Craft-A-Way Camp: Canceled

We are sorry to say that we will not be hosting a fourth Craft-A-Way Camp this year. It’s been a difficult decision, and it’s one that pains us to share. We know our grownup summer camp has become a cherished annual tradition for many. We know it would have been a refreshing new adventure for others. And we had been excited about joining all those campers in the woods, for another weekend of crafting, laughing, and singing. But in a year that began with overwhelming family tragedy, we’ve had to revise our summer plans. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause, and we thank you for your understanding.

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At last summer’s camp, we spoke of having had a bad year. We shed a few tears over a flood, that had caused major damage to our home and belongings.

But looking back: we really had no idea how bad a year could be.

In January, Amy’s mother Annette passed away, following a rapid descent into Alzheimer’s disease. Amy had been responsible for her care, so Annette had played a major role in our daily life. Her absence is felt acutely.

Just three weeks later, Amy’s brother died, after suffering a stroke. Michael was strong, active, and only 48 years old.  His sudden passing came as a shock, not only to us, but to the entire city of Rockford, Michigan, where he was a beloved and dynamic community leader.

Each of these tragedies was devastating. To experience both, in such rapid succession, has completely upended our world. All of our old certainties suddenly seem very fragile. When we concluded, in last year’s recap, that “nothing will stop Craft-A-Way Camp from returning next summer,” we surely were not anticipating anything like this.

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Beyond the crafts and other camp activities, Craft-A-Way has always been about sharing an emotional bond. There’s something about stepping away from our routines, and gathering in the woods, that allows us all to let down our guard, and connect on a deeper level. Right now, that kind of connection is challenging for us. And it can be daunting for others. (Even the most casual conversation with Amy tends to end in tears these days.) It’s not fair to ask campers to spend a weekend dealing with our raw and difficult emotions.

Camp is also about relaxing and having fun. But that carefree weekend is built on a foundation of hard work. This year, we aren’t able to give Craft-A-Way the effort it deserves. We’re finding that we need to devote all our time and energy to our family’s grieving process.

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Craft-A-Way Camp will not be back this year. But the green’s returning to the trees, and summer’s warmth is on its way. There are friends to hug, crafts to make, and sweet old songs to be sung. And over the past three years, we’ve seen that real magic can happen, when you bring those elements together. So go outside, pass the bottle, and wrap a few sticks in yarn. You just might find a trace of that familiar Craft-A-Way spirit.

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Bead Necklace Make and Take at Detroit Urban Craft Fair

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We remember when Detroit had no indie craft fairs. And we remember the excitement when the first one opened its doors. For us, as for many others, that moment set our life on a new course. So we’re proud to be a part of the Detroit Urban Craft Fair’s 10th Anniversary Party and Preview! On Friday, December 4, from 6 to 9 pm, you’ll find us at the Masonic Temple, offering a free make and take project. Michigan’s largest and longest-running indie craft fair will be in full swing, with more than 100 vendors, plus all sorts of opening night festivities. And we’ll have all the tools, materials, and instruction needed to make a necklace inspired by Craft-A-Way Camp! Enjoy an early look at the craft fair, learn about next summer’s camp, and take home your own handmade creation.

Having experienced DUCF’s rise from strange new idea to beloved annual tradition, we know how much can be accomplished through constant effort and careful planning. So when we found ourselves dreaming of a summer craft camp for adults, we started working to make it a reality. We’re now looking back at three seasons of Craft-A-Way Camp, and preparing for a fourth. And it’s every bit as fun as we’d imagined! Every summer, crafters from around the Midwest gather in the Michigan woods for a weekend of campfire singalongs, nature hikes, and outdoor crafting. If that sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, you’ll want to stop by our table at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair for more information!

This year’s DUCF is a three-day extravaganza, starting Friday, December 4; and continuing Saturday, December 5; and Sunday, December 6. Friday night is a special party, offering early access to the handmade goods, and raising funds for local nonprofit Living Arts. The party will feature hands-on activities, including a make and take with floral designers pot & box. (Creators of the amazing Flower House, and hosts of our February 2013 get-together!) At our Craft-A-Way table, campers will be sharing memories and answering questions. Save-the-date postcards will be available. (Our fourth annual camp will take place June 25 – 26.) And you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at a jewelry-making project from a past summer.

