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Event Review: World Maker Faire 2010

Reported by Rachel Johnson


What do you get when you combine a craft show, a technology expo, a science museum, crazy inventions, Martha Stewart, music, costumes, and delicious food? The World Maker Faire 2010 that took place last weekend in New York. I attended the Faire on Sunday and it was quite the scene!
The Maker Faire was held at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens (the location of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World Fairs). Exhibits were spread throughout the interior of the science museum (seen above) and also in the surrounding park area. There were craft areas, technology areas, building and construction areas, demonstration stages… too many different booths and exhibits to keep track of!

I made sure to visit the Craft Pavilion, which had a Craftzine.com booth (seen above), as well as a Lion Brand Yarn station where you could learn to knit or crochet, and a Xyron table where you could play with all of their different craft tools and pick up your own, free sticker maker! Score!


Martha Stewart Living was one of the main sponsors of the Maker Faire and the magazine had a huge booth where you could make butterfly wands and giant papier mache bones. They also had two spooky backdrops set up that you could pose in and get your photo taken by their professional photographer. I forced my husband to pose with me in the butterfly library (all of the resulting portraits can be viewed in the Martha Stewart Living Maker Faire Flickr group).

One of the things that I was most looking forward to at Maker Faire was the Bust Magazine Craftacular that was held in conjunction. I always love a good craft fair, and this one was billed to have over 100 vendors and appearances by some big name craft personalities.
Since I am not a vendor, I can’t be sure, but I would guess that the Craftacular was maybe not as successful as many would have hoped. It was spread out in the parking lot outside the Hall of Science and was a little lackluster. Because it cost $25 to get into the Maker Faire, some visitors may not have been in the mood to shop once they got inside. I didn’t see any purchases being made. However, some of the excitement may have been drained by the second day, when I visited. Plus, it was over-cast and a little rainy on Sunday, which didn’t help. All that being said, there were some awesome vendors to check out. Here are some of my favorites…

Sharp Shirter had really funny, manly t-shirts – their banner definitely caught my eye!

Perch Ceramics had absolutely beautiful bird houses and other delicate ceramic vessels. I loved these salt and pepper shakers.
Kate Durkin’s booth was beautifully presented and her hand-stitched animal pillows are adorable.

I just had to take a photo of this booth: Jersey Shore Baby. Very funny — and somewhat disturbing — baby clothes.

After pursuing the Craftacular, my husband and I ventured out to explore the more technological and mechanical offerings at the Maker Faire. We saw lots of crazy contraptions like the crazy lady “chariot” seen above. There was also a “jet-powered pony” ride (that was incredibly noisy), a life size mousetrap game, recycled “junk” art areas, the Maker Shed, kid-powered rides, a robot fabrication tent, and much more! It was a lot to take in and eventually we had to stop for a food break.

I got this delicious Cauliflower Salad from Scratch Bread and liked it so much that I had to spread the word. Yum!

Overall, the Maker Faire was a lot fun and a great one-day adventure. I am so glad I attended it because I had been hearing about the previous Maker Faires for years and had grown increasingly curious. The Faire was definitely a family-friendly event, with lots of activities geared directly toward kids, like the alien parade shown above, and the Young Makers Pavilion, not to mention the full interactive science museum with a 60,000 square foot outdoor Science Playground. We saw a lot of families and all of the kids seemed to be having a great time. If you have children, I would definitely recommend attending a Maker Faire!
Did you attend the World Maker Faire in New York? What did you think? Have you attended previous Maker Faires in other cities? How did they compare?

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Three New York City Textile Craft Resources

Reported by Rachel Johnson
There are so many neighborhoods, shopping districts, and stores in New York City that it is hard to know where to even start when looking for craft supplies. I felt overwhelmed and lost when I first arrived, but have slowly discovered some fantastic craft supply resources. Today I will share three off my favorite places to go for textile craft (like sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc.) supplies: Purl Soho, Mood Fabrics, and M & J Trimming.
Purl is a beautiful, little store in Soho (obviously) that recently moved to a new location on Broome Street. The shop walls are lined with bins of gorgeous, natural fiber yarn and racks of cotton fabric. They also sell unique trims, thread, craft kits, needles, etc – just about everything you’d need to make unique and lovely craft projects. Last time I was there, I picked up delicate, Japanese pom pom fringe and a cute pack of Sukie stationery. The store is an absolute delight, and even though some of the prices seem high, I can always find a little something that I need to take home.

If you live in NY, you can take knitting, crocheting, and sewing classes at the store. Everyone else can shop Purl’s stylish selection of supplies online.

