Spring Brunch at PJ’s Lager House: Calligraphy Class and The Detroit Card Co.

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We’ve missed you! So we hope you’ll meet us at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, April 12. We’ll take part in a calligraphy class, taught by designer and crafter Genna Cowsert. We’ll enjoy some hilarious greeting cards by The Detroit Card Co. And we’ll savor a hearty brunch, prepared by chef Jessika Rae Warren. After months of hibernation, this will be a great opportunity to get out and rejoin your crafty friends.

 Photo: Anne Hayman

Photo: Anne Hayman

In an age when even the most basic handwriting has become something of a lost art, calligraphy takes on the allure of an ancient magic. We’re excited to explore its mysteries at our first Small Craft event of the season. In this beginner level class, we will learn the basics of Copperplate calligraphy, from holding an oblique calligraphy pen, to practicing the basic shapes, to writing the alphabet. We will start from the very beginning, so no prior experience is necessary.

Because the calligraphy class requires individual instruction and special tools, we must ask for advance registration and a $20 materials fee. Participants will receive one Nikko G nib, one oblique pen holder, one jar of black ink, one pad of layout bond paper and a packet of letter samples.  Best of all, they’ll receive expert instruction from Genna Cowsert. If you’ve met Genna at local craft fairs, past Small Craft events, or last year’s Craft-A-Way Camp, then you know what a kind, engaging, and informed instructor she will be.

 The Detroit Card Co.

The Detroit Card Co.

In crafty circles, Genna is best known as the creator of Chuppy Love, a line of adorable amigurumi characters. But she’s also a talented custom and paper goods designer, with a special interest in stationary, wedding invitations, and greeting cards. Genna’s latest endeavor is The Detroit Card Co., a collaboration with author Cara Trautman. Combining sweet graphics with sour messages, The Detroit Card Co. offers a refreshing alternative to the sentimental greeting card. At our brunch, a selection of these cards will be available for you to browse and purchase.

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Everyone’s aware that PJ’s Lager House is an incredible venue for live music. (A visit to the tiny Lager House stage by power pop legends Redd Kross was one of the great musical highlights of 2013.) And lately, more and more people are discovering the food! Our friend Jessika Rae Warren is the chef, and her cuisine has everything we’re looking for: comforting favorites, vegan options, and a bit of a wild streak.

Last time we collaborated with J Rae, she joked that we’d posted her entire “punk résumé,” so we won’t review her history here. Suffice it to say that she’s been a beloved fixture of Detroit’s DIY community for many years. Recent projects include her Heavy Nettles pop-up restaurant at St. CeCe’s Pub, and her series of fire cider skillshares at Brooklyn Street Local. She also holds the distinction of being the only person in memory to actually start a Trumbullplex show at its posted time! If you’ve got a taste for local, independent culture, then J Rae’s brunch is for you.

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After two years of monthly Small Craft events, we decided to take a winter hiatus. Almost immediately, we began to miss our little get-togethers. We missed the hustle and bustle of setting up for an event. We missed seeing everyone’s wonderful crafts at the end of the day. And we especially missed spending time with all of our crafty friends! So we look forward to a reunion at the Spring Brunch. (Even if you’re not participating in the calligraphy class, we’d still love to have your company!) And we look forward to crafting with you in the coming months.

Small Craft Spring Brunch
Saturday, April 12
11:00 – 3:00
Calligraphy at noon
PJ’s Lager House
1254 Michigan Ave.
Detroit

Planning to be part of the calligraphy class? Please sign up in advance. There is a $20 materials fee.

All spots in our calligraphy class have been filled. But you’re still welcome at our Spring Brunch! Bring your own project, or just enjoy the tasty food, crafty conversation, and sassy greeting cards.

