By now you may have seen the premiere episode of Making It, which premiered last Tuesday and features BFF executive producers/hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Making It is a uniquely lighthearted competition series celebrating the creativity and craftiness in all of us.
In this six-episode competition, Jeff Rudell, an openly gay man, is one of the eight super talented makers that will compete with the hopes of impressing Poehler, Offerman and the expert judges, Simon Doonan and Dayna Isom Johnson through various crafting challenges.
Because Jeff’s father worked in a paper mill when he was growing up, his background of working with cardboard, foil and tissue molded him into the creative paper props craftsman he is today. He creates for clients such as Tiffany & Company, Unilever, New York Botanical Gardens, and a wide range of print and online publications. He currently lives in New York with his husband and an enormous grey cat named Smokey.
It was a pleasure to sit down with cast member Jeff Rudell for this exclusive Hotspots Interview.
At what age did crafting become an interest?
I come from a crafting background, as I grew up in a farm in Michigan. My mom made quilts and my dad was a woodworker. From very early on, I was encouraged to make my own things. When I was 8, the first thing I made was a fake typewriter. I still have it, it sits on a shelf in my studio.
When did crafting become your full time profession?
In 1989, I left my Job in the American Academy in Rome as I got an opportunity to do window displays at Tiffany’s. I was lucky enough to meet the guy who hires for that and he loved my projects and the rest is history. I became the head of visual merchandising at Tiffany’s.
What is the most expensive thing you ever sold?
I made a little tiny job while watching TV. It was for a photo shoot for a shampoo company and I got paid $10,000 for such a small amount of work. The reason I got paid so much is there was a usage fee.
What is the best thing you have ever made?
Popular opinion would be a series of Baroque inspired French Wigs. They are very elaborate and beautiful and have a lot of visual impact. However, my favorite piece is a little tiny book that had a poem that I wrote. I put this book in a hollowed out walnut with a hinge and had a sign that said “Open Me.” I sent this to all my clients the first year I was in business. I didn’t have very much money, so I had to send something that didn’t cost a lot. I wanted to thank all the people that took a chance on me. I think I spent $10 for everything and it has reverberated throughout my career.
How did you get cast on “Making it”
I am somewhat known in my area and they sent out a casting call. It was appealing to me, so I applied. I got a huge amount out of it.
How was it to work with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman?
Amazing, as they are exactly as they appear on TV. They are funny, and real, and have a straight forward approach. They were very generous and hospitable. Nick is a master craftsman, and Amy claims to not have a crafty bone in her body, but that’s not true. She is super inquisitive and creative.
Have you stayed friends with the other contestants?
I have. We all have, kind of. Everyone was very friendly, supportive and warm on the set.
How long have you been with your husband and was it hard to be away from him while filming?
I have been with my hubby since 2003, and I have only been away from my husband on 2 occasions. When I was cast on the Martha Stewart Apprentice show in 2005 and then again now when we filmed “Making It.” It was really hard to be away from him, but it helped that he is a gigantic reality TV fan.
What do you do for fun?
I do crafting for fun. Even though it’s my job, I love doing it. I also love to cook, entertain friends and work out.
What does the future hold for Jeff?
I don’t have any idea, but that’s the exciting part. I live in the moment. I get ahead by saying yes to the new jobs. I hope I will get more interesting work, and larger scale work.
For more information on Jeff, check out his website at: Jeffrudell.com, or you can catch him on Twitter or Instagram: @Jeffrudell.