Janice Hagey-Schmidt: From a young age I was going to the library checking out craft techniques. I used to paint metal shapes and glass bottles as a kid. Later I progressed to throwing pots and bowls on a wheel. I was thrilled with the use of underglazes on porcelain. And then… one day I took a metalsmithing class at a community college. I have been working mainly with metal ever since. But… I make my living as a graphic designer. Metalsmithing is my art.
Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
“Today’s crafters are no longer interested in simply cross-stitching samplers or painting floral scrolls on china. Instead, the contemporary craft movement embraces emerging artists, crafters, and designers working in traditional and nontraditional media. Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching has revolutionized the embroidery industry. Each year Nikki McClure sells thousands of her cut-paper wall calendars. Emily Kircher recycles vintage materials into purses. Stephanie Syjuco manufactures clothing under the tag line “Because Sweatshops Suck.” These are just some of the fascinating makers united in the new wave of craft capturing the attention of the nation, the Handmade Nation.
Faythe Levine traveled 19,000 miles to document what has emerged as a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos. For Handmade Nation (along with the documentary film of the same name, coming in 2009) she and Cortney Heimerl have selected 24 makers and 5 essayists who work within different media and have different methodologies to provide a microcosm of the crafting community. Participants in this community share ideas and encouragement through websites, blogs, boutiques, galleries, and craft fairs. Together they have forged a new economy and lifestyle based on creativity, determination, and networking. Twenty-four artists from Olympia, Washington, to Providence, Rhode Island, and everywhere in between show their work and discuss their lives. Texts by Andrew Wagner of American Craft Magazine, Garth Johnson of Extremecraft.com, Callie Janoff of the Church of Craft, Betsy Greer of Craftivism.com, and Susan Beal, author of Super Crafty, supply a critical view of the tight-knit community where ethics can overlap with creativity and art with community. Handmade Nation features photographs of the makers, their work environment, their process, their work, and discussions of how they got their start and what motivates them. Handmade Nation is a fascinating book for those who are a part of the emerging movement or just interested in sampling its wares.” → more info
The spring craft market circuit is really starting to get fired up! This is an off week for me – but I attended shows the last two weekends. Craft markets are a great way to find local crafters & designers in your area and support local tourism at the same time. So I decided to peruse craft show listings to find inspiration for this week’s Shop Local post.
The Spring Bada-Bing, in Richmond, VA really jumped out! The show is in it’s fourth year and is hosted by the Richmond Craft Mafia (a member of the Austin Craft Mafia family) – whose slogan is “rubbin’ out the massed produced.” The SBB is held at the Plant Zero Arts Center, a community center with space for studios & apartments for artists, a cafe, & exhibition space. This year’s SBB will be help on Sunday, April 19 from 11 am – 4 pm.
A member of the Richmond Craft Mafia, Tasha McKelvey is a clay artist specializing in kitchenware & ceramic jewelry. She prides herself on creating art that is meant to be used & touched. She says, “today our homes are filled with stuff stamped out by machines. When we seek out handmade art we make our surroundings a little more human.”
I’ll admit it – the skulls caught my eye on this one! Crystal J. Silk uses traditional silk painting and dying techniques but creates anything-but-traditional patterns. Her work is vibrant, graphic, and quite hip. What would the boardroom think if you paired this silk scarf with a boring blank suit? Or just dressing up a T and jeans?
Erica Vess, who created this adorable “Up, Up & Away” digital print, is the brains behind BeesKneesStudio. Erica is VA born & raised and holds a BFA in painting & printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also creates acrylic paintings, tiny watercolors, and fine art prints.
Craft is certainly alive in Richmond, VA. Do you know of an emerging craft community? Please drop me at line at tara AT handmadeinpa DOT net.
Have I ever told you the story about the crazy lady who read my palms in the spring of 2008? If so, skip ahead…if not, here goes….
Carnival – Vintage Paper and Recycled Cardboard Uber Cuff (above) by butternutsquash
My son had somehow convinced me to take him to a mini-carnival/fundraiser thing that he had heard about through a friend at school. Admission, food and games were all by donation, so when we got there I just gave them twenty bucks and told them to give me as many tickets as they saw fit. Apparently, $20 gets you quite a bit at one of these things because we were given tickets for hot dogs, drinks, popcorn, cotton candy, games, face painting and a coupon for a 15 minute session with the palm reader.
Palm Reading Chart on Upcycled Dictionary Page by Collage-o-Rama
After we ate, played a few games of skill and wandered around for a while, my son decided to watch some sort of martial arts demo and I figured it was time to go see “Madam X”. I should go on the record as saying that although I am not against psychics in general, I don’t place that much stock in them and I doubt that I would actually pay to see one. I am sure that there are plenty of nice people out there with “enhanced intuition”, but what are the chances of finding one in a parking lot in New Westminster, BC?
