Thursday, May 1, 2008

Meet Up at Maker Faire

Marie is going to be up at Maker Faire this weekend and would love to see some of your shining faces--like in person. Drop a note to marimellodesign [at] gmail [dot] com, if you'd like to chat over some suds.

Charity Craft Volunteer Network Needs You!

Ann Randall of the Stitching Studio just dropped a note to let everyone know that Austin has a new resource for charity crafting:

I wanted to let you know about our new non-profit, Charity Craft Volunteer Network, is now up and running with a brand new website. Allyson Lipkin designed the logo for us and we are really happy with the progress this year. We supply handcrafted items to local hospitals, treatment centers, transitional family housing, hospices, breast cancer patients, even the local Humane Society and we want to invite everyone to join us in producing these gifts for those in need in the Austin area. Most of our projects are for sick children and the elderly but we have a bit of everything for lots of different crafters. Please visit the website to get the full picture and scope
of what we do.

We need you to help fulfill the vast commitments we have in the local area. We provide the materials, projects, workspace and equipment – you provide the time and talent and heart to get them done. A lot of people would like to use their skills in sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery and scrap booking but don't know what to make or where to donate it or can't afford the materials it takes to produce these items. We've been established informally in this area
for years and have projects and recipients waiting. Please consider donating your time for this very worthy effort.

We're also brand new – we got our tax exempt 501(c)(3) status in January of this year and we could desperately use donations of cash and materials. A few of our volunteers provide the majority of our materials, equipment and workspace and the burden is getting heavy on
them. We are applying for funding from various sources but that takes a lot of time and effort to see results so we are asking for individual donations to help get us through. If you have a stash of craft materials – fabric, yarn, etc. - that you've been meaning to clean out, please consider donating it. It's tax deductible and it will get used for non-profit purposes. We especially need cotton wovens with juvenile prints.

Drop them a note through the site, or send me an email if you'd like to be put in touch.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Stash Swap for Queen St. West Fire Victims

Memo to Prometheus: Maybe the gods kept the secret of fire for a reason.
Memo to the crafters: Prometheus's little trick on the gods left him with some pretty heavy consequences, but it left us with another reason to band together, help each other out, and get some really cool chiffon in the process.

Straight from the Toronto Craft Alert's mouth:

Fabric Swap Party

After a winter of hibernation and crafting, many of you have boxes and boxes of leftover or unused fabric. We have a way for you to clean out your unwanted fabric supply and have a heart. Fellow artisans and fashionistas can come find fabric, get rid of fabric and have a great time raising funds for some people who have lost a lot in the Queen Street West Fire. Our swap parties are not about politely trading one thing for another. Here’s how it works: You bring in all the fabric you are willing to part with. Rummage through your linen closets, hope chests and project boxes and purge all that you can. Then we neatly arrange all the fabric goodies on our studio work tables. You will have a chance to review all the contributions before we all dig in. Then the organized arrangement swiftly turns into rummage chaos. If someone gets that chiffon you were eyeing before you do, you might have to persuade them to trade with you. Join us for a cup of tea and share your fabric foibles at the swap. Get rid of your excess fabric. Trade trash for treasure. Be inspired by your fabric findings and help raise funds for a good cause.

Please RSVP at 416-481-7784 or

Date: Saturday April 5, 2008
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Admission: $10 (100% of proceeds goes to the Trust Fund to help the victims of the Queen Street West Fire)
All leftover fabric will be donated to charity.

Sew Be It Studio
2156 Yonge Street
Toronto ON M4S 2A8

[Images courtesy of Martin Reis and Kevin Steele.]

Friday, February 22, 2008

Craftivism: Shameless Magazine needs your crafty donations

Could it be that the Crafties are getting less charitable? Certainly not. It's just another indication that I haven't made it all the way through my email box. Sigh. Well here's a good one from our friends up a the Toronto Craft Alert. For those of you not familiar with Shameless Magazine, check out the web site here.

Dear crafty folks,

International Women's Day, March 8, is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate than supporting Shameless Magazine, Canada's smart, sassy and feminist magazine for young women?

We at Shameless believe that it's more important than ever that girls get healthy messages from media. Everywhere you look, there's pressure on young women to conform to impossible standards as they navigate a world that values how they look and not what they think. Shameless Magazine is a fresh alternative to typical teen magazines. It's for girls who know there's more to life than makeup and diet tips. Packed with articles about arts, culture and current events, Shameless reaches out to readers who are often ignored by mainstream media: queer youth, women of colour, feminists, artists, and activists.

