Earlier this week I wrote about my first two days at Craftcation 2016. Craftcation is a four-day business and craft conference in Ventura, California, organized by Delilah Snell and Nicole Stevenson, the women who founded the Dear Handmade Life blog and the Patchwork Show. This rather lengthy post is about my last two days there (I volunteered for the first two days). I was thrilled to attend some hands-on craft workshops.
On Saturday morning, April 9, I took a color theory class with Bay Area artist Lisa Solomon. We made color wheels using either gouache or water colors to create our favorite version of each color on the color wheel she gave us to fill out. We painted hues (fave colors), tints (fave colors + white) and shades (fave colors + black). I started out with red, one of my favorite colors. The last color I filled in was my least favorite – yellow (because it just doesn’t look good on me). That’s my completed color wheel in the photo below, and my palette.
After we did the color wheel, Lisa had us take some Starburst candies and try to match the color of the wrapper and the candies. I gotta say, Starburst candies have some really odd colors. The orange and blueberry candies are strangely muted and tricky to match. The bottom left photo is my attempt to match those candy colors.
Lisa said color theory can’t really be taught in three hours so she also mentioned several books about color that we might want to get, including Josef Albers’ classic Interaction of Color, Victoria Finlay’s Color: A Natural History of the Palette, and The New Munsell Student Color Set, a three-ring workbook that comes with many color chips that you place on color charts. I’ve had a copy of the earlier edition of the Albers book (with the blue/orange/yellow painting on the cover) for years but haven’t read it in a really long time.
After I got home from Craftcation, I went on Amazon and ordered a copy of Finlay’s book and I discovered that there was a 50th anniversary edition of Interaction of Color with more color plates than the earlier edition. Oh, and there’s a super fancy $250(!) two-volume version of Interaction of Color that’s now back in print. I’m sure it’s gorgeous but kinda out of my price range. I decided to get the 50th anniversary edition along with a set of Holbein gouache paints. I got the student color set – twelve 10ml tubes of paint for $30, the price is now $35 on Amazon but the list price is $146(!), which seems really high. Who knew gouache was so pricey? I haven’t bought it in years but I want to continue exploring color post-Craftcation.
And guess what? As I was looking up info on Albers, I found out that there’s an Interaction of Color iPad app! It’s only for the iPad (sorry ‘droid folks) but you can check out the video demo on the Interaction of Color website. There’s a free version of this interactive app and a paid $13.99 version. You get the book and you can play around with his color studies and use the palette tool to create your own color studies. So cool!
Finlay’s book tells the stories behind various colors – each chapter is devoted to one or two colors (ochre, black and brown, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). I’m looking forward to reading it. Lisa warned us that the Munsell book was expensive ($85 on Amazon) but that you could find earlier editions for less.
(If you want to learn more about Josef Albers, check out Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. I knew about modernist painter Josef, from my 20th century art history classes in college but I didn’t know anything about his wife Anni, who was a textile designer and printmaker. The pair met when they students at the Bauhaus. Check out her striking work in the Museum of Modern Art here and on Artsy here.)
In between classes I made a quick trip to Superbuzzy, a fabric store in Ventura that carries Japanese fabrics, indie patterns, and really cute little Japanese erasers, magnets, and tiny toys. I was conservative and limited myself to a 1/2 yard of a really pretty Echino print (bottom right photo). I also bought this cute cat eraser.
My only minor complaint about Craftcation is that it’s a little challenging to get around if you don’t have a car. However, there were shuttles to take people from the Marriott to events and the off-site locations for food and craft workshops, which was great. Plus there is a trolley that you could take from the hotel to downtown Ventura. My problem was I wanted to get to Superbuzzy, which is not in the downtown area. I ended up taking Uber there and then got a ride back from another Craftcation attendee who was at the store. 🙂 The conference organizers did put together a shuttle to go from the hotel to Superbuzzy on my third day there but it didn’t begin until after the time I needed to go. I skipped out on the Sunday roundtable to explore Ventura. Becky took me to the downtown area, which I hadn’t had a chance to explore. I was so busy at the conference that I really didn’t see much of Ventura.
My Saturday afternoon workshop was indigo dyeing! That class was taught by Anna Joyce who hand dyes and stencils fabric and makes pillows, scarves, bags, and other things. We used indigo tie dye kits by Jacquard – stirred into 5 gallon buckets. Then we tied our tea towels and tote bags using rubber bands or string and put them into the buckets. My tea towel is the one in the bottom left of this photo. I randomly tied rubber bands in several places on the tea towel. I love how it turned out! We had a lot of fun dyeing. When I posted some of the images from this class on my Instagram feed (@csews), a Bay Area Sewists member mentioned that I should teach the members indigo dyeing. (I’m the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group.)
Jenny of Cashmerette was in this class, too. If you squint, you might be able to recognize her in the above photo but she’s also in the photo below – standing to the left of me. Jenny makes patterns for curvy figures. I finally got to meet Jenny in person (I follow her on IG (@cashmerette), along with Mimi Kirchner (on my right), who makes amazing dolls with fabric – everything from foxes and dogs to tattooed lumberjack dolls. I saw her dolls at a Renegade craft fair a few years ago and never forgot how beautifully crafted they are. Check out her Etsy store here and see the cute dresses and jackets she made for the dolls.
The bottom right photo is my friend Becky holding the pompon she made on Friday night – and another indigo dyeing shot.
