If you spend some time browsing Instructables, you will likely find a helpful and encouraging comment for the author from Christine Nast. ChrysN's projects range from plush cell models to homemade perfume to growing wheatgrass, and her work is always fun and beautiful and creative. I had the chance to ask her a few questions, and she was nice enough to share her inspiration and some great advice for other authors on Instructables.
What motivates you to continue posting instructables? Is the community the draw? The contests? Individual statistics like pageviews and feature percentage?
I think the Instructables community is really wonderful and definitely encourages me to keep posting. I find that it is a great place to get advice and support and all the kind comments left on my Instructables is really heartening. I do really enjoy making things and posting my projects here is a great way to share them with others.
The Internet was sharply divided over pet hair jewelry a month or so ago. One of your more popular projects is a set of felted pet hair beads. What are your feelings about making use of one’s pet hair for projects?
I was bit worried about posting this Instructable since I wasn't sure how people would react to using pet hair in this way. I did run the idea by my friends and they seemed to think it was okay, some even started making their own pet hair beads. I did do some internet research on the idea of using pet hair and there are a couple of books on the subject, one was about making sweaters from dog hair and another was about needle felting with cat hair. So I don't think my idea is as crazy as I initially thought. Much of the feedback left on my Instructable is generally positive so I feel okay about having posted it.
Are you working on any projects that we might be seeing on Instructables anytime soon?
I have a few things on the go, some are finished and just need to be written up. One project involves and Ikea hack. I also have a large number of petri dishes that I got when we were cleaning out some of the cupboards at work. I am still trying to decide what to do with them, though I have a few ideas.
How did you discover the site and what inspired you to start posting projects?
I think I first came upon the Instructables site from a Google search. I was looking for an Ikea hack. I can't remember what I was planning to make but I think it involved a coffee table. I remember checking out some of the awesome and diverse projects. I had really liked the Instructable (step-by-step) format in the way that they incorporated images and text as well as being able to comment and leave questions for the authors. Once I became a member I noticed that I was even able to post my own instructables. This seemed like fun so though about what hobbies or skills I had to contribute. At the time I had just bought a juicer and was doing a lot of juicing including growing my own wheat grass, since there wasn't yet an instructable on how to grow wheat grass I went with that.
Of all the projects that you have posted, which is your favorite?
I think my Plush Cell Model is my favorite. I have a background in biology and I work in a lab where we do cell culture so this project is reflective of those interests. I keep one cell plushie on my desk at work and one at home in my living room.
Conversely, do you have any ugly duckling projects that you know aren’t great but you love and cherish them anyway?
I quite like my origami dragon. I did a lot of origami when I was a kid and I still really enjoy it. Most of the origami I did was following diagrams from books but I tried my hand of creating my own design and came up with this dragon. It is a fairly simple looking dragon compared to some of the more advanced models you can find on the internet but I do like the way it turned out.
If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?
My advice is to have fun. I think it is easy to get caught up in contests, ratings and page views, but I think creating comes from the heart, enjoy what you do and don't worry how popular your instructables are. Also don't be afraid to fail. I've had several failed projects but that's how you challenge yourself to come up with a different and better ways of doing things. Another piece of advice is to take lots of photos.
Your projects encompass a wide range of skills. How did you become proficient in so many skill sets?
When I have a project in mind I usually have an image of the finished object and work back from there. I usually pick up the skills as I go along, so I wouldn't really consider myself proficient. For example, I only recently learned how to crochet. I found some bamboo yarn (which is really soft) at the store and I wanted to make my friend a little teddy bear for her newborn so I had to learn how to crochet. Likewise with simple electronic circuits, I was never taught that stuff at school, I learned most of what I know here at Instructables.
Is there anyone who has been particularly influential towards your work?
Both of my parents are pretty handy. My mom does a lot of knitting, crocheting and sewing. My dad does his own repairs and is quite the handyman. So I probably get it from them. I also find inspiration from the talented and ingenious people that post on instructables. I'm often amazed at the creativity of some of the projects posted here. This encourages me to challenge myself to do better.