Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause
“It started with a pillowcase dress…and grew into a worldwide movement: crafters using their passion to help those in need. The Craft Hope blog-which organizes crafters to make handmade items for charities-has attracted followers around the world. This book, written by the site’s founder and featuring crafting’s hottest start, celebrates the cause and encourages others to join in.
Each project is matched with a specific charity, with alternative suggestions for local places to contribute the item. The projects-all with beautiful photographs, step-by-step instructions, and templates-include: cheerful quilts for hospitalized children, soft dolls for Nicaraguan orphans, tug toys for animal shelters, knit gloves for homeless shelters, a cloth backpack for schoolchildren in Africa, a stylish purse for women moving out of abusive relationships, and knit scarves for fostercare teens heading off to college. Contributors range from fabric designers Amy Butler and Heather Bailey to popular authors and bloggers such as Amanda Soule (www.soulemama.com, Handmade Home), Karri Meng (French General), Amy Ray (Doodle Stitching), Celine Dupuy (Simple Sewing with a French Twist), Vickie Howell (Craft Corps), Cathie Filian (Creative Juice), Susan Wasinger (Eco Crafts), and Betsy Greer (Knitting for Good).
In addition, there are plenty of helpful tips on how to give locally and globally, how to give thoughtfully and appropriately, and how to empower those you are helping.” → 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!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Gemma Correll’s work. Gemma is a well-known freelance illustrator who also makes greetings cards, screenprinted tote bags and T shirts, pocket mirrors and art prints. Her Etsy shop is my go-to place for funny cards and gifts for my husband, who also loves Gemma’s work!
Gemma has been crafting her whole life, beginning with sewing, knitting and crochet, which she was taught by her grandmother. While at college, she started to make plush characters to accompany her illustration work, and she considers this to be her first ‘serious’ foray into crafting. At the same time, Gemma began to sell her plush characters and felt brooches at bi-monthly craft fairs, organised by Gemma and her friends.
When a friend told her about Etsy, which was not well-known in the UK at the time, Gemma decided to start selling online too. She’s since expanded her reach, selling in shops worldwide and online via her own fantastically illustrated website and Etsy shop, as well as the odd craft fair.
As well as selling handmade items, Gemma is a big fan of buying as many handmade products as possible and would much rather find something unique than buy items from large companies, as she feels there’s more of a personal touch. Unfortunately, Gemma has in the past had ideas stolen by large companies, which is a concern for many independent designer-makers and can put many people off sharing ideas with the wider handmade community.
“In five years’ time, I hope that I am still crafting for fun. As I spend more time working and outsourcing products, rather than making them myself – I simply do not have the time or the facilities to print 500 tote bags by hand, sadly – I hope that I can still enjoy making things just for myself. I hope that I’m still going to craft nights with my friends.”
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
Natural materials, simplicity and practical (multi)usage of what I make. Not that I hate things that just exist but I feel that we are to much attached to things that serve only once and only to one, particular purpose. And once used they finish in garbage. I want my creations be usable for “this” and “that” and by “big” and “small”. And they are washable !!!
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I started with jewellery that is still my main craft activity. I also knit a lot – basically for kids. Than the idea of filling home with some colours and simple, funny things came. This is how I started Frigg Studio. I am really at the very beginning of the whole Frigg universe creation. My head is exploding with ideas but I am a little bit missing time to have everything done.
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
I work alone and only alone. I ask my husband’s opinion when I finish.
Crafting is really fun for me. I create when I feel like. Nothing can be forced – it does not work for me. I put on sale almost items that are finished. That is why my shop is not that full …. But I prefer having fun creating something than working on order.
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
I have also some clients among my family friends – they especially love the aprons :-)
Thank you Anna! And if you would like to appear in this space next, just head over to DIY Interview.