Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Craft Revolution - Columbus Dispatch

New generation of do-it-yourselfers churns out goods
Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:39 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Embroidery instructor Amy Dalrymple Murphy, left, helps Jill Burton get started during an embroidery class at Wholly Craft!

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COURTNEY HERGESHEIMER | DISPATCH

Embroidery instructor Amy Dalrymple Murphy, left, helps Jill Burton get started during an embroidery class at Wholly Craft!

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COURTNEY HERGESHEIMER | DISPATCH
Crocheted anatomical heart Shannon Gerard (Toronto): $8

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LEONARDO CARRIZO | DISPATCH PHOTOS

Crocheted anatomical heart Shannon Gerard (Toronto): $8

Bottlecap pin Emily Kircher (Madison, Wis.): $5

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Bottlecap pin Emily Kircher (Madison, Wis.): $5

Ohio corn pin AmyD (Columbus): $5

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Ohio corn pin AmyD (Columbus): $5

Hand-sewn stationery Umbrella Girl Productions (Columbus): $7

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Hand-sewn stationery Umbrella Girl Productions (Columbus): $7

Olivera Bratich, owner of Wholly Craft! in the Clintonville neighborhood

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COURTNEY HERGESHEIMER | DISPATCH

Olivera Bratich, owner of Wholly Craft! in the Clintonville neighborhood

Inside a cotton-candy-colored shop, where crocheted cupcakes hang in the windows and indie-rock tunes float through the air, seven women sat with sewing needles.

Their teacher, 39-year-old Amy Dalrymple Murphy, sporting pink Converse sneakers and jeans with pinup-girl patches, struggled to perfect a difficult stitch.

"OK, this one makes you want to shoot someone in the face," she said. "But isn't it pretty?"

Hosting the kitschy klatsch: Wholly Craft!, a Clintonville neighborhood shop whose shelves hold jewelry made from recyclables, tote bags fashioned from T-shirts and body soap in the shape of grenades.

Patrons can buy washable cloth menstrual pads, aprons with a sewn-in pocket for beer bottles or embroidery patterns featuring geese and the phrase "Honk if you're horny."

"People think things are low-quality if they're goofy," said shop owner Olivera Bratich, 28. "But the best stuff can be offbeat and irreverent."

Although independent crafters have been doing business for years, their wares were typically relegated to infrequent bazaars or homespun Web sites.

A rise in the do-it-yourself culture, blog buzz and the desire to shop locally have helped old-school crafting make a comeback, fueled by new-wave aesthetics and an all-inclusive attitude.

"There's been a big resurgence," said Adam Brown, spokesman for www.etsy.com, a New York marketplace for crafts. "You're buying directly from the creator."

Founded in 2005, Etsy counts 200,000 active sellers and lists 3.2 million handmade items. It took in about $90 million in total sales last year.

Murphy was one of only a few Etsy sellers in Columbus when she joined four years ago. Now, Brown said, central Ohio counts more than 1,000 sellers on the site, with several locals among Etsy's overall top earners.

"(Etsy) changed what people's idea of crafting is," Murphy said. "I could relate to all this stuff I had never seen before."

Such business, however, isn't exclusive to the Web. Brick-and-mortar spaces for crafts are growing, and, in some cases, thriving.

Bratich opened Wholly Craft! in 2005, moving two years later to a larger neighboring storefront as her clientele grew. The goods, sold on consignment, are made by independent crafters throughout North America with cheeky product lines such as Damned Dollies and Get Felt Up. Many sellers are in central Ohio.

Murphy, who makes custom clothing from "found" materials, opened a shop nearby last summer.

Sew to Speak -- a store dealing in independent fabrics and sewing instruction, which last month celebrated its first year in business -- operates on High Street north of Henderson Road.

And, in December, Washington transplant Libby Bruce opened the high-end yarn store Wonder Knit next to Wholly Craft! along a retail strip the 27-year-old has dubbed the "Clintonville Crafts District."

Meanwhile, about 20 alt-crafters known as the Columbus Crafty Cotillion meet monthly to encourage one another while cultivating and promoting local crafts.

Most sellers still rely on day jobs to make a living. But the work, with its anti-corporate roots in punk-rock culture, is satisfying, said Emily-Kitturah Westenhouser, a 30-year-old Columbus art teacher who makes hand-sewn stationery from vintage paper.

"I think people are really excited to buy handmade things," she said.

Amy Neiwirth, an art teacher from the Short North who creates polymer-clay jewelry pieces that resemble food and sweets, said she's "lucky to break even" but has expanded to sell her crafts at Chicago and Boston stores.

Thanks to networking, Neiwirth's work last year caught the eye of Hollywood: Pieces from her Sweet Stella Designs label were included in the MTV Movie Awards gift bags.

"My time-management skills are getting a workout," said Neiwirth, 28. "It's a labor of love."

Her peers understand.

At a recent Columbus Crafty Cotillion gathering, an open get-together on the last Monday of each month at the Surly Girl Saloon, the ladies wind down by talking business, Bedazzlers and boyfriends over beers.

"I know I can come here and say, 'What are you working on?' " said Megan Green, a 31-year-old office manager and crafter from Merion Village who makes soap and plush monsters.

"They're an awesome source of inspiration."

kjoy@dispatch.com


Gatherings

Some developments in the growing alt-craft scene:

• The addition of an indie-craft fair to the sixth Agora gathering, a twice-yearly art, music and performance show at Junctionview Studios in Grandview Heights

• The return of Artisan Sundays at the North Market -- a summer craft sale founded last year that will be staged twice monthly from May through October

• The continuation of the Craftin' Outlaws and Tiny Canary fairs in the fall (seller applications for both events are up, organizers say)

• The debut -- in the spring -- of three new craft-centered events: Kidzartz, the Columbus Torah Academy Craftstravaganza and the Etsy Team Columbus Eco-Chic Craftacular

• The Ohio State Fair's recent approval of Columbus Crafty Cotillion's indie-craft bazaar at this year's fair



Hey Ohio!!! You can now find Lova Revolutionary : Handmade + Art @ Wholly Craft! Stop by and check out my lovely Owl Brooches, Birdie Brooches, & Big Tweet Plush! (P.S. My fam hails from the Cleveland Area, Go Ohio! Get Crafty)

4 comments:

rachellovespeace said...

your owls are lovely ♥

Lova Revolutionary said...

Thanks! I'll be posting more on Etsy really soon!

Lorie said...

What cute owls!!

soapdeli said...

Incredibly cute owls! I really like them!