Nicole Smith, known as Penolopy Bulnick around the site, is the Community Support Manager here at Instructables. That basically means she is one of the first faces you'll see when you sign up here! She helps keep contests and challenges running smoothly, gives new authors advice and feedback on their instructables, helps with site problems and leaves dozens of encouraging comments every week on new instructables. She is everywhere! She is also a super snappy dresser (as seen above) and one of the hardest working/multitasking people I've ever had the pleasure to work with! I recently got a chance to ask her some questions and got a couple of photos of where the Instructables magic happens.
How did you first discover Instructables and what inspired you to start posting projects?
I first came to Instructables because of TotusMel and tatting. I'm not sure how I ended up on the site specifically, but I know it was when I was trying to look for fun jewelry to wear for my wedding. Somehow I found one of TotusMel's creations and that led to me wanting to learn to tat and that lead me to the site. I was inspired to post when I saw a Yarn contest running. It was the Build With Yarn Contest. I wanted to enter so I made these plastic canvas Daffodils. I thought they were cute, but I had horrific pictures of them. I'm sure that's why I didn't win. I was slow at first with posting, but then I saw they were hiring interns and I knew if I wanted to work there someday, I would need more and better Instructables.
When did you first learn tatting and what got you started?
Here on the site! Goes with my story of discovering Instructables. So once I saw tatting, I knew I would have to learn how to do it. I watched TotusMel's video many, many, many times before I even got my tatting needles. I even tried to practice tatting with embroidery floss and a sewing needle. Just so you know, that definitely does not work. Don't do it. I just stabbed myself a bunch of times. Once I got my needles I just kept making that simple flower over and over until I was comfortable with it and from there I knew I would have to make up my own designs. I've never been the best at following other peoples directions. I've always preferred doing things my own way and making things up (I went to a card making class with my mom and it was a card with strawberries on the front, so of course I made the strawberries green with red leaves. I mean, if you do things the same as everyone else, how do you come up with something different?). It has been slow going, but I think I have come up with some cute tatting designs.
this is where the photos happen!
Of all the projects you've posted, what's you favorite?
I want to say Cookie Brownie Pie since it was so darn tasty and did way better on the site than I thought it would. But, I think I would say Bow Tatted Necklace. It was one of my first featured projects on the site and it was featured the day before I interviewed here and I took it as a sign that I was meant to work at Instructables. I had first posted it as a Photo Instructable because I just hadn't taken any pictures while I made it. So many people liked it and it just felt so good to have people like something I made! And not just something I made, but something I designed too!
If you could give one piece of advice to all of the authors on Instructables, what would it be?
Just keep trying at everything you do. There have been so many times that I have wanted to give up on learning a new craft (like crochet) or wanted to scream and hurl a project across the room because it just won't look right (like my Amigurumi Mega Man), but if I gave up I know I would always regret not completing what I set out to do. I know Mega Man is just a silly doll, but it feels good knowing that even though it was so frustrating at times and even though I lost feeling in my finger while working on it because I gripped the crochet hook too hard while working on it, I still finished it and I can look at it every day on my desk and think I made that.
Nicole's yarn stash
You document all sorts of projects - what's your favorite kind of project to do?
Tatting. It's one of my more recent craft areas of interest. I feel like there is so much potential in that area and even though it is becoming more popular now, there is still so much that can be done with it. Every time I go to make something (not food) I wonder how I could do it tatting as well. It's fun to try to adapt it to different areas besides doilies and hanky borders as is traditional.
Your favorite part of working for Instructables?
Getting to look at awesome projects all day! It's fun to just see what everyone is making and to just want to make things all the time. I like that I can sit at my desk and just tat something and not feel like I'm slacking. And, of course, I love that each day is full of surprises. You just never know when a flying monkey is going to slam into your cup of hot apple cider and spill all over your laptop. Never dull here, that's for sure :)
Any ugly duckling projects or food fails that we'll never get to see? :D
I wouldn't say never (since I never give up, right!), but there are some things I don't want to show yet. There is this under bust vest. It was one of the first things I made after I started working here and my first real sewing project I took on. I'm not happy with how it turned out and couldn't get a good picture of the finished project. So it sits as a draft maybe never to be finished. I'm hoping to remake it someday.