Have Glue Gun, Will Travel

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Her fans include Helena Bonham Carter and film director Tim Burton, and her line of funky Chicano folk art has been featured in better boutiques for more than a decade. Kathy Cano Murillo is everywhere these days: a regular on KPNX-TV Channel 12's Arizona Midday; author of a nationally syndicated crafting column; and a perennial guest on cable craft shows and at local crafts fairs alike.

Murillo's newest book, Crafty Chica's Art de la Soul, includes journal entries about her various crafting adventures and proves not only that crafting isn't just for grannies anymore, but that, done right, it can lead to fame and fortune.

Robrt L. Pela: What the heck is a crafty chica, anyway?


Kathy Cano Murillo

Kathy Cano Murillo: I invented that term. A crafty chica is someone who is crafty with the glue gun but also crafty about life. When everyone is going through the front door, a crafty chica says, "I'm gonna check to see if there's a window open." And there's always a window open.

Pela: I guess crafting has been with us forever -- I remember my mom making Christmas ornaments out of empty Jet-Dry containers -- but it seems like all of a sudden, everyone is gluing macaroni to stuff. What's going on?

Murillo: There was this huge resurgence in crafting about five years ago, and a lot of people attribute it to 9/11, which led to people wanting to stay close to home and nest. But crafting is a whole different scene now. It's not just about crocheted toilet paper covers.

Pela: Apparently it's also about embellished mannequin heads.

Murillo: I know! That's my new thing. I was trying to think of something that hadn't been done before, something with the altered art scene, and I had these mannequin heads. So I painted one with a Frida Kahlo mustache, and put glitter on the eyes. So far I've only done two, which I hope means I'm not too schizo.

Pela: But you are kind of all over the place lately. I can barely turn on the TV without seeing you.

Murillo: Ever since the new book came out, it's been crazy. When the crafting boom hit about five years ago, I was luckily one of the people who had a crafting Web site at that time. That led to book deals and TV offers and endorsements. All kinds of crazy things. I even got invited to teach a workshop in Tuscany later this year -- every crafter's wet dream! And I'm doing the Carnival Cruise Lines in September.

Pela: You mean, like, crafting on a boat?

Murillo: Right! Crafting cruises are really popular these days. There are beading cruises, quilting cruises, knitting cruises. The one I'm doing starts in Long Beach at the Museum of Latin American Art, then we go to Ensenada to shop, then one whole day of crafting. With cocktails!

Pela: So where's the Kathy Murillo Show?

Murillo: Well, I just signed a development deal with a television production company in L.A., and we're putting together a pilot for the cable networks. Even if it doesn't happen, I'm still thrilled I got this far. I just did a bunch of guest spots for different shows on the DIY network, and my agent just pitched me to Rachael Ray's producers as a regular on her show. We'll see.

Pela: This is your fifth book. Aren't you running out of ideas for how to turn glue and bottle caps and an old cigar box into something useful?

Murillo: Not yet, but writing a weekly craft column for the newspaper has been a challenge sometimes. I worry that I'll start repeating myself, and that makes me want to vomit. But if I do, I'll probably vomit glitter!

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