Log Cabin Quilting
On Sunday I took the Log Cabin Quilting workshop taught by Susan Beal of West Coast Crafty, who’s also the author of the book Modern Log Cabin Quilting. I had never done any quilting before – I guess I avoided it because it just seemed too time-consuming and obsessive. I’d rather sew clothes. But I thought a workshop would be a good way to dip my toe in the quilting waters. And it turns out that I picked the right class because log cabin quilting lets you improvise. You can vary the width of the “logs” – the strips of fabric that go around the center square (the hearth). Plus you don’t need to be so precise, which I really liked. Here’s the class photo – sorry I cut off the lady on my right. She didn’t quite fit in this format but at least her log cabin piece is in the photo – floating in front of me! You can see how different each block is. Susan is in the yellow sweater holding her book Modern Log Cabin Quilting.
My square is the one on the bottom right – it’s a bit wrinkled. This is how it looked after I took it out of my suitcase. The colors are brighter than this photo. I took some extra fabric home with me so I can make a few more squares. I see pillows…
I ended my previous post asking if it was worth volunteering, and my answer is “Yes!” If you get assigned to help with food, wear comfy shoes and be prepared to be on your feet. If you volunteer, you are committing to working eight hours a day for two days, but you may not necessarily need to work all eight hours (see my earlier post for deets). Your shift may start later or end earlier, allowing you to attend more workshops. It all depends on the needs of the conference organizers. Keep in mind that when you volunteer, you miss half the conference unless you can volunteer for three days before the conference begins. If you do that, you can attend all four days of the conference – at least that’s how they did it for Craftcation 2016. It may be different next year.
You do get a very different perspective of the conference when you’re a volunteer – you see all the hard work and intensity that goes into putting on Craftcation – from the meals and event preparation to the decorations and transportation details. As a conference attendee, you don’t really see all that. It looks rather effortless to the attendees who just need to show up at the various designated locations. 😉
The volunteers I met were all really nice and worked hard make sure attendees had a good time. The Craftcation staff was amazing and were really appreciative of the volunteers and respectful of our time.
I can also say that it’s worth attending the conference as a paid attendee because paying less than $500 for four full days of workshops, talks, and plenty of other activities is a really good deal. If you break it down, you’re not paying much at all for each individual session. If you have a business making handmade things to sell, this is a great conference. There are many business topics covered that are tailored for your businesses. Many of the attendees who had their own businesses seemed really inspired by Craftcation 2016. I didn’t attend the business workshops except for Meighan O’Toole‘s packed session on developing a social media strategy. She rocks. (Be sure to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter for lots of useful info.)
Update: I forgot to mention that I attended the “How to Make Money from Your Blog” on Friday. I managed to squeeze that in before my volunteer shift started that day. Making money blogging doesn’t really didn’t seem viable for sewing blog (like mine) that doesn’t have a huge following. I don’t know that I could do sponsored posts. But I have decided to experiment and I’m trying out the affiliate links and Google AdSense. The book links in this post are affiliate links. (I’ve applied for AdSense – if I get approved, maybe you’ll see a sidebar ad on my blog in the near future.) The message from the two craft bloggers who spoke at this session (Rachel Mae Smith of The Crafted Life and Molly Madfis of Almost Made Perfect) was to have multiple streams of revenue (sponsored posts, ads, teach workshops, do an e-course, charge for mentioning stuff on social media, etc.).
Note on craft workshops: Attendance is limited for the hands-on workshops and most of them fill up on the first day of online registration. I was on my computer with all my classes picked out, ready to register as soon as I got the password. Many people change their minds about classes so don’t worry if you don’t get in the classes you want. You can join a wait list and usually space opens up the closer you get to the conference and when Craftcation gets underway, people’s schedules change.
There was a Craftcation pop-up shop during the conference where you could buy crafty stuff as well as things made by conference presenters. I got these craft kits and a fun flower pin made by Nichole Stevenson – fun gifts for my nieces! 🙂
Craftcation 2016 attendees also have a private Facebook group and since the conference has been over, people have been posting about what they’ve been doing, asking for advice, sharing their social media handles, and more. It’s a nice way to keep the Craftcation glow continuing – until next year. If you’re interested in attending the next Craftcation, be sure to sign up for the Dear Handmade Life monthly newsletter to be notified when registration begins. The conference sells out so register as early as you can.
Four days after Craftcation I was walking down the street in Berkeley and I saw this sign in front of my local art store Artist Craftsman & Supply.
I took it as a sign and bought a bunch of Jacquard indigo tie dye kits (40% off!) for a summer Bay Area Sewists meetup. If you have any ideas where to hold this meetup in the Bay Area (indoors or outdoors), let me know! I need a place that’s OK with dye and won’t charge much to use their space – super low-cost or free is ideal. 😉
Congratulations! You made it to the end of this post! To share a bit of the Craftcation goodness with you, I’m giving away Sublime Stitching’s Gothic Grandeur embroidery pattern. If you haven’t heard of Sublime Stitching before, founder Jenny Hart’s tagline is: “This ain’t your gramma’s embroidery.” If you check out the Sublime Stitching website, you’ll find embroidery patterns for everything from animals and aliens (the space kind) to Day of the Dead motifs and bikini-clad ladies as well as embroidery floss, textiles, and more.
Here’s an image from her website of the embroidery pattern, which you can’t see very well on the envelope. I’ll pick a winner next Saturday, April 30 so add you comment below if you’d like a chance to win this pattern.
Inside this envelope is an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of iron-on transfers. It also includes instructions and an embroidery lesson – if you want one. The envelope info says you can use it multiple times onto fabric, cardstock, leather, and wood. To enter the giveaway, just comment below. (U.S. only because customs, etc. make it too expensive to send overseas.)
Happy stitching, quilting, and crafting!