr. Printables”. This name seems all so enigmatic because some of us had in the past, mistakenly assumed that the creative brains behind your wonderful projects/creations belonged to a guy.

I was imagining a little character who is a printer and also a little guy, who magically prints out things for children, just like a magic pencil story. Instead of drawing things into life, this one prints stuff out that become real objects. I thought it was a funny idea for kids and would’ve turned it into a cartoon story if I could. But later when I had to draw a logo, I gave up on a printer based character (not easy!) and Mr P became a square paper character (easy!).
How cute is Mr P’s logo!

play fruit-templates
Geometric shapes and colours, what’s not to love about fruits! Play Fruit – On today’s menu for you is a juicy paper fruit salad! Make these essential toys for your play kitchen with Mr Printables templates!

Did you receive creative education prior this, like having majored in arts or design? Or has arts & crafting been something you were passionate all along, something that stuck with you that developed over the years?

I did an environmental design course and a few other things but I wasn’t an especially good crafty person. I tried to learn to knit but gave up fairly quickly. I would dream of knitting something one day but I have little patience. Another crafty thing I remember many years back is that I started an American quilt once – a big blanket – persuaded by a friend. After deciding the design and buying all the fabric and supplies, I gave up within a couple of days and my mom ended up spending months finishing it. I was surprised she did because she’s not so crafty either! Crafting became an all new thing for me later when I came across the craft world on the web, because of the running of the Mr P site and I wanted to add some fun projects for kids. I’m glad I gave myself a second chance!

Mr P’s DIY Origami Bipyramids. What’s even better – string them through and you get a necklace!

We’d like to know how did Mr Printables started, what sparked this off?

I’m a bit behind technologies in general so one day, with total naivety and ignorance, I thought I would combine the two most amazing technologies I knew of – a personal printer and the internet! I thought it was a ground breaking idea haha. Internet meant ‘websites’ to me back then so I started a small website by googling ‘how to create a website’. Luckily I didn’t really know what a blog was and all the amazing things people were doing on the web. Had I seen what I see these days on Pinterest I wouldn’t have dared to start! It’s been a big learning curve since.

3D-Alphabet-Templates_B 3D-Alphabet-Templates
For all typography fans, here’s Mr P’s 3D Alphabet Templates.

You seem to have a constant river of awesome ideas flowing out of you so effortlessly! How do inspirations hit you, and how do you go about conceptualizing your projects?

Most of the time, I start by thinking about what kids learn and trying to combine things I would like to play myself or enjoyed as a kid. They come from the memories of childhood imagination or experience – for example imagining riding a rainbow or remembering hunting for Easter eggs can be directly translated into some games. Most projects have an educational angle and that actually makes them more fun than boring, because learning new things as a child is always magical and trying to have that sense present in projects helps inspire new ideas.

Sometimes they are just totally random ideas from messing around!
I suppose because I offer things for free, which I wanted from the start so that the projects could be enjoyed by all children, things can be done without much pressure, say, compared to developing a product that you need to sell. Instead, I can publish a whole spectrum of ideas without restriction. A simple idea from one afternoon’s daydream can be published almost instantly.

Too cool for school? These Back To School printable series are so good! These pencil favour boxes and ruler gift tags are sure to make you the coolest kid in school when you making your kid’s birthday goodie packs.

poms-flowers poms-flowers-2
Remember how we previously mentioned how Mr P is able to think and speak pom-pom? Look at how these pom-poms are conceptualised and then be actualised! The above featured are Mr P’s flower pom-poms – from scratch, to process, and then the final flower pom-pom! We stay amazed at how this is even possible of Mr P to think of such clever technique!

All of your DIY pom-poms are so adorable and brilliant! The way you invent those pom-pom designs are just so mind blowing. Each time we see those new pom-pom designs of yours, our jaws would drop! Your kiwi and mountain pom-poms are our absolute favourites! We’re imagining that you have to almost work backwards, by first envisioning the final pom-pom design, and thereafter stripping them down – element by element, colour by colour, winding the wool correctly in place and remembering the sequence. Did you have to go through much rounds of trial and error for these pom-poms? What encourages you not to give up?

Thank you so much. I started with the flower pompoms and I got the very first one completely wrong. I made it in the most difficult way possible by wrapping the background first and the circle design in the center part last, then made that last layer come to the center when finished. This was a silly way to do it. But when I tried one and saw how it came out, I realised it was actually quite simple and straightforward. I just needed to wrap the design in the center first and work outwards. Seems too obvious afterwards! The flower pompoms are easy but give you a good understanding of how it works to start with, after that I simply developed it and added extra features for the animal ones.