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Second Anniversary Party: Crown Larks, Voluptuous Panic, and Characteristics

November 2013

Our second year was a memorable one, and we want to conclude it with an equally memorable party. So on the evening of Saturday, November 9, we’ll gather at the Trumbullplex to celebrate Small Craft’s Second Anniversary. We’ll enjoy great live music by Chicago’s Crown Larks, West Michigan’s Voluptuous Panic, and Detroit’s own Characteristics. We’ll dance to an eclectic selection of records, chosen by DJ Doctor Doom. We’ll craft festive masks, at the Masquerade Make n Take. And we’ll share free coffee, tea, and homemade vegan donuts.


Of course, the best moments of any party are those that can’t be planned or predicted. That’s why we’re so excited to welcome Crown Larks to the Trumbullplex. Whether wandering through the reeds, rushing across the keys, or digging into some heavy guitar riffs, the band is always seeking out those precious instants of risk and surprise. So while we don’t know exactly what will happen at our Anniversary Party, we do know that Crown Larks will be right there in the thick of it, stretching songs and switching instruments in response to their surroundings.

Us? We’d like to see what Crown Larks do with a sweaty dance floor filled with joyful friends in handmade masks. But it’s not entirely up to us, and that is the beauty of it.


In most ways, Voluptuous Panic honor the conventions of the shoegaze genre. The guitar is as melancholy and hypnotic as rain on glass. The vocals as sweet and soothing as a warm mug of chamomile. But while so many shoegazers get lost in the swirling vapor, Voluptuous Panic always find their way to a sturdy song. And while shoegaze often lulls with repetition, Voluptuous Panic surprises with sudden solos: strange flashes brightening a familiar view.


The rhythm is strong, and the drama is vivid. But the guitars sound brittle, and the synthesizers faded. Characteristics play moody dance pop with an artfully damaged surface. It evokes the scrappy glamour of the Postcard discography, and the scuffed luster of a secondhand stereo. The details overheard in a nearby conversation, and the static obscuring a distant transmission. Spotlight to yard sale, innermost feelings to outermost reaches: Characteristics never stop moving. And once you’re tuned in to their elusive wavelength, you won’t stop moving either.

 Photo: Ashleigh Davis

Photo: Ashleigh Davis

When it’s time to dance, the Trumbullplex turns to DJ Doctor Doom. The Doctor has a profound love of music. (We’ve found him contentedly spinning records for an empty room.) He also has an unerring instinct for what others want to hear. (Once Doom’s dance floor is full, he keeps it that way!) You can look forward to hearing some highlights from his collection before, after, and between the bands’ sets.

 Photo: Brian J Bowe

Photo: Brian J. Bowe

There’s something so liberating about wearing a mask. Put on a new face, and you just may find yourself acting like a new person! At our Masquerade Make n Take, we’ll provide all the tools and materials you need to decorate a mask of your own. Wear it throughout the party, and find out whether it has an effect on your behavior.

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“I still dream about the vegan donut I ate at the Trumbullplex this fall,” wrote Amber Sarker of Handleber, a good five months after we last served this treat. Of all our homemade vegan baked goods, the donut seems to be the popular favorite, so we’re proud to bring it back for this special event. And of course, it pairs nicely with our endless supply of free coffee and tea!

 Craft-A-Way Camp

Craft-A-Way Camp

Winter Tour and Craft-A-Way CampGarden Party and Dally in the Alley. Small Craft travelled far and wide in its second year, and we’re grateful to all of you who joined us. Once we’ve taken a brief break to restore and ready ourselves, we’ll be back with all sorts of exciting new plans for year three.

One thing the Small Craft community hasn’t shared yet is a late-night party with live music. (Unless you count the notorious Craft-A-Way campfire!) And as we celebrate the past, and anticipate the future, it seems like the perfect moment to gather our friends together and dance.

Small Craft Second Anniversary
Saturday, November 9
Doors at 7:00 pm
Trumbullplex Theater
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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October skillshare: Make a paper skeleton with AusGerCo.