Cotton Candy Upcycled Patchwork Armwarmers by Smarmy Clothes
Anyway, I sat down and it took me about 13 seconds to realize that this woman was either legit or completely nuts (or both), but I gave her my hands and the benefit of the doubt. She was all over the place, and at first I wondered if she was ever going to get going with my reading before my time ran out (she was even more random than me; which is saying something), but she eventually did and it was actually rather interesting.
Letterpress 100% Recycled Cardstock Fortune Teller by Sycamore Street Press
At the time, I was struggling with whether or not I should leave Vancouver and move back to my hometown, Winnipeg. I was at the tail-end of a relationship that really wasn’t worth putting any more effort into, but at the same time I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being a quitter. Of course, it was the first thing that she brought up and her advice, for what it was worth, was to leave. She said that I had done what I needed to do on the West Coast and I was ready to return to go home.
Dream – Recycled Magnetic Locket Set by This Years Girl
What really struck me most about my conversation with her was her insistence that if I made the move, I would become very active in my community and would work for a cause that I was very passionate about. Ever the literal one, I assumed at the time that she was referring to a physical “community”, like a neighbourhood. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a little on the apathetic side when it comes to civic politics, so I was curious (and a little doubtful) as to how that prediction would play out.
Recycled Billboard Banner Journal by NottyPooch
I realize now that the cause I am passionate in is handmade goods (and eco-friendly ones in particular) and the community that I have become active in is the wonderful crafts community, both locally and globally, thanks to this site. Not only am I happy making and selling my own goods, I am thrilled to be part of the fantastic Winnipeg crafts scene and get excited each and every week that I get to come here and feature a handful of makers from around the world.
I am still on the fence about whether or not the parking lot palmist could really see into my future, but I’m glad she planted the seed in my head and made me *want* to take an active role in something that I believe in. Well worth my $20, I’d say!
Eco-friendly Thank You Cards with Recycled Brown-Bag Envelopes by Tucci Paper Company
This week my post focuses on an issue that many designer-makers worry about – having designs copied. Unfortunately, it happens often and sometimes even by large retailers, making independent designers feel powerless. This is what happened to Eloise of HidenSeek and in the first of a two-post series, I talked to Eloise to learn about her experience.
In November 2009, Eloise became aware that stationery retailer Paperchase was selling a range of items, tote bags, notebooks and other paper goods, with a design that contained a girl that appeared to be traced from one of her artworks. The items were sold both in the UK and in the US and Eloise was alerted to the issue by concerned friends and fans.
“After a bit of panic, bewilderment and tea I contacted Paperchase, being sure that they wouldn’t want to have any part in copyright infringement,” Eloise explained. The company’s representatives replied that they thought the designs were substantially different and they were unwilling to take any action. “They seemed to imply that since the designs would not be reprinted after that run, it wasn’t a big deal anyway. After I explored my options and looked into hiring a lawyer, finding it impossibly expensive, I decided to just go public with my problem and seek for support from my fans and the community.”
Here’s where social media can come in extremely handy, as it enables the very fast distribution of messages to a global community. “It took innumerable complaint letters from people who read about my story, globally trending on Twitter, many newspaper articles and dozens of blog posts around the internet for things to start moving on the side of Paperchase.
“Finally, the designer that created the infringing design admitted that she had traced over the girl from my work. It should be noted that I never received any communication after the first reply for Paperchase regarding the matter and they only indirectly mentioned me in a kind of public semi-apology where they tried to set themselves up as a victim. Paperchase did remove the infringing designs from UK circulation but never offered compensation or settlement with me and they are still sitting on all the money they made from a known infringing design.”
When it came to the handmade community, Eloise explained that the vast majority of artists, designers and makers that she saw and met were very vocal about the issues. “Everyone tweeted, re-tweeted, blogged and wrote letters to Paperchase. I felt how other makers were empathising and putting themselves in my shoes, and that of course led to them speaking out in my support. It’s worth noting though that people from Etsy did write about my case and others in a personal capacity on the Etsy main blog and well done to them for taking a stand where other big names didn’t.”
“Certainly there was a lot of traffic back then and I’m still mentioned here and there when it comes to similar cases of infringement, but I wouldn’t wish anyone exposure like that because it did come with a price. The levels of stress were unbelievable. If this experience helped me at all, was because it was a crash course in real life media crises and I came out much more strong and confident.”
Check back next week when my post will feature top tips for protecting your work from infringement – and how to handle it if the worst happens.