Here's how you can help! Shameless will be launching our next issue at a special feminist dance party fundraiser on March 8. We are soliciting donation items for our raffle at this event. Please consider donating an item, service, or gift certificate from your business or organization to support Shameless Magazine. We will publicly recognize your support at the event and we may be able to offer you advertising space in our magazine.

Because Shameless differs from other teen magazines (and because we refuse to print ads that make girls feel bad about themselves) we rely heavily on community and reader support. Shameless is an independent, non-profit magazine with a very small budget. Help us bring the magazine to youth by contributing much-needed funds to help us cover printing and distribution costs, office supplies, community workshops and training for our volunteer staff.

If you have additional questions, please contact Pike Krpan for more information at 416 703 6848 or

Thank you for your support.


piKe Krpan and the Shameless event committee

Friday, February 1, 2008

Charity Craft Sale: Bleeding Hearts Benefit for the Sierra Club

From our pal Renee:

Today is the day folks!
Wolfie and the Sneak are hosting a One-day market to benefit the Sierra Club.

Why would we do such a thing??

Well, in 5 short days, the US will vote whether to place land up for lease for oil drilling in the Chuckchi Sea, and, well, we kinda like the polar bears up there, want them to feel at home and not too threatened. The Sierra Club has been working extra hard to get the word out while the rest of the world focuses on the newest Spears Sister debacle and the Primaries. We sure do thank 'em for it.

So here's your chance to buy your sweetie's Valentine's Day present, or just a little something for yourself. You'll find wearable goodies ("Hung Over" eye quilt, anyone?) to fine art to satisfy every style in all price ranges.

So we hope you'll stop by, take a gander, and buy a little something. And although we can't really guarantee what a polar bear roaring really means, we sure like to think they're yelling out at great big ol' thank you.

Bear Hugs and Puppy Kisses,
Renee, Charlie, Wolfie and the Sneak


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interview with Miriam of Crafter By Night

I really admire people who maintain vast resources on their web sites. The Craft Calendar is really an homage to people like Miriam of Crafter By Night because these resources take time and are no easy thing to maintain. I would eventually like to make Craft Arsenal a better resource, but then I though why bother when Crafter by Night is such a GOLDMINE of indie shops and craft charities. By day Miriam works for the People's Community Clinic in Austin, TX (posted a couple of weeks ago), which works to provide individual and families with high quality medical services at a reasonable cost. Not too shabby huh? I got a chance to interview this keen lady and talk about her perspective on the intersection of indie, craft and charity.

I guess I should start by addressing the fact that I posted about a benefit for an organization you work for AND contacted you for an interview about five minutes later, without knowing that you worked there. It makes the world feel like such a small place, but then the craft community is kind of like that.

It was fun to see my workplace referenced when I went to look at your blogs. The world in general is a small place - 6 degrees of separation! Cause for Drinks was pretty successful, too, by the way.

Tell me about yourself...your crafts, your blog.

I've been a crafter forever … I enjoy figuring new things out, and I enjoy the process. Most of the time I like the end result, too. It's been fun watching more and more of what I make take over my house. But mostly, when I find something to do that I enjoy, something that really captivates me, I can get lost in the feeling of creating, and I love that feeling.

I blog for a lot of reasons. Mostly I'm something of a computer nerd and I love writing. I write about crafting because it just makes sense … it's what I do. The idea of "craft" is a big part of my life in many ways, aside from the obvious – the crafts I make. But it's also the idea of learning a craft, of honing a skill. Craft as artistic expression. A craft as someone's professional pursuit. Also randomly, the Arts & Crafts movement, which I love.

You write about and work for charities. Can you tell me a little about your causes, professional and personal?

Yes indeed … my professional "cause" is the People's Community Clinic, where I work in development – fundraising, public affairs, etc. The Clinic provides healthcare to people in central Texas without health insurance. It's really an amazing place to work. I'm impressed every day with the dedication and compassion of the people I work with. Our patients get better care than many people who have insurance. It's definitely work I'm proud of, and committed to.

Despite that, thinking of myself as a "cause" person is funny – I don't think of it that way. I do this work because in my life, what I do has to have some kind of meaning. I am not a person who can work only for a paycheck. Leaves me feeling empty, burned out and depressed. Maybe it's my background? My family has a number of social workers and teachers in it.

