Craft-A-Way Camp 2015: Happy When It Rains

It had to happen eventually. After two years of sunshine, a rainy day came to our third annual summer camp for grownups. But we soon found that at Craft-A-Way Camp, a rainy day is just another opportunity to bond with our friends and explore our creativity. The clouds soon passed, but the camaraderie and inspiration are still going strong.

As we do each year, we gathered at Waterloo Recreation Area, on the fourth Saturday in June. Finding gray skies over our accustomed clearing in the woods, we transformed one of our bunkhouses into a cozy little craft cabin. With snacks and coolers close at hand, and the warm hum of laughter all around, we settled in for a day of uninterrupted crafting. The gentle drumming of rain on roof was our only distraction, so we were free to focus on painting earrings, weaving lanyards, and getting to know our fellow campers.


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Just in time for our campfire, the skies cleared, revealing a beautiful sunset behind the trees. Campers emerged from the cabin, lanyards and yarn-wrapped sticks in hand, and gathered joyfully round the rising flames. Weathering the storm had brought us closer together. And because the fire had once seemed certain not to happen, its songs, s’mores, and sparklers were all the sweeter.

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Sunday was clear and bright, with bugs and humidity cleared from the air. It was the perfect day for a hike in the woods. And to sprawl on the lawn, sinking scarves into buckets of warm indigo. As the day reached its end, nobody wanted to leave. Campers lingered at the outdoor tables, only pausing from their handiwork to hug departing friends. As we said goodbye to Waterloo, the rain that once seemed so threatening was just another cherished memory of camp.

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We are grateful to all the wonderful instructors who helped make this year’s camp so special. Courtney Fischer led us in crafting many lovely pairs of earrings. Val Willer taught us the classic craft of knotting macrame plant hangers. Marcy Davy helped us screen print inspiring felt banners, and showed us how to make lavender-scented sachet pillows. We’d also like to thank crafter, camper, and music teacher Stephanie Thompson, who brought her collection of rhythm instruments to the campfire singalong. Courtney, Val, Marcy, and Stephanie are all strong pillars of our Midwest craft community, and we appreciate their generosity in sharing their time and talents.

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We don’t accept sponsors at Craft-A-Way Camp. (The woods are refreshingly free from advertising, and we strive to keep them that way.) But we always enjoy collaborating with our friends, and sharing gifts with our campers. This year, Liz Drabik of Aromaholic provided us all with custom-made vegan lip balm, that tastes like a crisp IPA on a hot afternoon. Jenny Rostkowski of JKM Soy Candles made us Craft-A-Way candles, with the scent of marshmallows roasting over a campfire. Many thanks to our talented friends! These are the flavors that will carry our minds back to camp throughout the year.

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Last summer, just a few short weeks after camp, a flood swept through our family’s home, destroying all our handmade work, along with countless mementos from years in the craft community. It was a discouraging moment, and it caused us to pause and reconsider how much time we really wanted to spend on planning these kinds of crafty events. It also left us with a lingering terror of rainstorms. Where we once opened the windows to enjoy the soothing rumble of thunder, we now found ourselves nervously checking for signs of rising water.

So when we arrived to set up for this year’s camp, and found the rain pouring down, we were scared. We feared that we were about to see the water destroy another of our most treasured creations.  And when the jokes and crafts began to fill the cabin, and that familiar Craft-A-Way magic was crackling in the air, it was an important turning point. We were able to relax, and enjoy the comfort of a rainy afternoon indoors. And we were able to look forward to more crafty get-togethers in the future.

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People often tell us that Craft-A-Way Camp has made a real difference in their lives. That it has rejuvenated their creativity, or helped them through a difficult time. This summer, it had that effect on us. And we will forever be grateful to the campers whose good humor and resourceful attitudes made that happen. This supportive community is the real heart of Craft-A-Way Camp, and it means more to us every year.

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Nothing will stop Craft-A-Way Camp from returning next summer, or from bringing all its silly fun and serious magic. And when it’s back, you’ll want to be a part of it!

You can see all the photos here!