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The bead necklace workshop was a highlight of our first Craft-A-Way Camp, in 2013. Led by jeweler Courtney Fischer, it had all the hallmarks of a classic Craft-A-Way project. It was simple enough to be easily completed while laughing with friends and enjoying a cold beer. Yet it resulted in beautiful jewelry, that our campers continue to wear proudly. And in the contrast between vivid paint and natural wood, the necklaces reflect the experience of crafting in the outdoors. There’s no better way to understand Craft-A-Way Camp than to pause and make something by hand. So we hope you’ll take a moment to visit with us and paint some beads.

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Detroit had a storied tradition of creative innovation and DIY community, long before the first DUCF. But it was not yet plugged into the network of indie craft fairs that had begun spreading through the nation’s cities. Small Craft’s Amy Cronkite was one of a small group of women who planned and implemented the first Detroit Urban Craft Fair. And as a partner in Handmade Detroit, she’s worked to keep it growing and thriving through the years.

If there’s one visionary who brought that group together, it’s Stephanie Tardy Duimstra. We had just recently moved to the area, and knew few people here, when Stephanie reached out and invited Amy to participate in planning the first DUCF. That warm, welcoming gesture brought us into the community. It made all the projects we’ve done here possible. And it’s a great example of indie craft culture at its best. Stephanie still sells at DUCF, under the name Type Shy. We’ll be stopping by her table to shop for beautiful handmade paper goods, and to thank Stephanie for all she’s done. We encourage you to do the same!

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Our daughter has never known a time without the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. We attended the fair’s first planning meeting just five days before she was born. At the inaugural DUCF, she was a seven month-old baby in our arms. At the most recent fair, she was a vendor, selling her own line of handmade goods. She’s growing up in a world where a market’s been built for her wildest notions. Where a community rallies to support her goals. Where honest work can bring her dreams into the daylight. In these and other ways, it’s a better world than the one we inherited. We can’t wait to see what she makes of it.

Detroit Urban Craft Fair 10th Anniversary Party and Preview
Friday, December 4
6 pm – 9 pm
Admission: $10
Make and take: free
Masonic Temple
500 Temple Street
Detroit

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Indigo Workshop at Handmade Toledo

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We started dyeing with indigo, and we couldn’t get enough! The rich history, the magical chemistry, the meditative process: everything about it is endlessly fascinating. So on Saturday, September 19, Small Craft’s Ethan Cronkite will bring his popular indigo dye workshop to Handmade Toledo! We’ll add brilliant blue patterns to cotton scarves, using resist-dye techniques inspired by traditional Japanese shibori. We’ll watch the dye change color before our eyes. And we’ll discuss the ancient relationship between our human cultures and this natural compound. If you remember Ethan’s indigo workshop at this summer’s Craft-A-Way Camp, you already know how fun this will be! And if you haven’t dyed with indigo before, this will be a great opportunity to begin.

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We’ll provide all the tools and materials needed, including a lovely scarf for each participant. But we also encourage you to bring along your own cotton items, and add them to the dye vat. You’ll find that it’s very pleasant, massaging the warm dye into the fabric. And almost hypnotic, watching the dye change from bright green to deep blue. With all the resist-dye techniques to explore, and crafty friends to meet, you definitely won’t want to stop after completing your scarf!

While we’re working, we’ll share a few stories from indigo’s many centuries as a dye. (Ethan is a librarian, so he’s always happy to share some good stories!) We’ll focus on Japan, where cotton fabric and indigo dye were once the basis for a vibrant network of cottage industries. And where the elaborate set of techniques known as shibori brought resist-dyeing to new heights. While authentic shibori is far beyond the scope of this workshop, it is the source of the easy techniques we’ll be practicing.

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Two summers ago, we were enjoying our annual Craft-A-Way nature walk, when camper Betty Floored gave us some exciting news. Her organization, Handmade Toledo, was moving into a brick-and-mortar space! Not only would they be selling crafts there, but also offering classes and hosting events. We’re pleased to have watched Handmade Toledo’s Maker Shoppe become a reality. And we’re proud that our indigo workshop will be among the first round of classes offered in this inspiring space.

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It’s no surprise that we keep returning to the indigo vat. Just as it’s no surprise that we keep gathering to craft with friends. After all, people have been working with indigo for thousands of years. And for even longer, they’ve been sharing the joy of making by hand. It feels so right when we come back to these ways, like singers to the chorus of an old folk song. If you crave that feeling like we do, you’ll want to be sure and join us for our next afternoon of crafting and community.

Indigo Workshop
Saturday, September 19
2:00 – 4:00 pm
$58
Handmade Toledo
1717 Adams Street
Toledo, OH

For more info, and to register for the class, please visit Handmade Toledo’s site.

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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 Hackworth

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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