I choose the nonprofits I work for carefully - not all are great. I find that working at places that are really making a difference in the world spreads the enthusiasm for that kind of work to all areas of my life – my blog posts, for example. Being around passionate people is incredibly inspiring, and it lets me hold onto the idealism and passion that, I think, too many people lose. The people at the Clinic believe they can help relieve suffering and care for people in their community. Being in an environment like that makes me believe that anything is possible, and that cynicism is just giving up, accepting the way things are, accepting your own limitations and your own lack of ability to make a difference. What fun is that?

What's the best thing about what you do? And the worst?

Making myself be creative at work and at home, every day, all day – that's the best AND worst. Sometimes I just want to be a vegetable. Sometimes I get burned out. Sometimes it's too much work. But I think I'd go nuts without so many outlets for creativity, probably start making trouble! I like being busy and having so much stuff in my life that means something to me.

I love your Index of Indie! Suuuuch a good resource. You write on that, "Indie means lots of things, but mostly it means being out there on your own, doing it yourself, being creative, doing what you love, and if you're lucky, doing it for a living."

Supporting indie crafters/artists/designers/etc and supporting charity causes seems to go hand in hand. Certainly people have been knitting socks for the troops for quite some time, but lately there seems to be a proliferation of these craft for charity opportunities. How does Indie figure into all of this?

Let me see, indie and charity is not the same thing, obviously. How do they go together? First, I think lots of crafters like to support charity … don't know why! But it's true. Look at the Crafters for Critters website, for example, or Etsy for Animals …

For me, they go together because my interest in charity work and my admiration of independent artists both stem from an unwillingness to accept the status quo, and the belief that anything is possible. Independent artists, crafters and designers are following their dreams, they're doing the impossible thing. They're out there on their own being one woman/man creating, producing, selling, managing machines. It's impressive to even do it, much less succeed at it.

So, that's what the Index of Indie is about – supporting the artists. The Index was a natural sort of development as I got into being a consumer of handmade creations. I plan to keep working on it, making it better. I originally put it together because I had a hard time keeping track of stores and resources …

Really, "indie" anything can be overwhelmingly confusing and intimidating, whether that's indie art, crafts, music, film. With independent artisans, all the sales venues are decentralized, there aren't huge marketing budgets to appeal to consumers, and there are a huge number of artists and makers involved. To the casual observer, getting into buying indie is overwhelming. Maybe I can provide a resource to help wade through it all, maybe help encourage people to purchase from independent artists and designers. That's the idea anyway.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Swap-O-Rama-Rama...with a twist

I'm completely wiped from an awesome birthday weekend at the Madonna Inn (Thanks baby!), so forgive me if I sound a little sad. I've been rummaging through my emails, and while this sounds fun, it reminded me that the craft world maintains such a tightly knit community online, but geographically, it's almost impossible to participate in most of the opportunities I find. And I guess I am still a little high from last week's Los Angeles Craft Mafia meeting which only awakened my appetite for in person meetups without bedding it down. Sigh.

Anyway, may this opportunity brighten your day...from Kim Schenck:

Hi all!
I am planning on putting on a Swap-o-rama-rama (SORR) with a twist. The SORR will actually be one of many activities planned at week long camps for youth who are in foster care. The youth participate in lots of activities at camp with the ultimate goal of developing leadership skills, creativity, independent living skills, teambuilding, etc. I thought a SORR would be a great way to teach youth about sustainability, diy movement, etc.

We are a local non-profit in Austin who has been providing youth development/leadership events for youth in foster care for over 20 years. I'd ultimately like to get several local designer/artists/seamstresses involved – hence this email. This wouldn't be a traditional swap-o-rama-rama, but a shorter version. We're also focusing on re-designing/restructuring *only* t-shirts. They can choose to make them into whatever they'd like – bags, hats, shirts, skirts, whatever. The evening will culminate in a fashion show.

Each youth 16-18 years old from around the state attend camp with a counselor or caseworker. We typically have around 75 total participants at each camp – 50 youth and 25 adult sponsors. Dates for camps are March 12-15 and March 16-19 with the SORR scheduled from 6:30-9:30pm on Thursday, *March 13th* and Monday, *March 17th* in Wimberley (about 25 miles southwest of Austin) where the camp is located. If you are interested in participating,
*please* reply to this email. We are able to compensate folks for their help – around *$100* for each camp. We'd love to have you!

I'm also looking for anyone with expertise in airbrush painting and/or screen printing.

For more info, contact, Kim Schenck ( LMSW ofTexas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) and visit the site,