It's a van thing! German vanner Kerstin Maass and her cool van-themed crafts



Kerstin and the MonsterChanneling a bit of Martha Stewart myself, I got really excited when I came across Kerstin’s awesome handmade “van” STUFF. Cool vanner patches, ceramic garden van shaped planters, little van soaps. Hell, this woman also makes her own moonshine and then spikes her homemade van shaped gummy candies! I can’t remember how we connected, I think it was via other vanner facebook friends, but boy am I glad to have her as an international crafting and vanner buddy –– cause she’s damn cool. As Kerstin says, “It’s a van thing!” Woo hoo to that!


Interview with Kerstin Maass by Beth, May 2018.


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Name, age, where do you live?
Kerstin, 45, near Stuttgart in Germany.

Do more what makes you happy patchHow many vans do you own?
At the moment I own two vans. A 1977 Dodge Tradesman B200 and a 1980 Dodge. My hubby owns two too. A 1991 Chevy G20 hightop and a 1989 Chevy G20 lowtop. So we have four vans.

And what are their names?
Mine are named Silver Ghost and Rusty. His are Monster and Lemmy.

What kinds of customizing have you done on your vans?

We started to customize the Monster first because it was our first van. We did the paint job together, and I did the interior, all the embroidery the curtains and the diamond ceiling. I also did the watertransfer skulls and cupholders. Almost two years ago we started to restore the Silver Ghost. I saved her from a kind of scrap yard. The previous owner started to sell her then decided he wanted to keep and restore her. Then he became overhelmed with the work so he decided to sell her again. Ivan Benic knows the Silver Ghost and told me I should try to save her if possible. He did the clear coat and the roof.

Kerstin doing the van waveThe Silver Ghost has been a complete restoration. We took off all the old paint, took the engine out. Even the axles came off. There was a lot of welding to do. At the moment we are sanding the whole van to get her ready for a new paint job. When the silver paint is done then she will get her mural back.

When we have finished the Ghost we will start with Lemmy. Lemmy will be getting a new paint job too and a customized interior. At the moment it’s pretty original.

How long have you been a vanner?
About six years.

quoteWhat is the van scene in Germany like?
The scene in Germany is a bit different. It's a bit like a gang. If you meet vanners online there is a great team spirit but if you meet vanners in person it's sometimes hard to make friends. Especially if you are a newbie. Most of the vans here aren’t customized on a high level. But there are some exceptions. The work you do on your van isn’t always respected by everyone. It’s a kind of sad cause we have the same interests. I can be happy for someone who’s following their dream.


Are you in van club?
We are independent. I don’t like clubs but we met some other independent vanners from Sweden so we are thinking of making a club for non-clubbers. LOL.

Van planterYou need to mee the Gypsy Vanners from Bakersfield, that’s kinda what they do! Do you go to vanning events?


Have you been to any vanning events in the USA?
Not yet but the plan is to fly to the 50th Van Nats in a few years. I already have a piggybank started for it.

Have you been to any vanning events in other countries?

Not pure vanning events, they are rare here in Europe, but we visit a lot of car shows, in Switzerland, France. This year we are going to a van meeting in Sweden. I have also been to hot rod shows in England, the USA and Belgium but this was a long time ago, before I became a vanner.

What do you think of the current van scene today?
That’s very difficult to answer. I can't have an opnion of the vanning scene in the USA because I only know it from the internet. Most of the vanners I meet online are very kind and helpful. I found out who did the mural on Silver Ghost and who was the oringinal owner. I also met nice vanners online who helped me get spare parts for Ghost because they aren’t available in Germany. That’s really great and I'm thankful for all the help I get.

What are your favorite places to take your van?

To vanning events or cruising around.

quoteHow and when did your lust for vans begin?

Approximately six years ago when we bought our first van, the Monster. Before that I was more into 50s cars. A van was almost like a monster to me, I didn’t like them! I didn't even take a look at them at meetings. Then I needed a bigger car to visit events with my booth. I needed a car where I could transport my stuff and that we could sleep in. So we bought the Monster and I fell in love with this vanning thing.


Do you roll any other wheels?
We love cars. We have here four Golf MK2s. One Golf MK1 Rabbit. A 1967 Camaro RS/SS a 1956 Chrysler Windsor, a REO M35 Multifuel and a 1982 GMC Sierra Classic long bed. And four vans!


WOW!! That's a lot of wheels!


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So you like to make van-related art projects, let’s talk about those. I know you make van-related patches, planters, embriodery on all kinds of stuff! I’ve seen the embroidered shoes! What else?
I was sick of looking for unique things like my van planter. If you live here in Europe / Germany you can’t find things like that to buy. All of the van stuff is very rare or you have to buy it overseas and it is very expensive. That’s why I decided to make things on my own.


It's a van thing!I started with patches. I own an embroidery machine so it wasn’t difficult to make patches or the van embroidery on shoes. I always wanted to have unique shoes… so I made them myself!


I made molds first for small vans. So I made van soaps and candles. Then I tried another silicone, that’s food safe, so now I can make van chocolate and moonshine gummy vans (moonshine, jelly and a bit sugar).


Then I made a bigger mold for the planters.


Ideas for future van-art projects?
Van pillows, a small bonfire basket, a bigger planter. I tried to make some planters from cement so you can put them outside in the garden.


Where do you sell them?
Here in Germany I have a small booth at the meetings (van events) but sometimes I sell my stuff worldwide.


Vanner for Life patchesDo you make other art that’s not van-related, and if so, what?
I have an embroidery machine, so I do a lot with embroidery. And I like to sew.

What do you do for day job?
I work in quality management for a company that makes parts for aviation.

Chevy, Ford, or Dodge?

Chevy and Dodge.

KerstinPleather or shag?

Aaaaaaaaaaaw blue velvet.

Ass, gas or grass?


Sky’s the limit, describe your ULTIMATE wet dream van.

I already got mine. As soon as I saw Silver Ghost I knew it this was love at the first sight!


Do you have a website for all your work?
Not anymore, I shut it down, social media is better than a website! People can find me on my Blue Swallow facebook page.


Any last words for DON’T COME KNOCKIN’?
Thank you so much for this interview, I’m really exited.


PICTURED ABOVE: Kerstin, her vans, and some of her cool crafty projects! Check out her Blue Swallow facebook page for even MORE groovy van stuff for sale.




Don’t Come Knockin’