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Archive for July, 2009

a quick post…

i had a paper to write for my sociology class and it was to be on our culture.  now that is really nice if you’re italian and have a nonna.  or if you’re puerto rican and have childhood memories of making arroz con pollo with your sweet little abuelita.  But my family isn’t italian or puerto rican and we are void of any “cultural” background.  my family is new york city.  hell’s kitchen to be exact.  and wherever your family came from before that, didn’t really matter once you were there.  so yeah, i’m irish, i mean my dad even rolled with the westies for goodness sakes.  but we’re irish one day of the year, with the rest of you, eating corned beef and cabbage (except me, i hate the stuff).    so i’m racking my brain, ok culture, we also have the option of writing about our sub-culture.  oh ok, right yeah i’m sure the girl in the back with the blue hair and tattoos is gonna write ALL about her scene.  probably even talk about her 1954 ford customline and the sub-culture that exists today revolving around driving, restoring and showing off your classic car.  eh, no thanks.  i just couldn’t be bothered.  put on TLC and watch some LA Ink or something.

so, i decided to write about us.  the crafters.  this sub-culture that exists all over the world, including all different kinds of people, different ages, races, financial backgrounds.  i thought it much more fitting then a paper about how up until just a couple years ago i thought i was german but now my father is pretty sure we might be dutch.  haha, crazy.

so here’s what i wrote in my paper, enjoy!

            At first glance, it is one of those groups that you can only assume met at an AA meeting.  Such odd pairings, drastic age differences.  What else could bring such an unlikely group together?  I can only imagine the thoughts running through the minds of restaurateurs and shopkeepers of downtown Omaha, Nebraska.  In November 2007, the entire downtown area was taken over by women of all ages, all racial and ethnic backgrounds, all financial classes, for an annual event taking place over the course of 4 days.  The bond these women all share?  Mod Podge.  Vintage photos, fabrics and papers, ribbons and trims and glitter.  Crafting is what these women all love, and what brought them together in Omaha for a non-stop crafting extravaganza!

            As early as I can remember, my mother would bring my sister and me to flea markets and craft fairs.  We had regular visits to stores like Michael’s and Frank’s Crafts.  Then come home with all of our goodies to make things that would adorn the walls of our bedrooms.  Sit atop our dressers and desks.  So it is no surprise to any of us that over twenty years later, our love of creating things continues.  My sister, Jenny, has a business with her boyfriend of sixteen years doing just that.  Creating, marketing, and selling their art.  So much so, that over the years their work has been featured in a number of magazines and other publications.  A piece of their artwork is currently featured in this month’s New York Times magazine.

            I am personally working on opening my own shop on a well known Vintage and Handmade website called Etsy.  It is the crafters eBay.  Anything and everything you could possibly want or need purchased directly from the person who made it with their bare hands.  If they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, shoot them over an email and they will do their best to make it especially for you!  Not only that, you can find any item you may need to work on the project you’ve been thinking up in your head.  In addition to my Etsy shop, like most other “crafters” I have a blog.  A website, where I can give updates about what I’ve been creating, purchasing, finding, and eating!  Full of photos and links to other sites, a blog is a portal to hundreds of ideas and other people’s creations, to inspire you and keep you crafting.

            So after years of emailing back and forth.  Purchasing each other’s items.  Participating in “swaps”, which is where a group of 20 or so women will all create an item or items, revolving around a chosen “theme” and by a certain deadline mail the package of goodies to their “swap partner”.  It was an amazing moment to finally meet these women at the now widely known event called Silver Bella.

            Silver Bella is a “paper arts event” run by a woman named Theresa McFayden.  It has been featured in Country Living magazine and has guest speakers to make any crafter drool, including Mary Englebreit.  The event is set up into daily workshops, where classes are taught by some of the “big-names” in the industry.  There are banquets, dinners, luncheons, trips to local antique centers, a night of shopping – the “vendors faire”, and of course shenanigans only a group of women ranging in ages 17 – 70 can have.

            When the event ends, we return to our homes, and craft rooms, ripe with ideas and inspiration.  We all create and blog and share photos and stories.  And talk about how we can’t wait till the following year and who do we think they will have as the guest speaker next time.  It is a lovely experience.  And throughout the year following, we will all keep in touch through email and our blogs.  Sending our well wishes when a loved one falls ill.  Our congrats on someone’s child’s graduation from high school or acceptance to a University.  Oohing and Aahing at the creations of another crafter.

            So what does it take to become a part of this arts and crafts sub-culture?  Not much, a love of old things and a desire to create.  You will likely want a blog of your own.  Personally, I needed a bigger apartment!  A craft room, where I can get lost in making things was especially important to me.  I am able to go in, put on some music, and spend a few hours working on an idea that I’ve been coming up with in my mind.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a master crafter as a sibling; my sister was actually one of “the big names” teaching classes at Silver Bella ’07.  Instead of feeling like I can’t possibly compare or come close to her wonderful creations, I have my own style.  I use the tools and materials I feel most comfortable with.  It’s a great feeling of pride, so wonderful to receive complements on pair of earrings or a necklace you’re wearing when you made it yourself.

While there is a certain hierarchy in this sub-culture, no one is left to feel unaccomplished or less than another.  Everyone is appreciated for their talent and enthusiasm.  There is always something to learn.  A new trick, a great website you’ve never happened upon.  There is a great exchange of ideas and information in this Craft World.  It’s a joy to be a part of!

And you know my cover page was vintage wallpaper with an adorable tag with the title.  HAHA!

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