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It’s our last Saturday skillshare of the year! On October 12, we’ll bid a fond farewell to our second season of crafting, shopping, and socializing in Detroit’s historic Trumbullplex Theater. There won’t be another afternoon like this in 2013, so don’t miss out! Make a skeleton with Austin Shyu of AusCerGo. Paper Action Figures. Take home a bag of upcycled craft supplies. And enjoy free coffee, tea, and homemade vegan baked goods. These are the kind of warm memories that will sustain you through the long Michigan winter.

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Wolverine or Finn the Human. Chun Li or Ron Burgundy. Austin Shyu has rendered your favorite pop culture character in cut and folded construction paper. His AusGerCo. Paper Action Figures are favorites at Midwestern craft fairs and comic conventions. Their intricate detail and delicate craftsmanship are astonishing. And they’re remarkably effective at conveying each character’s essence. (His paper Steve Zissou, for instance, looks almost as mournful and weary as the original.)

Austin specializes in comic book characters, but he also draws inspiration from video games, movies, television shows, and wrestling. Austin’s also been known to craft tiny paper roller skates and guitars. (Some of which are, themselves, tributes to pop culture characters.) And he’s a master of custom work. We once challenged him to make a Pirate Robot Cowboy Monkey, and as proved by the photograph below, he came through with flying colors.

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Of course, one fan’s icon is another’s obscurity. So for our skillshare, Austin will be teaching us how to make the one figure that everyone can agree on: the skeleton! Whether it’s the reminder of our shared mortality, or just the charm of a toothy grin, there’s something about a skeleton that intrigues us all. So if you’re not obsessed with comics, films, or video games, you’ll still want to join us for a fun afternoon of crafting with paper.

If AusGerCo’s past work is any indication, the skeletons clattering out of this workshop will balance accurate detail with cartoonish style. And knowing Austin, his presentation will be leavened with sly wit and absurd invention. Materials and instruction will be provided free of charge, but you’re encouraged to bring your own glue gun and scissors, if you have them. All ages are welcome.

 Photo: Stephanie Thompson

Photo: Stephanie Thompson

Remember when we used to sell upcycled craft supplies? There was a time when the center of every Small Craft event was a table heaped with fabric, notions, paper goods, and other creative materials. We’ve been on a different path for quite a while now, but we still have piles and piles of crafty treasures, just waiting to be put to good use. So this October, we’re having a massive clearance sale. Fill a paper grocery bag with as many craft supplies as you can, and take it home for just $2!

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If our October skillshare leaves you wanting more, don’t worry! There will be still be one more occasion to gather with the Small Craft community this year. On the evening of November 9, we’ll host our second anniversary party at the Trumbullplex, with live bands from across the Great Lakes Basin. So save the date, and stay tuned for more details.

When the party’s over, we’ll put our beloved Small Craft in storage for the winter. The time will be used to prepare for future events, such as next year’s Craft-A-Way Camp. We’ll miss getting together with our friends each month, but we’ll look forward to joining you for new adventures when the warm weather returns.

Small Craft Pop-Up Shop and Skillshare
Saturday, October 12
Pop-Up Shop open 2:00 – 6:00 pm
Skillshare begins at 3:00 pm
Trumbullplex Theater
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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Small Craft in the Trumbullplex Zine Lounge: Dally in the Alley

september flyer

Would you like to craft with your friends, while relaxing in the middle of a Detroit street? Or browse hundreds of handmade zines, while surrounded by one of the city’s biggest parties? On Saturday, September 7, these opportunities will be yours, when Small Craft and the Trumbullplex Zine Library converge at Dally in the Alley to create a cozy and inspiring outdoor lounge.

We’re so excited about these opportunities that we’ve altered our customary schedule. Please note that we will gather on the first Saturday in September, rather than the second.

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Craft-A-Way Camp

From Craft-A-Way Camp to our Garden Party, we’ve spent much of our summer crafting outdoors with friends. Dally in the Alley offers us one last chance to do so, before the winter sends us all inside. While the festival’s exhilarating chaos swirls around us, we’ll share an assortment of popular outdoor craft projects. (Yes, campers: we will be painting and wrapping sticks!) And as always, you’re welcome to bring along your own craft, and enjoy some supportive company and stimulating atmosphere while you work.