If you are a serious seamstress, you must visit Mood Fabric in the garment district. It is a giant three-story warehouse space stuffed full of every type of fabric imaginable. It is a bit daunting to visit if you plan to simply browse, but if you are looking for something specific, they are sure to have it. They also have rows and racks of ribbon, thread, and trim, all of which is mainly intended for use in fashion and interior decor. Last time I was at Mood I was too overwhelmed to choose any fabric, but I did manage to purchase some pretty radical neon ribbon.

Mood has been featured on the tv show, Project Runway, which has increased its popularity (and perhaps its prices). There are many other fabric stores in the garment district, but I have not visited any with the amazing selection found at Mood. Visiting the store is definitely a fun experience, but you can also shop much of their selection on their website.
M & J Trimming is a store I learned about years before moving to New York and longed to visit. As evident by the name, it is a store devoted entirely to trim – ribbon, fringe, sequins, tassels, cords, buttons, lace, etc. The store was opened in 1936 in the garment district and it has since grown to 5,000 square feet full of trimming. My favorite is the grosgrain ribbon!

I don’t do a lot of fashion sewing that requires fanciful trim, but I love using it within scrapbook pages and other paper crafts. I also like to use fabric ribbon when wrapping packages, so every time I am in the neighborhood, I pick up ribbon from M & J. Their selection is unrivaled (if you aren’t in the neighborhood, you can shop online).
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If you live in New York, or if you are visiting the city, I recommend putting these three textile craft stores on your crafty sight-seeing list.
What other NY craft stores do you love and recommend?
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Event Review: Spring Handmade Cavalcade

Reported by Rachel Johnson

The Spring Handmade Cavalcade is a seasonal craft fair hosted by The {NewNew} Etsy Street Team (you may remember my reviews of the Fall and Winter Cavalcades from last year). On Saturday, April 24th, the Spring Cavalcade was held in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at Berry Park, a biergarten/restaurant with a huge rooftop patio. The twenty-five vendor booths were spread out within the entire building and on the roof. It was a fun and casual setting that was very welcoming to the weekend foot traffic.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that my website, Swap-bot.com, was an official sponsor of the Spring Handmade Cavalcade. That means that we provided financial support for the event in exchange for advertising in the event materials and a booth at the event (that’s me manning our table above). Compared to the amazing artist booths, the Swap-bot booth was very amateurish — The {NewNew} crafters are pros! — but we had a great time meeting all the handmade shoppers and spreading the word about Swap-bot. Over 1,500 shoppers passed through the event and many picked up some of our free swag.

The Swap-bot table was located right across the aisle from the Communal Table food booth, which was selling all of the wonderful treats you see above. This was a very good thing, because I forgot to pack snacks! We bought banana bread, pumpkin whoopie pies, and chocolate chip cookies over the course of the day. All of which were awesomely delicious. Deena Lebow, owner of Communal Table, does some catering and fair sales (like Handmade Cavalcade), but her real mission is hosting group dinners that bring “art, ideas, activism and food right to the table.” They sound like amazing events.

There were so many exceptional artists selling their wares at the event. I snapped photos of a few of my favorite booths (after asking permission, of course!). This colorful table belongs to Jen Pepper of Peppersprouts. She is a graphic designer who makes brooches, necklaces, trivets and more featuring laser-cut silhouettes. Her instant-film brooch is ingenious!

Above is Nguyen Le of KnitKnit. I first met Nguyen at an Etsy Labs Craft Night that she hosted on needle felting. She is extremely sweet and talented. She knits and felts everything from handbags to earrings with an artistic edge. I especially love her needle felted cameo necklaces.


These lovely, screen printed dresses were all made by Karin Persan of Better Than Jam. Karin is a textile designer who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002, and she now has her own store, the Better Than Jam Handmade Co-op in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

These sweet illustrations are from Virginia Kraljevic. I just loved their whimsical feel and the turquoise and lime color combos!
Like I’ve already said, there were so many fabulous booths at the Spring Handmade Cavalcade, but perhaps my favorite was Miniature Rhino. Jessica Marquez, the artist behind Miniature Rhino, makes vintage-inspired embroidery, paper goods, and “curious objects,” but my favorite of her offerings is her letter-writing service. You can purchase the service from her Etsy store and she will type your message (on her typewriter), and then mail it in a custom glass bottle within a tiny box to your recipient. Such a sweet and unique idea!
The Spring Handmade Cavalcade was a well organized, but laid back Saturday of fun blessed with excellent, sunny weather. But if you missed it, don’t fret! The {NewNew} will be hosting their next event, Crafts in Chelsea, on Saturday, May 8th. Will I see you there?
Summer is definitely craft fair season! What other craft events will you be checking out in your area?
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

One of a Kind Show, New York

Reported by Rachel Johnson

The One of a Kind Show and Sale is a yearly event that happens in Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, and for the first time this year, New York City. (You can read Sarah Moore’s review of the Chicago show here.) On Friday, I braved the super-cold temperatures and headed out to Pier 94 to check out the show, which was described as an “an extraordinary holiday shopping show featuring the best in fine art and fine craft from hundreds of unique artists, artisans, and designers from across North America.” I was very curious to find out what the event had to offer.

