Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hello Craft

There is a summit of craft going on in DC next week. It is a collection of crafters, shows, speakers, and a documentary screening. Today I was on the website and I tried to call to get tickets to the screening of Handmade Nation. Somehow I was routed to voice mailbox where they are collecting "handmade stories" for a podcast as part of the event. I decided (and who knows why) that I should write my handmade story. Maybe it's because I've been in a funk lately, or maybe it's because I don't really know what my next goal in life should be, but this is my handmade story I'm submitting....

My handmade story:

My name is Katie and I live a handmade life. God, that sounds like something you say at a crafter’s anonymous meeting. Anyway, a little background: My handmade life… I work full time as a costume craftsperson and theatrical milliner. I make my living creating armor, hats, accessories of dress, puppets, puppet clothes, leg wear, leather goods and painting and dyeing everything from fur pelts to silk stockings. My work has been seen (by my count) in over 70 theatrical productions in 6 cities and 2 countries. I’ve worked in some of the largest and most well respected costume shops in the country, and I make my living solely by making things. I have a 100% handmade income, in my spare time I have an shop, and I make and sell things at indie craft shows and artisan markets in 5 cities and 3 states. By many accounts I have a dream career. A dream life. I am living the crafts dream.

But that’s not really a terribly unique thing. The thing I think many people forget about when they hear things like my income is from completely handmade sources is how difficult that life can be. I work 8 to 10 hours a day at my theatre-day job making beautiful and interesting things, then I come home and make more things. I find some days that my brain is so busy and so creative that I simply cannot think, sleep, or even concentrate on the banalities of life. I’ve spent many days hammering rivets into leather to make armor only to go home and knit baby socks. But again this is not that unique, or even really that interesting.
What I think is worth noting is that I’ve managed to give up almost all the normal and regular things that make modern people happy. I rarely watch television, I don’t love to go shopping in big box stores, I abhor regular fashion magazines. My bookshelves are lined with how-to books, instruction manuals and visual research. I given up many deeply intimate relationships to move from city to city, state to state and follow my dream career. The really interesting thing is: The things that make me interesting are also the things that challenge me. Daily. I find myself almost unable to relate to people who sit in an office and stare at a computer screen all day. I cannot go out on a date with a “regular” guy and tell him what I do for a living without some strange remark about how much I must love Halloween, or renaissance festivals (I don’t really enjoy either). I’ve ditched and left best friends, lovers, roommates, my family, and even a few pet fish.
But here’s the crazy thing, and I want to make this totally clear: I’m not unhappy. I am in fact a mostly happy, joyous person. I’m pretty content with my life, but I do wonder what it might be like to be able to turn off the creative side of my brain and just veg-out on the sofa. I wonder what it might be like to be able to sit on the train and not notice every knitted garment and pattern it in my head. I wonder what my life would have been like if I’d not left one of those cities, or I had followed my boyfriend instead of my career. I wonder how it feels to come home after a day of sitting in front of a computer and sit in front of the television. But then again, I don’t really want to find out what it would feel like to have a normal life. Because then it wouldn’t be my life, it would be everybody’s life. I’d just be living it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This I believe.

I listen to a lot of NPR. Scratch that… I listen to a whole lot of NPR. On NPR they’ve been running a series called “This I Believe”. It is a combination of essays and interviews from famous, and not so famous people about their beliefs. Every time I listen to one, I think to myself..______ this I believe. So I started jotting them down, and here is the current list of my beliefs. I’m sure some of them will change, and I know some will not.

In no particular order:

I believe

·It is better to live comfortably within your means than fabulously beyond them.

·People want to be nicer than they actually are.

·Giving someone a granola bar is the right thing to do when they tell you they are hungry.

·The act of creating is one of the most satisfying acts in the universe.

·Going to the gym feels good, assuming you can make yourself go.

·A favorite pet is the luckiest pet.

·I’ve chosen my career over my life one too many times.

·Red heads have more fun.

·It may not be better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

·Watching more than 1 hour of television a day can make you dumb (even the Learning channel)

·Wooden spoons are the most useful thing in the kitchen.

·Sex is like food for the soul, have too much or the wrong kind, and you’ll feel lousy.

·Skirts are more comfortable than jeans.

·Working on a project that is personally meaningful can change your outlook on life.

·Everything I ever needed to know- I did not learn in kindergarten.

·Chicago has got to be one of the best cities on earth, otherwise why would anyone stay there in the winter?

·Touching your toes is highly satisfying.

·The Christian right is neither.

·Growing up in Florida is like growing up in a foreign country.

·Socks are the best piece of clothing.

·You should move to a city you’ve never visited at least once in your life.

·Sheep are an all-around useful animal.

·Having someone to sleep beside you is very important.

·Birth control is the greatest invention of humankind.

·If we all believe, we can change.

·I’ve over thought myself into a corner more times than I can remember.

·Working in the arts is a lot like herding cats.

·If god wanted me to believe without question, I wouldn’t have been given cognitive thought.

·I should have been more attentive in math class.

·The revolution will be handmade.


What do you believe?

Friday, April 17, 2009

The waiting game....


No word on the Brooklyn show. Or rather, got word- the word is- no word on the Brooklyn show. It seems the crafty world is out in force this summer, and BUST magazine and all their BUSTy ladies are working a little (or a lot) of overtime trying to decide who is doing the show.

I can only imagine how difficult a task it must be to weed thru all those applications to try to figure out who is in, and who is out.

So the question remains: In or Out?

Looks like I've got to wait till Monday for an answer.

In the meanwhile, I've been getting crafty with it. 25 anatomical hearts are almost ready for their stuffing, and 25 buckles are awaiting papergoods and resin.

It's going to be a VERY crafty summer. Pictures WILL be coming soon.

I promise.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009


well, not really.

No sleep till Philly!

Say it with me now, do a little chicken dance, I got in! I got in! I got in! woot. woot. wooot!

Okay, so I got into the Philly Art Star Craft Bazaar. It's my first 2 day, juried craft show. It's also outdoors. I'm starting cutting things out tonight. I have a feeling pincushions will be my popular item, so I'm taking suggestions for new designs. Have a great idea of what I *should* be making? leave a comment.

I still have to wait for 10 more days to find out about the Brooklyn show. If I get into that show- it's gonna be a VERY crafty summer.

I'm super excited.

like I needed to say that.