Dally in the Alley, 2006

We will be in Dally’s Community Space at the corner of 2nd and Hancock, with other activities for crafters and their children close at hand. (Rumor has it that the incredible  PuppetART troupe will be nearby, teaching kids to make their own puppets!) The festival as a whole fills neighborhood streets and alleys, and features bustling crowds, aromatic food, and non-stop music. So if you’re anywhere near the Cass Corridor, you won’t be able to miss it!

 Photo: Ashleigh Davis

Trumbullplex Zine Library. Photo: Ashleigh Davis

With more than a thousand independent publications, and a unique two-story reading room, the Trumbullplex Zine Library is one of Detroit’s hidden cultural gems. Everyone is welcome to visit the Library during its Tuesday evening open hours, or during the many events the Trumbullplex Theater hosts each month. Yet it remains a secret known mostly to local punks and librarians.

That feeling of finding lost treasure is part of the appeal of the Zine Library. But it’s a collection that has something to say to the larger public, so highlights are occasionally shared via temporary Zine Lounges. At Dally, the Zine Lounge will provide a soothing break from an overwhelming party. If you’ve visited past Lounges at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair or Allied Media Conference, you know what to expect: friendly folks, soft seating, and a leisurely look through decades of DIY expression.

Detroit Urban Craft Fair, 2010

The Trumbullplex and Dally in the Alley are two of the best places to catch a glimpse of the bohemian spirit that once roared through the Cass Corridor like a mighty river. Both have roots in Common Ground, an artists’ collective of the 196os and ’70s. Common Ground sculptor Arthur Wenk made his home and studio in the space that is now the Trumbullplex, and shared them with other local artists. Dally in the Alley is said to have its origins in Common Ground’s annual barbeques.

Much has changed since the days of Common Ground, but creative collaboration is still a vital tradition in Detroit. It’s a tradition that is nourished whenever we get together with our friends to craft. A tradition that has thrived in summer’s sunlight. And a tradition that will be celebrated in the streets as summer ends.

Trumbullplex Zine Lounge
Saturday, September 7
11:00 – 4:00 pm
Dally in the Alley
Community Space
2nd and Hancock
Detroit

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Anne Horel: Live at the Trumbullplex

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Anne Horel makes pop about pop. Her songs celebrate their own catchiness. (It’s one thing to send a three-word phrase spinning endlessly through the listener’s mind. It’s another when that phrase is literally “I’m hypnotizing you.”) Her videos shred popular ephemera into colorful confetti. In “Greetings from Michigannehorel,” a musical web series shooting this summer, she plays the part of an international pop star, whose name also happens to be “Anne Horel.”

The series sends Horel’s character from France to Michigan in search of fame and fortune. As she travels around the peninsula, she finds herself caught up in “a whirlwind of surreal adventures.” In reality, Horel’s tour of Michigan will bring her to the Trumbullplex on Saturday, August 10. She’ll give a multimedia performance at our crafty celebration of the venue’s twentieth anniversary. It’s an unlikely route to fame and fortune, but it’s certain to be a surreal adventure.

Horel makes the pop spotlight seem accessible. If you’ve ever shared a funny GIF, or shouted along with the chorus of a favorite song, you can relate to what she’s doing on stage. But she also makes that spotlight seem absurd. With video collaborators Anne Lauroz and Brian J. Bowe, she dredges up the most grotesque and degraded images from the pop unconscious. Is it DIY insurrection? Social satire? Or a simple call to the dance floor? Thankfully, Horel doesn’t pause to push a particular interpretation.

 Ashleigh Davis

Ashleigh Davis


We hope you’ll join us before Horel’s performance, and enjoy some of the crafts, treats, and friends that our get-togethers are known for. We’ll learn to make terrariums with Collapse singer/ Puppin’ Around trainer Ashleigh Davis. We’ll explore a colorful and aromatic pop-up shop by JKM Soy Candles. And we’ll share free coffee, tea, and homemade vegan cake. Kids will be selling lemonade, the zine library will be open, and a twenty-year retrospective of Trumbullplex flyers will be on the walls.