My first stop once I was inside the doors was the crafting area. A bunch of cool, crafty companies were hosting “make and take” projects and I wanted to get in on the fun. I stopped by the ReadyMade and Janome booth where you could work on gift tags or sew pillows on Janome sewing machines. I also got to sign up for a complimentary, one-year ReadyMade magazine subscription just for attending the One of a Kind Show! Sweet!
Next, I stopped by the Hello Craft area, where they had all sorts of craft supplies available, including a button maker! Hello Craft is a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. The Hello Craft representatives, Sara and Kim, were so kind and informative that I decided to purchase a Hello Craft membership on the spot!
Then, I headed to the Etsy DIY area. Etsy had adorable fabric ornament kits that you could work on there, or take home to make later. (They had the custom fabric for the ornaments printed at Spoonflower.) I grabbed a kit for later and chatted up the Etsy representatives. They explained how Etsy was excited to be sponsoring both the DIY area and an Etsy Pavilion at the One of a Kind Show because they wanted to help the new wave of crafters break into the more traditional and established arts and craft world. It was great to see such a large website supporting their users in a tangible way!
At the Etsy Pavilion you could find twenty-four juried Etsy vendors all in one area. They also had a welcome booth with lots of information about Etsy.com and some free swag. There were plenty of unique crafts within the pavilion, but my two favorite booths were Gock’s Frocks felted wool clothing and Jill K. Davis Jewelry.
Kristen Gocker Hallagan of Gock’s Frocks makes adorable children’s clothing, stuffed animals, scarves, and more out of fabric and recycled, felted wool sweaters. She works on her craft full time, but has just started branching into the craft show scene. I bought a cute, felted wool flower pin from her that I plan to put on my plain black coat.
Jill K. Davis makes unique and charming silver and gold jewelry that often features a picturesque little house. I was enamored with her detailed work, and promised myself that I would purchase one of her amazing necklaces in the future!
Outside of the Etsy Pavilion there were hundreds of other vendors ranging from jewelry and fashion to food and photography. I kept track of all of my favorite booths, including the one above: Smitten Kitten. The Smitten Kitten booth immediately drew me in. It was all pink and colorful, but the beautiful statement necklaces are what really caught my eye. My little photos above do not do them justice. The designer, Amy, creates the necklaces using chunky, colorful beads and silk kanzashi flowers she has folded using vintage scarves. Oh, how I wanted one! Sadly, the prices were a bit too high for me on the necklaces, so I settled for a very cute, bright pink kanzashi flower pin.
I had a lot of fun checking out the Apexspire Jewelry booth. Above is a photo of Karen Clark, the designer of Apexspire. The understated beaded necklaces and earrings were both simple and detailed at the same time. I had a hard time deciding on only one item, but finally bought a very sweet pair of aquamarine bead earrings.
One of my absolute favorite booths at the One of a Kind Show and previously at the Brooklyn Flea, is the photography of John Murphy. Murphy creates vivid, striking photographs using small sets he constructs in his studio. He then frames the surreal images in super-bright, hand finished frames. I would love to own one of Murphy’s pieces, but for now I am making due with his Flora & Fauna stationery set.

Last but not least on my list of favorite vendors is the Rogue Confections booth. This booth blew me away with the beautiful design of both the environment and the intricate patterns printed on the handmade Belgian chocolates. I was amazed to learn that founder, Sherri Adler, was doing the initial launch of Rogue Confections right there at the One of a Kind show – everything about the booth was extremely professional and lovely. The free samples of the chocolate were delicious, and I will definitely keep the box sets in mind for future gift giving.
Overall, the One of a Kind show was a lot of fun and I got to check out a bunch of new crafters and network with many creative folks. The only downside is that I overheard a lot of the vendors express disappointment with the level of shopper turnout. A few people told me that they had talked to more press representatives and shop owners than actual holiday shoppers.
Did you attend the One of a Kind Show in any of its locations? What did you think? Did the number of shoppers pick up on the weekend in NY? Did you buy any holiday gifts or something for yourself at the show?
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