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Third Annual Craft-A-Way Camp: Applications Are Now Online

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It’s a summer camp for crafty grownups. A beloved annual tradition. And now’s your chance to be a part of it! Craft-A-Way Camp will return to the Michigan woods, June 27-28, for a third season of crafting in the great outdoors. Applications can be submitted today, and will be accepted through May 15. We’re looking forward to being reunited with our regular campers, and to seeing some new faces around the fire. So we hope everyone will feel welcome to apply!

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From screen printed banners to indigo scarves, wooden earrings to knotted plant hangers, we’ve got an exciting lineup of workshops planned. And of course, we’ll enjoy all the traditional activities that make Craft-A-Way Camp so memorable. You can look forward to hiking a leafy trail, sleeping in a rustic cabin, and singing around a crackling fire. But in today’s hectic world, this weekend may be most notable for all the things that don’t happen! You’ll be surprised at how strange and wonderful it feels to turn off your phone, forget about the clock, and reconnect with your creativity.

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If you haven’t yet joined us for Craft-A-Way Camp, we encourage you to take a look at the photos and testimonials from past years. They’ll give you a glimpse of how fun and rewarding a weekend of outdoor crafting can be. And if you have camped with us before, we know you’re already eager to bask in the warm sunshine, crack open a cold beverage, and start wrapping a stick in yarn!

So please send us an application by midnight of May 15. Crafters from the Midwest and beyond will be gathering at our campsite, and you don’t want to miss this opportunity to be among them!

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Gift Wrapping at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair

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Entering its ninth year, the Detroit Urban Craft Fair is well known as the place to find unique holiday gifts. And this year, you can have your gifts wrapped, in a suitably crafty style! On Saturday, December 6, and Sunday, December 7, Michigan’s oldest and longest running indie craft fair will return to the Masonic Temple, with more than 100 vendors. We’ll be there, offering fun gift wrap for all your finds. Our table will also have information about the third annual Craft-A-Way Camp. And it will feature a line of painted mini canvases by Ramona’s Colors. So come to the fair, look for the Craft-A-Way table, and bring home gifts with an intriguing handmade touch.

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Over the past couple of summers, an aesthetic has emerged at Craft-A-Way Camp, our annual retreat for adults. With pops of bright color against a natural background, it  speaks of time spent crafting in the outdoors. At the Detroit Urban Craft Fair, we’ll bring that aesthetic to your gifts, adding colorful handmade toppers to kraft paper packages.

For $6, we’ll provide the right package for any craft. In addition to gift bags and wrapping paper, we’ll offer boxes sized for jewelry and soap; shirts and scarves; mugs and dishes. To decorate your gift, choose braided yarn, painted sticks, or wooden discs, all in vivid camp-themed colors. Relax at our table, while we wrap the gifts for you. Or bring the materials home and DIY! Either way, you’ll have wrap that reflects both the handmade gift inside, and the memorable event where it was found!

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Craft-A-Way Camp has quickly become an annual rite of summer for many local crafters, and it’s always great to see some new faces around the fire! So whether this will be your first visit or your third, we encourage you to join us for a soothing weekend of crafting and socializing in the beautiful Michigan woods. We’ll soon have more details about Craft-A-Way Camp 2015, but we can share that it will take place June 27 – 28. So save the date, and be sure and look back at some memories and photos from past years.

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Our table will also feature  Ramona’s Colors, a line of hand painted mini canvases by Small Craft’s own Ramona Cronkite. At age eight, Ramona is already a veteran of the Detroit Urban Craft Fair, known for her cute creations and irresistible salesmanship. Choose an original illustration of a dancing cat, smiling cloud, friendly alien, or other adorable character. Or wait while Ramona creates a custom canvas on a subject of your choosing! You’ll leave the fair with a one-of-a-kind work of art. She’ll leave with valuable entrepreneurial experience.

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The Detroit Urban Craft Fair is a special occasion, and not only because it showcases so much beautiful handmade work. The festive atmosphere, supportive community, and intergenerational connections all contribute to a weekend like none other. We hope you’ll find all of these elements at our table this year. And we hope you’ll pause and join us in celebrating one of Detroit’s great holiday traditions.

