The man with the hot glue gun tattoed on his forearm is Paul Lowe, aka, “Sweet Paul.” Florist turned stylist-cooking-craft maven, his work has inspired countless people, from art directors to his legion of Sweet Paul Magazine fans. His first book in the U.S., Eat and Make: Charming Crafts and Recipes You Will Love, will be published on April 1, 2014. Publishers Weekly caught up with Paul recently, as he tried to wait patiently for the first copy of his book to be delivered.
Would you have predicted nine years after arriving in the U.S., you’d be sitting in your apartment waiting for the UPS man to bring you your cookbook?
No. I guess I hoped, but no. I am super-excited about it. It’s been kind of like a fairy tale. It all started with my blog. I started my blog out of simple blog-envy, because a friend of mine had a blog and she got comments and I thought I would like to have a blog and get comments. Then I had to figure out what I was going to blog about, and I thought, I’ll just use my blog instead of having a website with my work. So, I started blogging about my work and it just took off. The idea of having my own magazine, that’s always been in the back of my head.
Is it true that you decided to go into print after you heard Gourmet had shuttered?
It was very close! I don’t believe that magazines are dead. I think what people have to do is find that balance between print and online. There is definitely a market for a print magazine that you can have on your coffee table. There are magazines that I will read on my iPad, but not all of them.
Your childhood in Norway seems so key to who you are. Is there an abiding central image that would sum up your childhood?
That one happy image would be me and my grandmother in the garden, picking vegetables in summer. We had a big garden and a vegetable patch and trees and berries and she was very much into the whole harvesting thing and I think of those days where we would pick things in the garden and make them into jams or jellies or chutneys. That smell—whenever I make jam or chutney--always reminds me of her. And the same with a couple recipes that I have from her that I make. I always think about it. My grandmother and my great aunt, I feel like they are always with me whatever I do.
Were you really obsessed with coffee pots as a kid?
Yes! I didn’t play with any toys. People would give me a toy and I wasn’t interested whatsoever. I was very interested in coffee pots. I have no idea why. I asked the shrink once and he said he had no idea either. I could sit the whole day and play and pour from one pot to the other. My grandmother told me a story—I can remember it a little bit—she took me to visit a friend of hers that worked in a church, and in the kitchen, on the stove, there was one of those huge coffee pots. We call it a “missionary pot,” and it could make coffee for 50 people. And I almost died. I had never seen anything so amazing in my whole life.
Tell us about your recipe for skillingsbollar—a cinnamon bun with marzipan.
They are awesome. My auntie claimed they got her her husband. So, I’m just warning you. You don’t know what might happen!
What makes an environment warm and welcoming to you? What makes you walk into a place feel at ease?
For me it’s like a mixture of things. It’s a mixture of old or new. I don’t like walking into a house and finding that it’s only one style. I like it when people try to do something different and personal. Not everything is from Ikea. Not everything is from West Elm. I like that whole mix and match. I didn’t use to like it. When I used to live in Norway, I had a very strict architectural style. When I moved here, because everything is so expensive, you couldn’t buy the same stuff. So I had to mix Ikea, flea market, Etsy and eBay. And that is what is fun about home décor and interiors. I don’t believe in any rules. I think you can do what makes you happy.