A Craft-Filled Saturday in New York City

Reported by Rachel Johnson
Last weekend was a packed full of craft shows in New York City! I managed to make it to two great events on Saturday: the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade and the Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Sale. Both shows had dozens of quality craft vendors and were extremely busy with shoppers.
I made sure to be at the Handmade Cavalcade show right when they opened at 11 am so I could pick up my generous goodie bag. (The goodie bags were fantastic, with promo samples from local craft stores, postcards, three tote bags, a free issue of ReadyMade magazine, and a complimentary pass to the upcoming One of a Kind Show in NYC – very cool!) Even though I arrived early, the show was already packed with shoppers.
The Handmade Cavalcade vendors were spread throughout three rooms in the Openhouse Gallery on Mulberry Street in the Lower East Side. The layout was well-organized and each shopper received a very clear map upon entry, but the high number of shoppers made navigating the venue a bit tricky.
Despite the crowd, I got to browse tons of fantastic handmade goods and managed to pick up a few holiday gifts. I bought two pieces of amazing jewelry from Yania Creations. Her jewelry is made with only the highest quality semiprecious stones and metals. The designs are clean and simple, but exceptionally beautiful. I also bought a cute journal made out of a reclaimed envelope and assorted papers from Julie of Your Secret Admiral. Julie works at Etsy in the community department and she makes whimsical and very cool paper goods and journals. Another of my favorite vendors at Handmade Cavalcade was Red Bridge Studio, a textile design company based in Brooklyn. Tyshawn from Red Bridge Studio creates pillows, bags, and other textile products using natural fiber fabrics that have been hand-silkscreened using her original designs. I didn’t buy anything on Saturday from Red Bridge Studio, but I have in the past and love the prints and quality!
After making sure I had seen everything at the Handmade Cavalcade show, I headed over to the Martha Stewart Omnimedia offices to attend the first ever public Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Sale. For some silly reason, I had thought the Martha Stewart Sale wouldn’t be very crowded – I was very wrong! When I got to the building there was a huge line outside of people waiting to get into the sale. At first I was bummed to be standing in line, but it actually moved very quickly and the line helped keep the size of the crowd inside the venue from becoming overwhelming. Once I got in, I was very impressed with the large, clean, white warehouse space and the pretty Martha Stewart craft displays and vendor tables. Of course, I didn’t really expect anything but perfection from the Martha Stewart staff! (That is me above posing in front of the huge Martha Stewart Living magazine cover.)
The craft vendors at the Martha Sale had really amazing things for sale, and I was a little star struck by a few of the crafters – namely, Jodi Levine and Lotta Jansdotter. Levine is an Editorial Director and Designer who works for Martha Stewart Omnimedia and she is often on The Martha Stewart Show, but I have admired her ever since I was planning my wedding years ago and fell in love with her wedding in the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. Jansdotter is an internationally renowned textile designer who has published multiple books, not to mention the fact that she looked like a model standing behind her table…
Basically, I felt intimidated by the Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Sale. The set-up was immaculate (above is the pretty “Sweet Shop” where you could buy candy snacks) and it was fun to get a peak inside the Martha Stewart world, but I didn’t end up buying anything. If it is possible, I think the vendors were too fashionable (lots of giant necklaces and mustaches) and I felt a bit overwhelmed by the use of the words “couture,” “high end,” and “upscale” in many of the sellers’ descriptions. Also, the prices were quite high. I really do feel that the items were probably worth their prices, but I was not prepared to spend the type of money they were asking. I almost bought some extremely adorable iced sugar cookies from the Sweet Dani B table (her cookies were seen in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living), until I saw that they were $16 a piece. I really loved them, but couldn’t afford them. I hope I’m not revealing myself as low class! Maybe, I am still getting used to New York City prices…
Did you go to any craft sales or fairs over the weekend? If you attended the Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Sale, what did you think of it? Did you buy anything? Did anyone make it to the Bust Craftacular here in NYC on Sunday? I meant to go, but got distracted…
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Handmade Cavalcade: Big City Crafters, Small Town Charm

Reported by Rachel Johnson


I have only been living in New York City for six months, but in that short time I have discovered a huge and thriving craft community within this huge and exciting metropolis. The crafty NY ecosystem seems to be roughly focused around the Brooklyn area. There are near weekly craft shows, meet-ups, plus The Brooklyn Flea and the Brooklyn Indie Market. Perhaps most importantly, Etsy has their main office in Brooklyn, and one of the most active Etsy Teams, The {New New}, plays a part in much of the crafty activity in the city. (Etsy Teams are groups of organized Etsy members formed around a shared location or interest who network, share skills, and promote their shops together. The {New New} represents artists and crafts people from the the entire New York metro area, including New Jersey and Connecticut.)


