I arrived at the Brooklyn church where Craft Camp was held early on Saturday morning. The subways were running weirdly, as usual, but even those of us who straggled in at the last minute were welcomed warmly for a packed day of making stuff.
Craft Camp consists of four 90-minute classes taught by a wide range of awesome crafters, interspersed with food, instant-gratification DIY booths, and much Instagramming. By the end of the day, you leave with things like…
1. Papercut art.
One of the many classes Craft Camp attendees could sign up for was taught by Julie Schneider of Your Secret Admiral. Papercut art is one of those crafts that looks wicked impressive when it’s done but isn’t at all difficult (or expensive) to execute.
You can most likely do it yourself with things you already have in your house.
All that’s required is a frame, an X-Acto knife, two pieces of card stock in contrasting colors, a pencil, and a piece of scrap paper and tape if you want something to sketch your design on beforehand.
Simply trace the width of the frame on the scrap paper, then draw or write whatever you want (it’s important to make sure the shapes are connected and not TOO intricate, or you’re in for a world of pain during the cutting process.
Tape the scrap paper over one of the pieces of cardstock; this will be the top color, and you’ll save the other so that it peeks through underneath. Carefully use the X-Acto over a self-healing mat to cut out your shapes. When you’re done, affix the second piece of cardstock underneath the first.
Pop it in the frame and force everyone around you to admire your handiwork.
For an added challenge, start to play around with negative space and connecting different shapes.
Here is how to use your newfound papercut skillz to make adorable Valentines out of doilies.
2. Felted sloths.
Nguyen Le taught needle-felting, which can a) draw blood and b) result in life-endingly cute projects like this lil’ guy.
In her opening speech, Craft Camp founder and all-around DIY powerhouse Brett Bara recounted the backstory of the church where the event took place. After remaining open for over a hundred years, the Greenpoint congregation dwindled to around 35 members and was on the brink of closing when it started to rent out space to artists and musicians. That revenue and community spirit helped keep the church open, and resulted in “a second life for creative, entrepreneurial small businesses.”
Because of that, Bara added, “the restrooms are, um, extremely vintage.” The entire crowd laughed because everyone knew what that meant in Etsy-speak.
6. Sequined bracelets.
As taught by Jessica Marquez of Miniature Rhino.
Terraria? That sounds weird. Either way, creating an entire self-sustaining naturescape in a candy dish makes you feel a whole lot like God.
Gönül Yetim, who taught this class, is a former attorney-turned-terrarium-seller, which is possibly the most delightful narrative of all time.
8. Lady power.
Crafting is totally for everyone, but this event happened to attract four dudes in a crowd of around a hundred attendees. NOT MAD.
9. Extremely full stomachs.
The almost-too-cute-to-eat-jk-all-food-should-be-immediately-devoured meal was catered by local Brooklyn chef Lisa Leonard-Lee.
10. Nail art.
As (very patiently) demonstrated by Jessica Washick of U Don’t Need a Man, U Need a Manicure.
I Spy DIY’s Jenni Radosevich was the keynote speaker.
“The process of telling my parents I was going to leave my full-time job,” she said of her departure from InStyle magazine, “with a 401k, to be a blogger, which I still don’t think they understand…let’s just say it was a difficult one.” Today, though Radosevich straddles the line between the fashion and DIY worlds deftly, translating trends she sees in the streets and on the runway into her own inexpensive and accessible projects.
“It’s crafting,” she said, smiling, of DIY’s relatively recent surge in mainstream popularity. “It’s basically been around forever, but slap an acronym on something and it’s the hot new thing.” She’s come a long way from the six-year-old who, she said, once tie-dyed all the sheets in her parents’ house when her mother wasn’t looking.
12. Chain hair ties.
Jenni demonstrated how to whip these guys up in no time flat with nothing but a hair tie and the chain links from an old piece of jewelry or craft store.
14. Sweet tunes.
Because what self-respecting day of crafting is complete without a dedicated DJ?
15. Etched glassware.
Michelle Edgemont showed how easy this seemingly daunting project is; all you do is paint your glass with a special etching cream, covering strategic spots with tape or stickers, and rinse it off. Find more complete directions here.
It’s a calm, relaxing day but it’s also an opportunity to connect with likeminded folks from as close as down the street and as far as North Carolina. When I first attended Craft Camp last year, I didn’t know a single person, but everyone was so kind and open that I felt immediately included. And this time around, I recognized probably ten familiar faces, and saw even more friendships start to take root around me. New York City (and, of course, the internet) can feel so impossibly big and fast-paced that the chance to sit down and just make is a real gift. That spirit is going to become an even more permanent fixture in the crafting world now that Bara and her team have opened Brooklyn Craft Company, a brick-and-mortar space where these kinds of classes and events can happen year-round.
“Is sewing what you do for a living?” one woman at my table asked another at the beginning of the day. We’d all introduced ourselves after much-needed coffee and doughnuts.
“No,” the other responded. “But it’s what I do to live.”