In my opinion there’s no such thing as a pompom too ugly to give up on!  I had those that didn’t come out so well and didn’t use in the photos, but actually I think they are cuter than the perfect ones and they make me laugh. A reader posted a picture of her panda pompom on my animal pompom post – one of those ‘ I nailed it’ pictures. It was supposed to be a big failure, however it’s really adorable! Just a little scraggly panda! I grew to like any ‘failed’ pompoms and sometimes liked them more. : )

By the way, you’re quite safe if you have a drawing next to you to follow. So I make a simple drawing, draw a line vertically half way, then you just need to look at it to keep track of the sequence and layers. Of course when I’m distracted, I forget what I just wrapped! Although my patience level for the simple wrapping part is quite low, trying new designs to see if they come out as planned kept me interested.

Kiwi pom-poms! Our jaws dropped when we saw these created by Mr P!

Just when we thought the kiwi poms-poms were the best, then came the lemons and watermelons!
And then these came along – A whole fruit pom-pom platter!

Your pom-poms are so amazingly well trimmed and shaped! We know our pom-poms usually end up embarrassingly shaggy & loose, rather than round & compact. And when we thought your flower poms were the most perfectly shaped poms-poms we’ve seen – you blew us away with your series of mountains, houses and the animals! Are there any advice or tips that you could share to encourage all of us who are in desperate need of improvements, in terms of trimming the perfect pom pom (& for those of us who are conveniently blaming our chunky fingers)?

Thank you! But I’ve seen pompoms that are much more perfect dense balls than mine!
The flower pompoms are actually more loose than the later ones like animals and letters. I gradually realised that the more yarn you’re willing to wrap, the better they come out. I’m guilty of stopping the wrapping too early most of the time because I loose patience or go ‘ah well that should be enough’ and hope for the best, but when I wrap the pompom maker into a fairly fat ball patiently, they tend to come out compact enough to hold a good solid shape when you trim.
When I stop a bit early and end up with loose pompoms, I just trim a lot more than usual until the pompom becomes smaller and denser.  The alphabet pompoms are a bit smaller than the flower or animal pompoms even though they are made from the same size pompom maker because I trimmed them a lot more to have more defined letters.

When my readers send images of their pompoms and ask for trimming tips, I can see from their photos that they should often simply trim more.

What is your favorite part in being a crafter.

Trying different materials. I need to spend lots of time on the computer for the site, so the handling real material part is the pleasurable and more relaxing part.
For example, I used cheaper acrylic yarn first when I made the first pompoms but now I’ve bought some wool yarn recently and they were so much nicer in color and feel so I got quite excited. I eyed some merino and cashmere yarn in the shop and am dreaming of getting my hands on them one day for a special occasion.

Please share with us an all time favorite Mr Printables project/creation, and tell us what makes it your favorite?

Probably My Paper World, because of its possibilities. There were supposed to be many more in the series to come but I haven’t had the time to update. Hopefully this year. The idea that you can create any imaginary world from a few sheets of paper sums up the idea of fun on the Mr P site.  The wonderful transformation of a sheet of paper into almost anything.

my paper world A my paper world C
my paper world B my paper world D
My Paper World – one of Mr Printable’s favourite project.

Apart from crafting, what are some of your other favourite things to do?

They change, but this year I want it to be drawing! I also want it to be decorating the house but that’s not going to happen. Going on long wild walks is one of my favorite things.

Lastly, is there anything that you can say to advise or encourage all new/aspiring crafters out there, to those who might’ve perhaps been discouraged & held back by fear to pursue this full time?

I can only base it on my short experience, but what helped me was that I started sharing things for free on my personal site. So it wasn’t too intimidating for me to start. If I had to sell something, invest or prove myself from the beginning, it would’ve seemed scary. So I’d say if you’re worried about doing the right thing or not, it might be a good idea to have some personal platform – this would be a small site or a blog – that allows you to experiment and make mistakes, and give yourself enough time to figure out and learn things along the way, until you think you’re more ready.
When it comes to a level of commercial success to replace full time work, I haven’t managed anything like that so far so can’t comment! ^ ^  But I can say you won’t know the new possibilities if you don’t start. I’m starting a new brand called Rock & Pebble with a line of products this year (I was trying to find room to fit this in! Haha… only joking … half joking) and it’s something I would’ve never been confident enough to do at the beginning. Just messing around with the Mr P site all this time allowed me to learn, experiment and figure out my next plans.