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The space where we’ll gather has been welcoming artists, local and international, since the early 1970s. And it’s been home to the Trumbullplex collective since August of 1993. Stop in and contemplate Detroit’s long history of independent creativity. Then get up and confront the present moment, with Anne Horel and her dazzling metapop.

Anne Horel
Saturday, August 10
Doors: 2:00 pm
Performance: 5:00 pm
Trumbullplex
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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Trumbullplex Turns Twenty: Ashleigh Davis and JKM Soy Candles

August 2013 flyer

This month, the Trumbullplex turns twenty. And Small Craft is celebrating with a crafty birthday party! On Saturday, August 10, we’ll participate in this Detroit venue’s long legacy of DIY creativity by making terrariums with Ashleigh Davis. We’ll revel in the festive scents and colors of the JKM Soy Candles pop-up shop. For refreshments, we’ll enjoy free coffee, tea, and homemade vegan birthday cake. (And the long-awaited return of our kids’ lemonade stand!) For entertainment: a live electropop and video collage performance by French artist Anne Horel.  With a twist on every tradition, this will be the perfect party for an enduring anti-institution.

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Photo: Jackleen Diana Eve

On the debut EP by Detroit hardcore band Collapse, singer Ashleigh Davis shouts “Terrarium! Terrarium!” It’s a harsh description of a world that’s been shrunk to fit the confines of a TV screen. But the funny thing is, terrariums aren’t just a metaphor Ashleigh uses to satirize society. They’re also one of her favorite crafts! Among her friends, she’s well-known for building lovely little worlds under glass.

That’s just the kind of duality that makes Ashleigh so wonderful. She’s screaming menace on the stage, but a gentle favorite of children and dogs. (Ashleigh’s the founder of dog walkers and trainers collective Puppin’ Around.) She’s small in size, but her sweet and fearless presence fills the room.

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At our party, Ashleigh will teach you to make your own terrarium from upcycled glassware. So join us at the table, and enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, as you explore tiny landscapes with your crafty friends. We’ll provide all the tools you need; and we’ll have glassware, plants, and other materials for sale on an à la carte basis. If you’d like to bring your own materials, that’s fine. (Tip: the thinner and clearer your glass containers, the better.) And if terrariums don’t interest you, you’re welcome to bring along your own creative project, and enjoy some company while you work.

 JKM Soy Candles

JKM Soy Candles

If you’ve been to a craft fair in Southeast Michigan, you’ve probably seen them: rows and rows of jars, filled with bright colors and sweet scents. They’re JKM Soy Candles, and we’re proud to welcome them to the Trumbullplex this month. (Every birthday party needs some candles!)

We like that each candle is locally hand-poured by Jenny Rostkowski. We like that candle making enables Jenny to spend time with her two young daughters while she’s building a business. And we like that the soybean wax she uses is kinder to the Earth and air than the more typical paraffin.

Jenny’s candles are available in a wide array of scents, from Avocado to Campfire, Earl Grey to Zombie Repellent. And she also makes other great products, like incense and room spray. So you’ll want to set aside some time to see all that her pop-up shop has to offer.

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The party will also feature the return of Ramona and Henry’s lemonade stand! At 7 and 4, our children are already past masters of independent business. And they make a cold, tasty, and refreshing glass of lemonade! (As the visitors from around the world who joined us last August can attest.) Remember: it’s not summer until you’ve bought a glass of lemonade from a kids’ stand!

 Photo: Mag Sasse Stern

Photo: Mag Sasse Stern

Throughout the month of August, the Trumbullplex will be celebrating twenty years as a home for DIY in Detroit. There will be a variety of shows and other events to mark the occasion, including an August 17 visit from fabled Philly folk punks Mischief Brew. So keep an eye on the Trumbullplex website and Facebook, and be a part of the festivities!

