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
Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials
Handprinting seems to be gaining in popularity in the handmade community, and it can be difficult for designer-makers to differentiate themselves. This week I’m talking with Alex Snowdon, a Cheshire-based graphic designer who sells beautiful handprinted bags, cushions and cards.
A few years ago, Alex realised that she missed the hands-on aspects of graphic design, as the industry became more computer-based. With a background in illustration and hand-lettering, she went back to university to study design and illustration, which she undertook while still working full-time. Alex loved the course and reconnected with crafting and printmaking, especially the joy of creating something with her own hands.
In 2009 Alex was offered a stall at a craft fair and frantically managed to print a small collection of bags and cards to showcase. The fair was a huge success and prompted Alex to set up an Etsy shop to widen her reach. Since then, she has made a lot of sales both on and offline, including wholesale to retail outlets in the UK and Australia – a dream for many crafters!
Alex still works full-time and crafts in her free time but would love to give up her day job eventually, even it that meant sacrificing a steady income. “I love the fact that someone has chosen to buy something that’s not mass produced, that they’re supporting the growing craft industry and basically, daring to be different. I love how the whole process is more personal when you’re buying or selling something handmade, for instance I always put a handwritten note in with my parcels – it’s just nice to have the human touch.”
Aside from crafting, Alex loves to travel and gains inspiration from her experience. She particularly draws on Chinese and European papercuts as well as Scandanavian design. Alex is also realistic about her goals and wants to work on promoting her products in order to increase her customer base. “I don’t really promote myself enough. I’ve been lucky so far in that people have approached me but I know that in order to make my business grow I’m going to need to put myself out there a bit more.”
Like many savvy designers, Alex already uses media-sharing websites like Flickr and takes advantage of the groups to share her work. She is now planning to set up a Facebook page for her designs and has identified shops in Manchester that she would like to approach.
Alex also sees the value of the handmade community for promoting work and sharing ideas. “The handmade scene in the UK is definitely growing and I think the support is there if you know where to look for it. The crafting scene is very big in North America and I think it will eventually be the same here. I think the economic downturn has also made people more concerned with getting value for their money and spending what they do have on something that’s unique and good quality, all the things that come with buying handmade.”
Do you have any advice or ideas to share on promoting your work? Post here or send me a tweet to @elliethouret.
I recently spent a few days in the midwest to see family. Some of you might know this already, but certain parts of the midwest are really more like little Scandinavian outposts. My family originally hails from Sweden, so I always feel myself drawn to all things Svenska.
West Coast of Sweden: LillaJizo
On the west coast of Sweden, scientists recently discovered the bones of a 10,000 year old whale… and I discovered the very fine designer LillaJizo and her little pieces of art that she creates on broken pieces of pottery. Historically, Jizo is a Buddhist helper/bodhisattva. He is considered to be the helper of all beings, especially children, women, and travelers. LillaJizo painted this “healing shard,” as she calls them, with Roku Jizo, or the Six Realms Jizo. I wish I had this healing shard to carry with me in my pocket when I was on my recent trip. LillaJizo also has a blog, where you can read more about her dedication to the yogic path.
Sverige, Sweden: Jealousy Designs
This hammered silver man’s ring is such an amazing gift for the guy in your life. I always love inside out rings–rings with the good stuff on the inside. Jealousy Designs’ use of natural, raw, and uncut stones, as well as the hammering of the metal results in pieces that are both masculine and feminine. Actually, many of her designs are one of a kind because she works around the natural shapes of the stones. Most of the metal materials she uses are recycled, and the only pieces of her jewelry she does not make herself are clasps and tiny chains.
Eskilstuna, Sweden: MayaLee on Etsy
Finally, how could I resist this simple photograph of a heart–it is almost Valentine’s Day, after all. To me this image is a perfect expression of how I see the Swedish aesthetic, always with color and light playing together in a crisp and fresh way, but with an appealing warmth to it too. MayaLee has other photographs in her collection where she captures the simplest of things, set against a light infused background. But I think this is my favorite, the little dappling light and the stick pins, like a metaphor of what love often is–not necessarily fleeting, but certainly not permanent–And oh how we wish it was.
I may be rebellious. I may despise conformity. But I am also, in some things, a creature of habit. During the holidays, for instance, I adore tradition. Until just last year I eschewed the idea of any deviation from what I considered a traditional holiday feast. Especially when the feast was to be had on Thanksgiving.
Turkey, mashed potatoes — in my defense I had deferred many years earlier to the advent of smashed potatoes as a time-saving substitute on this count — green beans, corn, biscuits, gravy, squash, cranberry relish, stuffing. It’s unclear whether or not (most likely not!) those who celebrated the real first Thanksgiving would have considered even a portion of my meal traditional, but my opinions have always stood nonetheless.