Author Spotlight: Meg Allan Cole




Tour de force Meg Allan Cole might have started her crafting career humbly with kiddy cosmetics, but she's now one of the most celebrated makers out there. With her own site, clever videos, and two adorable pups, her projects nicely mix a clean aesthetic with a sense of humor. I had a chance to ask her more about her creations, what it's like to rub elbows with Martha, and what her plans are for Halloween this year. 

When did you start making things? Do you remember what your first project was?

I’ve always made things and recall mixing my own perfume in the backyard of my childhood house. I moved out of that house at age 5 so I must have been no older than 4. “Mixing my own perfume” consisted of soaking tiny flowers in water, mushing it up, and forcing the concoction into a tiny jar, and like a lunatic I thought it would smell good. That was a short-lived line, I soon graduated to using Kool Aid as lipstick in another flash in the pan line of cosmetics.

How did you discover Instructables and what inspired you to start posting projects?

Back in the early days of this lovely DIY online community, there weren’t a lot of places to go to find cool projects and inspiration. It was pretty much Instructables, Threadbanger, and Make. I started out in the video world making videos for Threadbanger so it was definitely Rob & Corinne who introduced me to Instructables. I started posting my own videos on here when I created my own independent YouTube channel, Meg Allan Cole Crafts.

What is the value of sharing your how-to's online? What are the types of projects we won't see on Instructables?

I put so much time and energy into every project and piece that I make. When you share that with our community, the energy you put into your work comes back to you, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s really fun to see what resonates with people, and I really love seeing what something I make might inspire someone else to create. On Instructables I share the more maker-heavy projects, but I have some more DIY lifestyle videos and posts on my own YouTube channel and blog, like 7 easy ways to throw a kick-ass party or stuff like that.

Where do you look to find inspiration?

Everywhere. In art, movies, my archive of Domino magazines, design and lifestyle blogs, and now with Pinterest there’s no end to inundating my over-stimulated brain with inspiration. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Why do you make your projects?

I have always been compelled to communicate with people, directly and through creative expression. I’ve always painted, drew, made my own creations, and I studied theater and film in school. I am happiest making and creating and sharing work with my peers and our incredible DIY community. And my dogs.

Your two dogs, who often co-star in your project videos, are adorable! Can you introduce us?

Thank you! They are the best. Gracie Strudel is our Chihuahua mix, who we rescued 8 years ago. She is a warrior in a tiny adorable package. How she fits so much love and loyalty in such a small body baffles me. Our beagle Milo Shoeshine is also a rescue, and the cutest and sweetest little guy. They are both hilarious and just the best friends you could ever dream of. They are the lights and joys in my life and are wonderful individuals who make our family and life better every day.

Do you keep a lot of your projects you make for yourself and your home?

Yes. At a certain point I was bordering on being a DIY design hoarder. I recently moved and gave a bunch of my creations to friends to lessen the load.

Are you excited to start customizing your new home with fun DIY projects? What’s the first you hope to do?

I just moved 2 weeks ago we are in a new beautiful space that feels like a fresh start and a blank canvas. The first DIY install that I’m going to do is suspend 3D paper triangles from the above my work space. The triangles were a part of a geometric paper sculpture I made for a video for MAKE.

Your YouTube channel features a lot of cool video projects. When did you start documenting your creations on film, and were there any bloopers along the way?

There are LOTS of bloopers, especially when you do things like dress up as a disco unicorn and talk to a camera in an empty apartment. I started making things and documenting the process in 2006 while I was working on the pitch for Décor It Yourself, my DIY home décor show that aired on Threadbanger. My dear friends, the DIY rockstars Rob and Corinne Czar, traveled to NYC for one of the very first episodes of Threadheads on Threadbanger and interviewed me on my green Etsy shop. They saw my home, my creations, and my DIY home and lifestyle blog, Nest, and asked me if I’d like to have my own show on their trailblazing site. Since having an HGTV show has been my dream for the last decade, I jumped at the chance and have been DIYing on camera and sharing it every since.

Of all the projects that you have posted, which is your favorite? Do any of them have a good story behind the making-of?

I absolutely love the design and aesthetic of my 3D geometric wall sculpture that I salvaged for the aforementioned suspending triangles. I created it for a video for MAKE the week I was prepping for The Martha Stewart Show, so it was truly the busiest and most creative work week of my life. It was a huge undertaking requiring 80 hand cut triangles and 240 hand cut and glued sides to those triangles. It was worth every hand-cramp to get the finished product up on our wall.

You were on the Martha Stewart Show! What was that experience like?

It was a dream come true, a bucket list item checked off, and most terrifying undertaking of my career. I taped the Martha Stewart Show in college and have archives of Martha Stewart Living from years back. Martha is my favorite and my idol, so I was incredibly humbled, honored, and (who are we kidding) terrified to meet her and work by her side. But everyone who worked with The Martha Stewart Show and prepped me the week leading up to the shoot day were so lovely, so friendly and helpful that the entire experience was so lovely. One of my best friends came with me and was my “badass manager” for the day and helped make it less intimidating and more fun. And Martha, was amazing! She was so warm and complimentary and laughed at my jokes and showed a photo of my rescue dogs which made my whole life better. It was just a dream come true experience.

You’re based out of NY. How is the DIY scene there?

NYC is an amazing place to live with art, culture, and inspiration everywhere. I am surrounded by such talented artists and designers, it’s really incredible. I <3 NY and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

A bunch of your Instructables are costumes, with friends featured in the videos. Did you all have a good time pulling these together? Were any of the costumes worn on Halloween?

My friends are so awesome and sweet to come and wear whatever crazy concoction I put them in. My husband has been everything from David Bowie to Teen Wolf and is an excellent sport about it all. We have such a good time staging shots and making costumes be as big and bold as possible. The 80’s costume shoot was one of the funnest shoots ever with my buddies Dave and Daron being amazing Goonies. Goonies never say die, but sometimes they DIY. Oh brother. Sorry.

Any big DIY plans for Halloween this year?

My husband and I were going to go as Walter White and Pinkman last year but Halloween was actually cancelled due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, so I definitely want to do something really creative this year to reclaim the holiday. Ideas are percolating and I’m still figuring out exactly what I’m going to be. But I DO know that I am making a little penguin costume for one of my best friend’s baby, Estella, to go as for Halloween. I am really excited about the cuteness factor there.

If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?

It’s really easy the ever-present internet to get over-influenced by what other people are creating and putting out there. As Nene Leaks says “you gotta do you”. Truly, there are so many people putting their ideas out there, but there is only ONE individual you with your style, personality, and sense of humor. Breath your individuality into everything you do and be authentic to who you are. It’s true at every age and on every level.