Detroit Urban Craft Fair
Saturday, December 6
10 am – 7 pm
Sunday, December 7
11 am – 6 pm
Masonic Temple
500 Temple Street
Detroit

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October: Painting Class with Amie Hackworth

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For the past three years, we’ve enjoyed getting together with our friends each month for crafts, coffee, and treats. Guests from all over the world have joined us for these relaxing afternoons. And for a few – including ourselves – they’ve become a cherished tradition. But lately, we’ve been learning that it can sometimes be healthy to let go of that which we cherish. So on Saturday, October 11, we’ll gather at the Trumbullplex to paint wooden animals with Amie Hackworth. We’ll enjoy mellow live music, and a silent craft auction. We’ll share free coffee, tea, and homemade, vegan apple cider donuts. And when this class comes to an end, so will our series of monthly get-togethers! While there will be many Small Craft events to come, none will be in this format. So whether you’ve been a familiar face at these gatherings, or you’ve been wondering what they’re like, you won’t want to miss this one!

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Amie Hackworth

Plush squirrels with twinkling eyes, and pincushions made from vintage ceramics.  Yarn-wrapped wreaths with tiny critters, and winsome sparrows on hand-painted tote bags. Amie Hackworth makes a wide range of crafts, and all of them are adorable! Her enamor line has been a favorite at area fairs since 2006. It was in 2013, when Amie joined us at the inaugural Craft-A-Way Camp, that we really got to know the fun and thoughtful woman behind the crafts. We’ve been wanting to collaborate with her ever since, so we’re glad she’s able to join us before this series of Saturday classes comes to an end!

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Amie’s skilled at a variety of crafts, but she’s particularly adept with paint and brush. Since 2011, she’s used those talents to create cute and modern cake toppers for her enamorweddings line. Under her brush, wooden pegs are transformed into stylized yet accurate portraits of the bride and groom.

At our class, she’ll help us turn the pegs into cute woodland animals! Learn some of Amie’s painting secrets, and take home a sweet little fox and raccoon! In return for a $5 materials fee, you’ll be provided with all the tools and supplies you need to make the lovable characters pictured above.

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Gwen Frostic led the way in crafting an independent business. And she was strong in her praise of Michigan’s natural beauty. So we honor her as one of our great heroines, and regard her unique and lovely studio as an important historic site. When we heard that the studio’s roof was collapsing, causing water damage to the interior, we knew we had to help. So at this month’s get-together, we’re hosting a silent auction, to raise money for studio repairs. If you’d like to donate a handmade item, please be in touch! We’ll include it in the auction and donate the proceeds to Gwen Frostic Prints. Many exciting items have already been donated, so we’re looking forward to a great fundraiser!

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Next year, we’ll be hosting fewer events. But each will include a lot more of the hands on workshops, laid back hours, and likeminded crafters our events are known for! At Craft-A-Way Camp, we learned that with additional time, we can really settle into our projects, and join together as a community. So in 2015, we’ll be applying that lesson to our urban get-togethers. Imagine spending a whole day with your crafty friends, exploring several different classes, sharing a tasty lunch, and enjoying some additional surprises!  We’re going to have a lot of fun, so be sure and stay tuned for more information.

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Our monthly get-togethers have never been predictable. Some months, we’ve welcomed a large crowd. Others, just a few close friends. We’ve been joined by a French pop star, and by a child wearing the long, white beard of a gnome. We’ve seen a motorcycle parked in the middle of our workspace, and a craft display built around an old, blue school bus. We wanted to bring this series to a close, before it lost that feeling of limitless possibility. And we wanted to be free to chase that feeling wherever it might lead us. So we’re setting sail for a new era. We hope you’ll join us, as we look back on three wonderful years. And we hope you’ll still be with us, as we find another exciting opportunity to craft together.