Despite the many craft opportunities within the bustling city, sometimes I need to get out of town – and The {New New} agrees! On Saturday, September 12th, they hosted their fall Handmade Cavalcade craft show in the small city of Beacon, about two hours north of NYC. Beacon is an emerging art mecca, with a contemporary art museum, galleries, and a large number of local artisans. The Handmade Cavalcade show was held in conjunction with Beacon’s Second Saturday art celebration event, which made it an even more attractive reason for a day trip.



The craft show was held just off Main Street in the wood shop of Jon and Kristy Reichert (creators of Beacon Bookmarks) and outside Lydia Lynch’s Paper Presence stationery shop. I arrived late in the afternoon, and the weather was not being extremely cooperative – it was overcast, chilly, and a little rainy. The icky weather may have decreased the size of the shopping crowd slightly, but it did not dampen the crafty vendor’s spirits. Each booth was unique and fun, and the wide variety of items for sale ranged from greeting cards and jewelry to handmade soaps and baked goods (seen above is the Pulp Sushi jewelry booth and Nordea’s Soaperie).



The majority of the Handmade Cavalcade vendors live and work in New York City, but about a quarter of them live in Beacon or its surrounding towns. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. I had fun browsing the lovely handmade items and chatting with many of the crafters (above is the adorable Felt It booth and Jody Lee’s A Studio by the Sea jewelry and glass bead booth). You can view a full list of the vendors on the Handmade cavalcade website.

The tag line of the Handmade Cavalcade was “bringing you the top tier of contemporary craft” and the show lived up to those words. The organization and marketing of the event was superb, and the artisans were all talented and professional. I am looking forward to The {New New}’s upcoming Crafts in Chelsea event on October 17th, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the New York City area.



Tell us about the crafty events going on in your neck of the woods!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

The Renegade Craft Fair

Reported by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer


The Renegade Craft Fair calls itself, “a unique DIY event organized by Sue Blatt + Kathleen Habbley. When this event began in 2003, there was nothing else like it. We took up crafts as a hobby after college and decided to try selling our stuff in local fairs. To our surprise, no events were catering to the burgeoning DIY craft community or even prohibited crafts all together. So we thought of organizing a fair of our own that tapped into this movement and provided a laid back, fresh venue for artists and shoppers alike.”

Intriguing, right?

Well, today I hopped on the L train and headed out to Williamsburg (a hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn) to check it out for myself. The craft fair was situated in an empty pool. A very funky location! (Though given the unrelenting sun and heat, I did wish that the pool were full of water.) Alternative rock played over several loudspeakers, an ice cream truck sold soft serve to dozens of sweaty customers, and a vendor sold tofu dogs and other vegan appropriate food off of a grill.


My cousin and I jumped (literally, we had to in order to get in) into the deep end of the pool and started looking. Color was everywhere. The line between vendor and customer was thin: both wore thrift store chic, piercing and tattoos abounded, most were in their twenties and thirties, and nobody was afraid of color. The most common items being sold were purses and bags, silkscreened t-shirts, letterpress notecards, and fuzzy stuffed monsters. There was also a smattering of jewelry, pottery, and funky animal sculptures.

It was a very low key, chilled out atmosphere. People were surprisingly okay with us taking photos of their stuff. Though, one woman did confront me to ask who I was taking photos for (the photo I was taking was of the leather dress). She didn’t have a problem when I told her it was Craft Critique, but said, “This one company screws us over, again and again.” To a certain extent, I’m not surprised. The treat of the Renegade Craft Fair is all the genius ideas; simple execution most of the time, but really clever concepts. No doubt this causes any number of thefts. It’s easy to take a photo and then reproduce the item from the photo. Icky.


I have to say, even though I didn’t feel particularly motivated to buy (perhaps it was the heat, or the fact that I felt I could make most things being sold myself), I would definitely go back. And prices were reasonable enough that had it not been so miserable out, it’s very likely that I would have lingered at each booth and picked up some funky new treats. I encourage anyone in the Chicago or New York area to spend a day enjoying the fresh, funky, relaxed vibe of the Renegade Craft Fair.

Here are a few artists with their work:

• Images 1 and 2: Caitlin Phillips of Rebound Designs: “A second chance for well-loved books.” with her funky purses made from books.
• Images 3 and 4: LeBrie Rich, the “Duchess of Felt” of Pen Felt with her “fabulous hand-felted wearables.”
• Images 5 and 6: Linda Johnson, designer and owner of little flower designs
• Image 7: Liz Shaw’s guitar bags from her rock line: “handmade handbags, one of a kind & small line.”


Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!