You absolutely must read Anna Torborg’s new book, The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds. Let me tell you why.
I discovered the book, not via a blog or surfin’ the net as you’d expect, but the old-fashioned way. At a bookstore. As I navigated my way towards art/design (where else?), I passed the crafty section and there it was, the Barnes & Noble featured title. With a juicy apple green cover and a to-the-point title, I was lured in instantly, so I grabbed it and started doing the anxious flip. As I flipped, the more excited I felt because I recognized so many of the artists featured inside. Some I’ve even blogged about. I had to buy it, and so I did. Sure, I could have found it for $13 on Amazon, but I wasn’t feeling patient enough to wait and order online.
The Crafter’s Companion takes the reader on a terrific journey into the minds of creative types that sew (either by hand or machine) beautiful wares ranging from dolls to pillows and everything in between. These artists also talk about crafting via their blogs/websites where they form creative connections, making new friends, exchanging ideas, and offering encouragement. Anna Torborg pulled together a beautiful read, combining heartfelt text from each artist along with inspirational images, pulling in the most beautiful shots of studios, inspiration boards, work surfaces, and handmade items. The flow of the book is very easy to follow, it profiles one artist at a time — Each with their own images, name, location, age, url, why they create, what inspires them (my favorite part), and information about their workspace (another great feature). But that’s not all.
An added bonus is when each artist wraps up their profile with a mini project, so you can try getting crafty yourself. Lisa Congdon shows how to make a log cabin pillow, Wee Wonderfuls demonstrates the art of making a pillowcase apron, My Paper Crane crafts up a quick “house” tissue cover, Angry Chicken teaches how to create a quilted throw (I want to try this one), or learn how to make a library tote from the fabulous Fiona Dalton. With 17 crafter profiles and projects, The Crafter’s Companion will motivate everyone, from the experienced artist to the closet crafter, to reach out and create something from the heart. It will also inspire you to blog, and although you may not thought it possible, when you finish reading the book, you’ll appreciate handmade wares on a level you may not expect.
I appreciate how the artists reach deep inside and express exactly why they craft. Not for money or to win some popularity contest, but often for spiritual and emotional reasons, and for the friendships they make through online networking. Of course, some are able to supplement their income from their craft business, but none of these ladies are rolling in the cash – for them, money is only a small piece of it. Their work is from the heart. What does this really mean to them? It seems that each hopes to use their talent and energy to put a stamp on something unique, to gain the approval of others, feel appreciated, form friendships, bond with others, and make money doing what they love. Certainly a different approach to the mission of most companies today. Isn’t that refreshing? Of course, they also appreciate the value in owning something unique and handmade in a world that has become so commercial and, flip over any object you buy these days, is stamped “Made in China”. So it’s a combination of things that encourage the modern crafter to do what they love, but the common theme is that they all seem to use crafting as a creative outlet to balance the boring, mundane things in life that can sometimes crowd out the creative side (i.e. working for a living and taking out the trash). These ladies make room to craft because it helps them stay balanced and happy. A good lesson for all, isn’t it?
I’d like to give a little shout out to each one of these talented women because they put so much of themselves into this title. I hope you click on their links below and visit their sites. But first of all, a huge shout out to the energy and spirit behind the book, the editor, Anna Torborg from Twelve22. And then, in order of appearance in the book:
Alison Brookbanks, 6.5 st, Australia
Amy Karol, Angry Chicken, Oregon
Cassi Griffin, Bella Dia, Idaho
Fiona Dalton, Hop Skip Jump, Australia
Heidi Kenney, My Paper Crane, Pennsylvania
Hillary Lang, Wee Wonderfuls, Illinois
Juju Vail, Juju Loves Polka Dots, England
Katey Nicosia, One Good Bumblebee, Texas
Lisa Congdon, California
Lyn Roberts, Molly Chicken, England
Maitreya Dunham, Craftlog, New Jersey
Mariko Fujinaka, Super Eggplant, Oregon
Myra Masuda , My Little Mochi, Hawaii
Sarah Neuburger, The Small Object, South Carolina
Tania Ho, Chocolate a Chuva, Portugal
Tania Howells, Canada
Congrats ladies on the powerful, positive message that The Crafter’s Companion sends. Excellent work! And if you’d like, listen in on a podcast CraftyPod had with Anna Torborg. It’s all about crafting + blogging and how Anna selected each artist, the message she is trying to send through it, and her feelings about blogs in general.
Psst: If you’ve read this book and created something inspired by the patterns in it, feel free to post your project to the The Crafter’s Companion Flickr group.
(images from individuals linked above)
If you’re a Steven Harrington like me, you’ll be happy to know that his new online store, You & I, just launched. I’m still hoping he’ll do a limited run of his peacock print, but until then, here’s some great options. I have the Un Royaume print (top right) and love it, the colors are brilliant and the paper is heavy and gorgeous (I’m very tactile, so paper weight is important to me). Enjoy!
(images from you & i)
Kelly Rae Roberts recently commented on a decor8 post and after reading it, I clicked on her name and linked over to her website (I love links!). It was there that I discovered her colorful, whimsical artwork and all the things this lady has been up to over the years. So watch out when you comment with a link – I’ll find you! :)
Kelly grew up in Florida, studied social work in college, and relocated to the west coast with her husband where she found the confidence to pursue her inner artist through running (I love that because my aunt was a runner and felt exactly the same way). Running gave her the wings that she needed to become an artist, something she had wanted to be her entire life but, like so many creative types that did not study art in school, they’re often told it’s not “practical” to become an artist without formal training. (But this hasn’t stopped them from their dreams, these talented artists have created somewhat of a movement called “Outsider Art”. Their numbers keep growing as it is gaining popularity all time.)
With a background in social work, it’s clear that Kelly loves people and has a sincere desire to “lift” others, which she is now able to do through her spirited paintings. Learn more about Kelly in her bio. If you are interested in purchasing an original painting, you can contact her via her website, or if you’d like a high quality print, visit her Etsy store.
Psst: Did you know that Miss Kelly worked on a children’s book, Alter This!: Radical Ideas for Transforming Books Into Art, with Alena Hennessy?
(images from kelly rae roberts)
Have you heard of DaWanda? They recently launched online out of Berlin mitte (my favorite place in Berlin for shopping), and offer a free store to newbies that sign up before May 31st. After 5/31, a standard rate will apply, so try to sneak in during this special offer. DaWanda is somewhat of an Etsy operation, they offer storefronts to sellers on one condition, that you make whatever it is that you’re selling. Even a great big table like the one below, which I love.
“Dawanda is a new online marketplace for artists, designers and artisans across Europe to set up their own shop to sell their handmade products.”
The site is in English (British), French, and German, you select the language by clicking on your flag of choice in the upper right hand corner of the homepage. You can browse by color, tag, technique, materials, or category. You can even create and organize wish lists and vote for your favorites.
Why does the world need DaWanda if Etsy is already out there? I think that for most Germans without credit cards (not the norm in Germany), they prefer using their bank account to pay for things and DaWanda gives sellers that ability so it makes things a lot easier. Most of my German friends and family do not even have (or want) Paypal accounts, so I think DaWanda offers them the chance to engage in a little e-commerce in the way they are most comfortable with, via their bank account. Plus, unlike Etsy, the site is in 3 languages, including German.
Check out DaWanda and let me know what you think. I’m interested in hearing what my pals in Europe have to say about this site.
Psst: Bridget Davis has some great pillows!