Small Craft October Class
Saturday, October 11
2:00 – 6:00 pm
Trumbullplex
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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September: Rust Dye Class with Liz Lewis, Music by Quiet Grrrl

Like many of you, we were hit pretty hard by the recent flood. And like many of you, we’re seeking solace in that which we value most: the handmade, the homemade, and the company of friends. So on Saturday, September 13, we’ll gather at the Trumbullplex for another comforting afternoon of social craft. We’ll learn to dye fabric using rust, with local fiber artist Liz Lewis. We’ll enjoy live music by singer-songwriter Quiet Grrrl. And we’ll share free coffee, tea, and homemade vegan cupcakes. For while so much has been lost in the flood, our creative spirit and crafty community are still here to help us through.

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Fittingly, this month’s class will teach us to make beauty from water’s decay. Rust dyeing is a natural way of dyeing fabric, using rusted metal as the dye source. It’s a contact dye, which means that the fabric will be dyed wherever it’s touched by the metal. The more interesting the shape of your rusted metal, the more exciting your rust dyed fabric will turn out! So bring along a cool piece of rusty metal, if you like. We’ll have some on hand, along with fabric and other supplies. There’s no materials fee for this class, and everyone is welcome to participate.

Liz Lewis is a talented fiber artist, and a professional instructor, with a degree in crafts from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. And she’s a resident of Small Craft’s home port, the Trumbullplex! We’ve been looking forward to working with Liz for some time, but her instruction has been in such demand elsewhere, that it’s been hard to find a date when she could join us! We are thrilled to finally have this opportunity to learn a new craft from an old friend.

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Kayla Freiss is a Detroit singer-songwriter who performs under the name Quiet Grrrl. As the name suggests, she takes a gentle and introspective approach to feminist punk. If you’ve seen Kayla play, you remember her strong voice, bold lyrics, and lovely melodies. And if you were with us at our last couple of get-togethers, you know what a moving experience it is when one of our circle gets up to share her songs.

 

The damage to our own home has made us especially sympathetic to the problems at the Gwen Frostic studio. The roof of this unique and historic building is collapsing, allowing water into the interior. So at our October 11 get-together, we’ll host a silent craft auction, to help raise money for repairs. Please bring a handmade item to our September get-together, so we can include it in our October auction. All proceeds will be donated to Gwen Frostic Prints, and used to repair the studio roof. Gwen Frostic was building a crafty business, and celebrating Michigan’s natural beauty, long before any of us. So it’s only right that Small Craft take part in preserving her legacy.

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Gwen Frostic Studio

The flood took many items that connected us to our history. Countless crafts, both our own and our ancestors’. A scrapbook of articles documenting Amy’s involvement with Handmade Detroit and the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Ethan’s handwritten catalog of the Idle Kids Zine Library. But it also gave us a clearer vision of our future. Small Craft isn’t about adding to clutter, seeking out fame, or wallowing in nostalgia. It’s about taking part in a nourishing creative process, and doing so within a supportive craft community. And moving forward, our commitment to those values will shine brighter than ever.

Small Craft September Class
Saturday, September 13
2:00 – 6:00 pm
Trumbullplex
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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August Class: Quilling with Megan Deel

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At the height of every Small Craft gathering, we all lose sight of the clock, and turn our full attention to the craft at hand. On Saturday, August 9, we’ll lose ourselves in tightly-wound coils of paper, as Megan Deel teaches us the traditional craft of quilling. And as we craft, we’ll enjoy mellow live music, endless hot coffee, and homemade vegan treats. With so many friends around us, and so many good things to share, we’ll forget that summer’s rushing by, and relax into an idle afternoon.

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Megan Deel

In the spirit of DIY, we met a new friend at one Small Craft event, and invited her to teach at the next! Crafter, photographer, and gardener Megan Deel joined us at our Garden Party last month, and captivated us with her description of quilling, a centuries-old craft in which designs are formed by curling strips of colored paper. This month, we’re delighted to have her teach us how to quill! Megan will provide all the paper, tools, and instruction needed to make two small dragonflies and a flower, and to experiment with further techniques. There’s no charge for this class, but if you want to keep exploring this craft at home, you can purchase a slotted quilling tool at the event for $3.50.

As always, you’re also welcome to bring along your own project. Let the conversation, music, and atmosphere inspire you, while you keep working on your favorite craft.

