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Archive for April, 2008

The Craft Congress Was Fantastic!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Where to even begin? I went to the Craft Con in San Francisco, which is a series of conferences that are specifically geared toward professional or aspiring to be professional crafters. It was a 2 day conference, April 5th and 6th, with a little tour of San Fran’s craftiest spots and a cocktail hour sponsored by ReadMade. I went with Cathy Pitters of Crafty Wonderland. We had a great time!

The conference covered everything from theory based subjects like art-craft vs craft-craft to specific topics like how to get published and how to get sponsors. I should really mention here that THE most fun presentation was put on by Garth Johnson from Extreme Craft. I am not really sure I can clearly explain what he does, because you have to see it to believe it. I would have to say that he is a collector of some of the most unusual arts and crafts that I have ever seen. His presentation had a few general themes one of them was called, “Craft Extending It’s Middle Finger.” So funny.

It was so great to be in the company of so many other creative business people from all over the country and have an opportunity to share stories and learn new things together. We arrived on Friday, April 4th and got a tour of San Fran’s crafty spots. Here is a pic of a couple of places we visited on our tour, like Stitch Lounge, which is somewhat similar to DIY Lounge except that they do sewing classes:


The guy in the pic is E.J. a member of the Craft Congress.

Here is another pic of a scissor mobile at a shop called Rare Device, owned by Lisa Congdon and Rena Tom:


I spoke at the conference about Teaching Your Craft. It was little old me with Jackie from the Craft Gym and Nicole Vasbinder of Queen Puff Puff and the newly opened sewing class space called StitchCraft, both are located in California.

jen-craft-gym-and-nicole.jpgAfter the tour we went to a bar to have a drink on ReadyMade. I thought we were just getting one drink, but the drinks just flowed and flowed. I don’t have any pics from the bar, but here are some pictures that others took at the Gala event that happened Saturday, April 5th.

Here is a pic of Rachel (with the dreads) the main person who busted her butt to make sure the Congress met, she is talking with Autumn. Autumn did a presentation on crafting green, which living in Portland Oregon, I thought I already knew everything about green practices, but she raised so many interesting points and ideas that were new to me. It was fascinating!


Here is a picture of Rev Callie from the Church of Craft NYC. Left – Callie is posing in an adorable costume at the Gala. Next to her is Katy as Pippi Long Stocking. She was one of the members of the Congress, who makes these cute aprons like the one she is wearing. I like these pictures so much I decided to put them in triplicate on the blog:


One of the many great things about this conference was that most meals were included so we didn’t have to go around looking for food. We were able to sit, eat and discuss topic or whatever we wanted to chat about. Everyone was so cool and friendly!

If anyone would like to learn more about this conference. I heard they are planning to do podcasts of the main conferences as well as links to other member’s blogs and pics . For more info go here . To become a Craft Congress member you go to the same website .

I know this is really long, but I just can’t stop without mentioning Kelly and her FUNK BAND. While at this conference we stayed with Cathy’s long time friend Kelly, who is such a cool chick! She has many great attributes, but the thing that really knocked my socks off was her funk band. I couldn’t stop taking pics, so I will include a bunch of them. The line up is 3 girl singer, dancers who all do synchronized dance steps together, with a guest singer too. They had a horn section and a girl base player (so cool!).


Kelly is the one with her finger in the air. While we were there she was talking about moving back to Portland and getting a funk band going here. If she does, you all have to see her. Here is more Kelly and the Funk:kelly-2.jpgkelly-3.jpgkelly-4.jpg

Weekly Tips From Teachers

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Tip #2 from Dayna Collins of Matchbox Shrines

The Traps of Perfectionism and Expectation

I’m still learning, but I know very well how perfectionism and expectation can interrupt my creativity. If what I’m working on must be “perfect,” it disrupts my creative flow and most likely brings the creative process to a halt. I find myself stuck rather than productive and it is far easier to be stuck than creative. The other potential trap is expectation. Once I have an idea and get started on a project, I often try and “steer” the outcome, to direct it in the direction I “think” it should go. The result is often frustration and again, I allow myself to get stuck..

Both perfectionism and expectation stem from my inner critic, that internal voice that is judgmental and critical of whatever I create. When I hear that voice, it catches my attention and I begin to believe it. So how do I break through the chatter of my inner critic? An effective tool is to tell myself that I am PLAYING, not making “art,” especially art with a capital “A.” Somehow just thinking of my creating as playing dulls the voice of my inner critic. When I’m playing, there is no need to be judgmental and I certainly have no expectaton of where I’m going. The idea of playing takes me back to being a child and allows me to just have fun.

Whenever I’m teaching a class or workshop, I always begin each class with a reminder for each person to leave their inner critic at the door. It is my goal that we view our time as playtime and to enjoy the process, wherever it may take us. We don’t judge our work, we don’t even critique each other’s work, and we definitely don’t decide in advance exactly what we will be doing. It is my hope that we will let loose, experiment with whatever materials we have before us, and above all, allow ourselves to BE BOLD.

Here’s an idea you might try if your critic has been particularly noisy lately: Take a piece of paper or a page in your journal and begin writing everything your inner critic is saying to you. It might start off with something like this: “You’re not an artist, why do you pretend you are . . . .” Once you have filled the page, get out some paint and cover all of your writing. Yes, cover it all. Now take a bright color of paint or a pen, and write over the top of the paint whatever you really are. For instance: “I am a brilliant and creative person who loves to play.” You have just written a creative affirmation – now begin to believe it!

It’s about time . . .

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I really wanted to post earlier, but I have been so busy over the last week that there hasn’t been a spare moment to write anything. Here is a brief overview. Weekend before last DIY Lounge was filmed by OPB’s Oregon Art Beat, which was so great. The executive producer, Jessica Martin interviewed Nicole Cipriano and I. They also filmed Nicole’s woodblock class. It was to great to even talk about with the same old words I always use. It was better than great, cool, rad, amazing and awesome put together. Here are a couple of images. The first is of Nicole and myself and a picture of the woodblock students getting their crafty groove on:

nicole and Jen

woodblock students

Here are some images of finished woodblock prints made by the students in this class:



The majority of the the students in this class said they weren’t artists and considered themselves beginners. Totally amazing – especially for novices, don’t you think?

So, after I was filmed by OPB, I was filmed again last Monday for an independent local show called Pirate Satelite TV.

I did a demo on t-shirt reconstruction, turning two old t-shirts into a cute, sexy tank top. As if that weren’t enough to write about I also went away last weekend to the Craft Congress! It was so wonderful. I met so many incredible people and I have so many new ideas. I will have pictures and stories to share, but I need to wait until I have a little more time to write about this.