Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Meet Iowa Jewel Julie

When I was planning Country Weekend I had to have Iowa Jewel's collage kits—they epitomized my vision for the store: creative, vintage, and whimsical. 

When I contacted Julie she was enthusiastic--she even created special packaging and custom kits for the store. Visting her Etsy store (here) always makes me happy; exploring Lets go Canoeing, Birds in Winter, The Bermuda Triangle, Sherlock Holmes, Fears and Phobias, Circus Dreams, Along the Rocky Coast, Alfred Hitchcock, Firefly Magic, Our Mysterious Moon, and much, much more, fires up my imagination. 

You can also find prints and other vintage ephemera on Iowa Jewel. 

 Julie obviously loves what she does and has fun doing it. I recently discovered that she reads this blog, and was delighted when she agreed to do a little q and a, which I know that you'll enjoy. (As always, click on pictures to enlarge. Captions have links if you want to see more.)

Tell us a bit about yourself and what led you to making collage kits.

I live in a small town in Iowa with my husband and three kitty cats. My biggest dream is to travel the world but until that day comes I am happy to visit everywhere my imagination can take me in collage kit land. 

When I was little, my sister and I would make collages out of pictures from magazines and make up stories about adventures we would have traveling. It made the whole wide world come alive for me.  I have always found great joy and contentment in creating.

Where do you get the materials for the kits? 

I go to garage, library and book sales. I also shop on eBay and Amazon. Most of my books are children’s, science/reference and travel themed and are from the early 1900’s through the 70’s.  I have way over a 1,000 books, they are in every nook and cranny of our small house; let’s just say I have a very understanding husband!
Julie and her books

Where do you get your ideas for themes?

Mostly from my never-ending imagination! I am inspired by romantic places around the world. California is special to me. My love for animals and nature shows up a lot! I also love science and old Hollywood. I combined two of those in my Mad Scientist and Evil Doctor kits which are inspired by 1950's horror movies.

A lot of times I come across an image that I fall in love with and end up building a whole kit around that one picture. That happened with my San Juan Capistrano kit. Also I get many requests from my customers for custom kits, and they have ideas that I would never have thought of on my own.

Tell us about your work space and work habits. Do you work on several kits at once or one at a time?

I have a small (10x 10) studio that I share with my husband. Since I don’t have a lot of room, I am always looking for more efficient ways to store all the things I use making my kits. I also do my packing and shipping here so sometimes I set up a portable table and use our dining room table for overflow!  I have 2 long tables that my husband made for me and many shelves to hold my supplies.  I spend most of my time here so I am happy to have a big window that looks out over our beautiful backyard and lets in lots of natural light.

I usually listen to music on my laptop when I am creating.  Sometimes I watch movies and they influence the kits I make or I watch the movie that I am making a kit of to help me with images I will add. Example: when making Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound kit and watching the movie I included a real fork to go along with a famous scene where Ingrid Bergman draws lines with a fork on the table cloth.  I enjoy writing stories to go along with my kits too.

I am always working on many kits at once!  Right now I am making a journal for a friend and woodland animal kits for a custom order.  I keep a list of each kit I sell so I can remake one like it and I have a list of all the kits I want to make and am collecting images for too.

Julie in her studio

Do you ever hear from people who've bought your kits?

Yes!  I get lots of feedback and it’s all been positive!  I am so blest to be able to create something I love as a job that brings so much fun and happiness into other people’s lives.

What amazes me is all the different things my customers use my kits for.  Scrapbooking, travel journals and collage art are probably the main things but just recently one of my skunk kits was used at a skunk rescue fundraiser and mad scientist kits for decorations at child’s birthday party in Australia!


  1. Hello Jen:
    We have been most intrigued to read of Julie and her collage kits. She is obviously a most creative person and we are very taken with the kits that she has created.

    Her library at home is extensive to say the least and we should be most at home browsing along the shelves....the only problem being that it would probably take us a week to see everything.

    Yes, Jen and Julie, you seem absolutely made for each other.

  2. Dear Jane and Lance--I too would love to be let loose in Julie's library! She is definitely a kindred spirit.

  3. Very interesting sory and works! You are always enjoying something creative, and I love your way that doing your things with love you think about others. And, I'd like to add one thing to your vision for your store.It's nature.

    1. Haricot--You are right. Nature was my original inspiration/vision for the store! And the best thing about it (the store) has been the people I've met--including the readers of the blog!

  4. what a nice gal Julie is to do an interview and share her stuff on here. I went to the etsy shop I love the red fox one a lot

    very neato old and inspiring pictures
    - KAT -

  5. Great ideas. You learn something everyday. Julie lsounds like someone I'd like to know.

  6. Jen this is awesome. What a cool lady and a wonderfully creative idea! Thanks for sharing this. I am going to look her up!