Kelly Hogaboom, Q&A


Kelly Hogaboom has always had a creative heart. As a young girl, she sewed her own clothes. And, as an adult she’s become quite a writer, recently launching a new zine in Hoquiam called Tumblehome, focused on creativity and life-inspiring stories.

“My family moved here into my great-grandparents home in Hoquiam when I was 8,” she said. “I consider Hoquiam my hometown, although I took many years off to go to school and work in Seattle and then Port Townsend, respectively.”

Hogaboom, 35, is married to Ralph, an IT specialist at Grays Harbor College, who is well known in local music circles. She and Ralph celebrate 11 years of marriage on Sept. 8. Their children are Phoenix Fire, 10, and Nels, 8.

“I am a self-published and professional writer, a seamstress and craftivist, a homebirth and breastfeeding advocate, an anti-racist and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgender) activist, a volunteer working with alcoholics and addicts, an engineer-cum-unschooling parent, and a B-movie fanatic,” Hogaboom said. “I have almost zero musical talent but secretly wish I was in a band, just like my husband is. I’m a good family-style cook and hustled my own micro-catering subscription service under the management of my children. My children are absolutely the most tender, fierce, and inspiring forces in my life.”

For the unitiated, explain what a zine is and the difference between that and a typical magazine. What’s the purpose of your zine?

Traditionally zines (pronounced like “magazine”) were small circulation, self-published, often countercultural, created without advertisements, and often produced on stolen time using pilfered supplies. I don’t steal anything but otherwise, that pretty much describes my Tumblehome project. The purpose of my zine is like the purpose of the millions and millions of words I’ve written: to make a connection with other human beings. In addition, this zine ships out all over the world and I’d like to think we bring some of Hoquiam’s awesomeness to those far corners.

This is not the first time you’ve done a zine in Hoquiam. What made you decide to bring it back and try it again and what makes it special? Where does the name Tumblehome come from?

I was asked by several people to start a zine back up again. Flattery gets results! Since this is my third zine project, I have learned a bit during previous iterations. I designed this publication to be within my limited abilities. The name Tumblehome comes from boat design; it’s a structural consideration that keeps a boat stable and safe. There’s nothing particularly special about my zine except I’d like people who read it to experience respite, gladness, humor, edification, courage and hope.

Is the zine exclusively written by you and your husband? If not, where do you find the content and how can someone submit content?

You can find current and archived issues at the website, tumbleho.me, or by contacting me via email or phone (kelly@hogaboom.org or 360-500-3287). You can also pick up printed copies at Gray’s General Store in Hoquiam, my sole distribution outlet. I am more than pleased to receive content; anyone with original images, artwork, photographs is encouraged to submit. If your submission is accepted you receive a paper copy gratis and my undying gratitude.

What inspires you in your design and cover choices for the zine? How much of what you do is automated?

I have always enjoyed graphic design. My greatest inspirations are my children and the other children I know, as well as the stunning physical beauty of where we live. Very little of my zine is automated. I keep track of recipient addresses and a ledger using Google docs; I personally send out thank yous to all who donate, and handletter envelopes personally. We do the folding and stapling. It’s a lot of work!

Where can I pick up a copy or subscribe and how often does it come out?

You can visit tumbleho.me/buy for the latest issue or you can contact me as per abovementioned contact information. I currently offer per-issue subscriptions or donations rather than annual subscriptions. 10 percent of all donations go to a local cause, which is then published at the website. All other funds go toward printing the next issue so my ledger balance is always zero. Donations of paper, 6-inch by 9-inch envelopes, or lovely cardstock are appreciated.

The zine comes out once a month during the summer months of June, July, August and September; then Nov/Dec, Jan/Feb, Mar/April. I print in small, hand-assembled lots, since our family spending plan doesn’t allow for large scale printing or professional services.

Besides your writing career, your creative styles spill over into the realm of sewing and producing your own clothes. Is that something you’ve always done since you were a young girl or a new talent you’ve picked up? What challenges have you faced in this arena?

I sew custom clothing, pattern test for companies, and design clothing and embroidery patterns. I’ve sewn since about age 8, I think; I can’t remember not knowing how to sew. I didn’t start getting serious about it until after my children were born (my children absolutely have brought out the best in me in every arena of my life). As for challenges, there is a misconception that home seamstresses adore sewing anything as a favor, and that they’re interested in sewing at wages comparable to overseas labor costs. I also get lonely as a craftivist around here. I make garments and it seems most crafters in this area quilt, crochet, or knit.

I teach a few classes at Grays General Store and I’m the sewing instructor up at Grays Harbor College, leading a course this fall for beginners and intermediates. I love teaching almost as much as I like creating!

You’ve also become quite an expert in the “unschooling” movement, while also explaining that children shouldn’t always be afraid of strangers. Can you explain these philosophies for people who may be interested in this line of thought?

The last time I was regaled as an unschooling “expert” I ended up featured in a national publication in the most unflattering manner! I am an expert in nothing except my own life experiences. As for strangers, far too many adults and children are taught to be frightened. Fortunately, we can unlearn these attitudes.

I’ve written extensively about unschooling at both my personal blog and my social well-being site (kelly.hogaboom.org and underbellie.com, respectively). I always welcome parents or adults who want to talk to me about raising children, frustrations and fears and the whole lot. Kids are hands-down my number one passion!