Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Friday Favorites: Post-Craftcation Habits

Within a few weeks of my arrival at Storey last July, our publisher, Deborah Balmuth, handed me a copy of the 2013 Craftcation program guide and said, “You should really go to this.”

If you’re someone who sells the things you make by hand and you don’t know about Craftcation, Craftcation fever is one bug you probably want to catch. It’s part networking opportunity for makers and indie business owners, and part crafting vacation in the beachy city of Ventura, California. Storey is lucky enough to support and attend Craftcation, along with authors like Kari Chapin, and it’s an amazing opportunity to see and hear what the community of creative makers is up to. On a personal level, it was a first real opportunity for me to step out from behind the computer to meet some of the people who enjoy Storey books. 

Thursday night dinner program

But as we drove from LAX to Ventura (with views of strawberry fields forever!), I’ll confess that I started to feel a little nervous. Within the first few minutes of being in Ventura, I could already spot them, these talented and committed crafters and artists and artisanal foodies who had flocked to Ventura for the next few days to talk business and swap stories. They are unmistakable: they wear bold prints and flowers in their hair! They’re talking about their Etsy shops! And when they come together at Craftcation, they are practically vibrating with energy and excitement. I started to worry. Though I enjoy knitting and love to bake, I don’t have a small business and I have never called myself a maker. How much would I be able to connect with this dynamic group? Would they peg me as a lurker? An admiring non-maker?

Sewer or not, perusing the fabric selection at Super Buzzy in Ventura is an intoxicating experience.

But if you know anything about people who come from the world of makers, you know their great love of sharing their passion and their skills. After all, somewhere along the line, someone taught them how to do what they do, and as keynote speaker Lisa Congdon reminded us in her illustrated talk about embracing the abyss and taking risks, most of us are in a perpetual state of learning. Sharing that learning makes it less terrifying. It connects us. And though I don’t own sell my cookies in a shop and can’t draw to save my life and I’ve never touched a sewing machine, I still heard echoes of my experiences in the workshops, classes, and conversations the Craftcation community shared over our few days together.

Take a craft break on the beach.

Maybe you’ve been to Craftcation and so you know these things firsthand. Maybe you’re already thinking about Craftcation 2015. Make it happen! But be prepared for unexpected side effects.  Here are a few I’ve experienced since my return.

1. You wonder why people sitting at the bar aren’t making something while they drink. The more time you spend at Craftcation, the stranger it seems to stand in a line somewhere or walk into a restaurant or bar and not find someone balancing an embroidery hoop beside a cocktail or beer. (Put those iPhones down, people! This is better.)

2. You’re ready to do killer photo shoots in your bathroom.  With your sheets of light gray poster board propped up with an iron, the collection of vintage thimbles (because small things in great quantities make photos beautiful), and the ladder you’ve crammed between the toilet and the sink to get just the right angle to shoot photos of the things you make, you’re ready to go. Or maybe you just use the light box you learned how to build at the conference.

3. You’re still Tweeting #craftcation14 and will be for the foreseeable future. Photos. Recaps. Declarations. Post-conference goals. Tutorials for the workshops you missed (or just want to recreate at home). People wearing the dresses they made, and embroidering inspirational phrases. Photos of amazing antique and fabric store finds. Washi tape

A washi tape welcome from Nicole and Delilah
4. You see washi tape everywhere. In the days leading up to the conference, Delilah and Nicole, the founders of Craftcation, mailed us a box with multiple rolls of washi tape as a welcome. And washi tape was everywhere at Craftcation 2014: on the hotel walls, on the tables at lunch, on conference community boards, on notebooks, on soda bottle centerpieces, and even on fingernails. We became accustomed to seeing it everywhere. On the last leg of our flight home from California, Deborah and I sat in the first row behind the wall that divides first class from coach. The wall in front of us had some aerodynamic, swooping lines. We were tired and it had been a long day; we had still had our heads in the creative-maker clouds. Deborah reached out and ran an index finger along a navy blue swoop on the wall. Then she giggled and turned to me. “I thought it was washi tape,” she said. 

5. You adorn the walls of your house and other inanimate objects with inspirational sayings. Every maker knows it, but there’s something infectious about spending intense periods of time with creative people. You suddenly find yourself wanting to make something, too, or take that new skill you learned in a workshop and use it already! It helps when the very walls of the room you’re sitting in and the tote bag you’re carrying are bedecked with bold declarations like “MAKE IT HAPPEN” and “There is Beauty in the Process.”

Conference mornings look like this.

Whatever other post-Craftcation habits may develop for us in the coming weeks, there’s an undeniable energy (and maybe a little glow from that California sun) that came back to the East Coast with us, a welcome Craftcation stow-away in our luggage. Thanks, Delilah, Nicole, attendees, teachers, and makers all, for letting us be a part of this one-of-a-kind event! We had a blast.


Unknown said...

thank you so much for these lovely lovely lovely words! i got goosebumps when you talked about being nervous and how you're a maker but didn't identify as one! we so loved having you and the team join us! a detailed thank you note is on the way #craftcation14 #washitapeiseverywhere!

Hang Ups in KC said...

I am so glad that you and Deborah made the trip out to Ventura and really enjoyed your "craft your writing" session. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and especially those that related to writing for the digital world. Craftcation is truely a unique combination of learning, making, connecting and encouragement that I sometimes think the world needs more of. #craftcation14

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words, Nicole and Hang Ups in KC -- it was great to connect with you in person. That failure to "self-identify" is a funny phenomenon, isn't it? And somehow, I imagine it's one everyone relates to at some point. Craftcation is a perfect place to step out from behind those protective walls we put up. It's sunnier on the other side!

Owen said...

Looks like Craftcation 2014 was a hit. Hope you enjoyed the Speed-Sew Fabric Glue that was in your goodie bag :-)