RADCOW: I got Interested in Leather craft about a decade ago, when I was a teenager hitch hiking across Canada. On my travels I met a wonderful old hippy man named Longevity John. He was nearly 7 foot tall, with hair down his back, and eyes all full of kindness. He lived in a shotgun shack with no running water, or electricity, but made incredible and inspiring leather crafts and sold them on saturdays at the farmers market in town. John showed me a few things, and got the seeds of inspiration planted in me. The thought of someone making their living with their own 2 hands from thier crafts made my heart swell. Later, I got a job at a leather craft store, and began spending most of my pay cheques on tools, and most of my time playing with leather. Since then, the seed has grown, and I too make my living this way, selling here, and at festivals and craft fairs. I feel like I am on my true path, and I am eternally grateful to etsy, and to all of you who support hand crafters. You allow the creative instinct to grow and flourish. Thank you!
Jane of Sweet Dixie Designs began painting furniture as a creative outlet after graduating college 25 years ago. With a degree in Textile Design, painting furniture began as a fun outlet. She painted rocking chairs and stools to give friends as baby gifts and then it just grew into a business. Her experience ranges from painting large items such as armoires to smaller home accessories and she has sold them through craft shows and stores. After taking some time off from painting while her children were little, she wanted to get back to being creative. She found Etsy and opened her store selling photo frames in November. These frames are a great way to add color and pattern into your home decor and to showcase your special photos. Isn’t the little scalloped detail along the edges sweet?
Jane is inspired by what she sees happening in home decor magazines and even fashion magazines. You can definitely see her textile background in her fabric-influenced patterns.
I have always loved color and pattern and like the idea that at first glance it may look like the frame is covered in paper or fabric and then you realize that it is paint. My style isn’t really modern or traditional, I just like what I like.
Jane is a mom of three and her fourth child is her “Sweet Dixie” a rescued greyhound, her shop’s namesake. She enjoys finding new patterns and colors and hopes to add a variety of items to her shop as time goes on.
I think buying handmade is so important. After being out of the craft market for a while coming back into it I now see how many people make a living from their art. The time and care that goes into each item cannot be duplicated.
Sweet Dixie Designs frames would make great gifts for that upcoming baby shower or wedding. Go visit her shop, there are tons of great designs and color schemes to choose from!
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.
I’m back after a short break starting a new job and finishing a distance learning course. This week I’m writing about something close to home – Newcastle Craft Mafia (NCM). I grew up just outside Newcastle, in the North East of England, and was delighted to come across NCM, who encourage craft in and around my original hometown!
NCM is a collective who support each other’s creative ventures and enjoy sharing their love for all things crafted and handmade. Founded in 2009, the NCM follows in the tradition of craft mafias that are popping up across the globe – the first was established in Austin, TX in 2003.
Set up by Leeanne Lowe (Sitting on the Wall) and Cassandra Harrison (Gee How Quaint), NCM has grown quickly and now has 15 core members and 10 associate members across the North East, ranging from textile artists to childrenswear designers, jewelry makers, glass designers and knitters!
Leeanne and Cassandra met by chance at the 2009 Maker Faire in Newcastle. They quickly got to talking about their mutual love of the handmade, which eventually progressed to setting up NCM to promote the local handmade movement. “Our members come from a wide range of backgrounds and many have full or part time jobs – their craft business is a part time hobby (or compulsion),” explains Leeanne. “Some do pursue crafting as a full time role. All members give their time voluntarily to the administration, manangement and promotion of NCM, so considering that many members do have jobs, we find the support we have all that more special.”
NCM offers a range of services including monthly networking events, cross-promotion, workshops, collective stalls at local craft fairs and supporting creative gallery and pop-up-shop Made in Newcastle. Members’ wares are sold on the collective’s website and at music venue The Cluny and independent cinema the Tyneside Cinema, as well as via members’ own websites.
Leeanne really sums up many UK crafters’ feelings about our country’s handmade scene: “I think the handmade scene in the UK is still on the up. It is catching up to the American craft scene…We still have to fight with the high street for business, but the UK consumer is becoming more discerning and aware of what they can get from creative independent designers. People are now starting to search out more design lead, unique products for themselves and as presents for other and we think that this is evident in the popularity of the new online independent boutiques and online craft portals.”
So to our friends across the pond: let’s get the cross-Atlantic collaboration buzz going!