One anniversary event is a flyer art show, opening the night before our party. We look forward to having two decades of punk flyers around us as we craft, bringing a larger historical context to our little get-together.

 Anne Horel

Anne Horel

Immediately following our skillshare will be a performance by French multimedia artist and pop singer Anne Horel. Through electropop lyrics, video collage, and internet memes, Horel creates a candy-colored caricature of 21st century popular culture.

She’s currently exploring Michigan, in search of  the people and places that make our peninsula so strange and wonderful. Her adventures are being documented in a series of free, online web videos: “Greetings from Michigannehorel.” We’re proud that our party at the Trumbullplex is part of her itinerary. And we’re glad her performance will be part of our celebration!

Stay tuned for more information about Horel, her film, and her performance. But in short: expect your ears to be overjoyed, and your eyes to be overwhelmed.

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Punk rock flyers and electropop videos. A terrarium skillshare and a homemade cake. Earl Grey candles and ice-cold lemonade. Like the Trumbullplex itself, it’s a loose and disparate collection that’s greater than the sum of its parts. And like the Trumbullplex, it’s your participation that really makes it special! So we hope we’ll see you at the party.

Trumbullplex Turns Twenty
Saturday, August 10
Pop-Up Shop open 2:00 – 6:00 pm
Skillshare begins at 3:00 pm
Performance at 5:00 pm
Trumbullplex
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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Craft-A-Way Camp: The Dream Comes to Life

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“The dream will come to life.” That was our prediction for the first Craft-A-Way Camp. And anyone who was there will tell you: that’s exactly what happened! We’ve long dreamed of a camp where crafters could gather to meet new friends and learn new skills. Like flying, it’s a dream that’s shared by many. How surreal, then, to wake up and find ourselves hiking through real woods, singing around a real fire, and crafting with real friends. It all seemed too good to be true!

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Waterloo Recreation Area was a lovely setting for our waking dream. (Although some might say our site’s vault toilet was more of a nightmare!) From the wooded trails at the start of our adventure, to the cool lake at the conclusion, the park was even better than we had hoped.

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Our instructors also exceeded our expectations. Andy Sell’s nature hike transformed our understanding of the Michigan landscape. Val Willer gave us all a new addiction to painting and wrapping sticks. Marcy Davy taught us that we could print our own t-shirts. Courtney Fischer showed us how to make lovely keepsakes from paint and wooden beads. And Karen LePage helped us to express ourselves with needle and thread.

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We avoided corporate sponsors, but we did enjoy working with our creative friends. The beautiful custom notebooks we ordered from Phantom Limb were appreciated by all, as were the adorable bookmarks handmade by Courtney Fischer. The stained glass necklaces, donated by Carey Gustafson of Glass Action!, made wonderful awards for our most spirited, resilient, and, um, dedicated campers. And it was a great moment when Joel Panozzo of the Lunch Room appeared at our potluck with a plate of tasty vegan reubens!

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We are grateful to our instructors, and to all who worked to make Craft-A-Way Camp so special. But most of all, we are grateful to our fellow campers. Some we knew from past Small Craft events. Others, we were meeting for the first time. But after a weekend at Craft-A-Way Camp, we love and miss them all. Everyone left their defenses and cares at home, and all were rewarded with a group of instant yet enduring friends. Off-key singing and close sleeping quarters were endured. Roasted marshmallows and beet-infused vodka were shared. Inside jokes and bawdy humor ran wild. And we spent hours and hours crafting together!

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Underlying Craft-A-Way Camp is an older, deeper dream: the dream of a handmade community. Of friendships rooted in crafting, and crafts rooted in friendship. We catch a glimpse of this community at every Small Craft event, but to be part of it for an entire weekend was a rare and beautiful experience. We hope you’ll be part of next summer’s Craft-A-Way Camp. (There’ll be more information soon!) And we hope you’ll keep working with your friends to bring all your deepest dreams to life.

Please go to our Flickr page to see all the great photos from the weekend!

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