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At September’s October’s Small Craft get-together, we’ll have a silent auction to raise money for the Gwen Frostic studio. The roof of this beautiful and historic building is collapsing, causing water damage to the interior, and funds are needed for repairs. Gwen Frostic was a crafty entrepreneur, and a pioneer in celebrating the natural beauty of Michigan, so we feel it’s only right that the Small Craft community donate to this cause. Please bring a handmade item to our August get-together, and we’ll include it in our silent auction on September 13 October 11. All funds raised will be donated to Gwen Frostic Prints, and used to repair the studio.

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If summer is a dream, August is that last moment when you’re struggling to ignore the cold light of day. You’ve become aware that the dream is fleeting, and you’re trying to make the most of it. If your summer has not yet included a Saturday afternoon at the Trumbullplex, we hope you’ll take this opportunity to join us. Stop and craft awhile, before you hurry on into the fall.

Small Craft August Class
Saturday, August 9
2:00 – 6:00 pm
Trumbullplex
4210 Trumbull
Detroit

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Craft-A-Way Camp 2014: Return to the Dream

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It’s a return to the idyllic summers of the past. To the days when we could give our full attention to crafts and friends. But truth be told, we were a little nervous about returning to Craft-A-Way Camp for a second year. The first year had been so beautiful and dreamlike, it seemed too much to hope that the second could match it. As a wonderful group gathered, however, and began to share crafts and laughter, it immediately became clear that we had nothing to worry about. Craft-A-Way Camp is not just a lovely memory, but a tradition we can return to every summer.

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Like the woods of Waterloo Recreation Area, Craft-A-Way Camp is always changing, yet always reassuringly familiar.

We introduced some new innovations this year. More time was spent getting to know each other, before we plunged into the whirl of crafting. Amanda Schott led us in a hilarious series of camp chants. A second bunkhouse was added, so we’d have room to sleep more comfortably.

But we also brought back many of our favorite customs from last year. Every free moment was filled by painting and wrapping sticks. One cabin wall was shadowed by a massive wall of coolers. The campfire was a place for roasting vegan marshmallows, and singing ’90s R&B hits.

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There was a great moment in our dreamcatcher workshop, when we all realized together that there was no reason to hurry or watch the clock. Crafts were the closest thing we had to a responsibility, so we were free to settle into our work, and forget about the time. Fortunately, our instructors brought a great selection of projects for us to explore.

Andy Sell led us on his annual nature walk, once again dazzling us with his knowledge of Michigan’s plant life and terrain. He then taught us to make lovely prints by hammering the pigment from flowers into sheets of watercolor paper. (Passing horsemen later inquired about the din of hammers echoing through the woods.)

Val Willer introduced us to another craft addiction: tearing and weaving old t-shirts into new jewelry and accessories. Like last year’s wrapped and painted sticks, it’s clear that this will be an ongoing project at future Craft-A-Way Camps.

Special thanks are due to Karen LePage. When instructor Marcy Davy was called away by a family emergency, Karen stepped in and taught her screen printing class. Our beautifully printed Craft-A-Way tote bags are a testimony to her skills as both a crafter and a teacher. And as if that weren’t enough, Karen also taught her own class, sharing two exciting image transfer techniques!

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The woods and the crafts are always amazing, but Craft-A-Way Camp is even more about the friends that gather, and the bonds that form between them. This year, we welcomed back some old friends, and we got to meet some new ones. Campers arrived not only from Michigan, but from Chicago, and six Ohio cities. One couple even travelled all the way from Reno, Nevada! Away from the cares of home, and united by our love of craft, we soon formed a close little community. That shouldn’t be such a rare experience, but in today’s world, it really is. So we’re grateful every time we get to be a part of it.

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We miss the bright stars and the fresh breeze. We miss the hours of uninterrupted crafting. Most of all, we miss our friends! So we’re already making plans for next year’s Craft-A-Way Camp. And for a Winter Lodge where we can be reunited even sooner! Whether it’s your new adventure, or your familiar custom, we hope you’ll join us the next time we get together to craft.

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

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