Community: Seeing Crafty Friends IRL at Summit of Awesome

Last week(ish) I went to the Summit of Awesome, a conference about crafting and the business of crafting that was held in Portland by Hello Craft. I was there for Day 2, and I spent my entire day in the Make Something Awesome area, making awesome stuff and getting in on the craft workshops. I know, as a craft business blogger, I really should have been in the business sessions, but as a compulsive maker, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make stuff for a whole day.

Here’s Talley Sue of Schweet Schtuff (sorry no link) embroidering a Sublime Stitching dachsund pattern, while I am sewing my upholstery sample backpack. Photo lifted from Hello Craft.

Sister Diane of Craftypod wrote a fabulous article on what it felt like to be at Summit of Awesome. I love this:

In the online craft community, we’re abundant in many things – connection, conversation, inspiration. Our only real scarcity is face-time… And even in a city with insanely abundant resources like Portland, so many events seem to be centered more around selling crafts than making them – or discussing them, or learning from each other, or hanging out.

The last sentence made me smile because I met Sister Diane back when she ran Church of Craft Portland, a for-crafting party held once a month. Those were good times. Getting together and crafting together is sooo much better than having an online-only relationship. I mean, I love the internets, but I love hanging out with real peeps even more.

Debbie helps us screenprint our Summit of Awesome t-shirts

Summit of Awesome Takeaways

My award-winning craft throwdown project: theme: Dinosaurs (Land of the Lost); material: felted sweaters. The Hello Crafters donated it to this needy waiter at Kennedy School. Photo by cernest.

I took away a lot of crafts (remember, I was making stuff for an entire day): screenprinted shirts, a beaded necklace and earrings from Susan Beal‘s jewelry workshop, a Mighty Ugly doll from Kim Werker’s Mighty Ugly workshop, an upholstery sample backpack I hand-sewed on my own at the Make Something Awesome table, three hilarious craftacular creations from the Crafty Throwdown (and one book and award badge from winning a round with my Dinosaur banner), and some goodies from the crafty white elephant party.

The friendships I made were even more memorable than all the swag I scored. (I stole this pic from Kim Werker.)

Hanging out with people who “get” what I do and love to do is so nice! Usually when I’m in mixed company, I don’t talk about what I do because it’s just so awkward to watch people try to comprehend crafting and blogging for love (and money). When you find like-minded crafty people, it’s such a relief to talk to them and just hang out, knowing they’ll get why you’re sewing upholstery samples into a backpack.

Heidi and Vanessa work on plush fortune cookies

What I Missed:

A lot. I was only there for a day, and there were so many things going on, I missed most of what was going on the day I was there. I really wish I could have been there for the whole event! Next year, I will be (and hopefully you will be too!)

Highlights for me (besides crafting all day):

  • meeting Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane (also a longtime online friend from way back in the day) and hearing her talk about her business
  • listening to craftnote speakers Pat and Aaron of Buy Olympia (shucks, I didn’t even KNOW they were in Portland now) – funny, highly interesting history of their business
  • following Kim Werker around like a puppy
  • competing against other star crafters in the crafty throwdown (15 minutes is NOT a long time to put together a project, you guys!)
  • Amanda Siska‘s zombie headband (I don’t know if there’s a photo of that anywhere, but it was sheer genius)
  • being at Kennedy School, a dream venue for this event. Seriously amazing.
  • hanging out with local crafters I know, but don’t get to hang out with often enough (including doing the crafty throwdown at the same table as Leethal)
  • listening to the backstories of Mighty Ugly figures by their creators (specifically Vanessa‘s creation: Blaine)

You can be part of the community too:

Upcoming Conference: This was such a great experience. I highly recommend participation in the Summit of Awesome, or a similar gathering of like crafty minds. Here’s an upcoming opportunity: Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs happening August 13-15 in Seattle. Be there!

Become a Member: Also, I became a member of Hello Craft (a craft-business trade association), and you should too! They did such an amazing job on the SOA, and I have the utmost belief that they could turn into a huge asset for us in the craft community with a little more support (they are already an asset, by the way… but they have HUGE potential as a galvanizing force for us “indie crafters.”)

Additional Resources:

About Croq

CROQ Zine is a print zine devoted to hip crafting and indie business. Our first issue went to print in Summer 2005.
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