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Ignite Craft: The Spark of Creativity

On Jan. 14, I spoke at the inaugural Ignite Craft event, organized by Guido Stein of the Common Cod Fiber Guild. Aside from a brief decouppage period, I am not really a crafter, but I gained an affinity for and learned a lot about the local crafting community while reporting this feature story for the Boston Phoenix a couple years back.

So when Guido announced Ignite Craft, I saw not only an opportunity to reprise my amazing Ignite experience from last year, but to revisit the crafting community.

EDIT: Video from my talk is now available!

Here are just the slides from my talk (appended with some captions for the benefit of Slideshare).

The speaker lineup was awesome, and I learned a lot about a range of topics from bookbinding to letterpress to lockpicking to quilting and craft beer. One of the main points of my presentation was that creativity and craft flourish when you bring together people and the things they love, and this event was proof of that.

Here are some of the highlights from the evening which I thought might be of interest to a broader audience:

  • Guido Stein compared his journey into crafting to World of WarCraft. Working with others, he has gained experience and created communities (guilds).
  • SchneiderMike talked about craft beers, noting that the most awesome beers are typically the most scarce but it’s worth the time to find and try them. The appreciation of craft beer takes persistence and patience, as well as an affinity for details — color, scent, texture, temperature and flavor, to name a few.
  • Ann Weaver talked about how she self-published her book of knitwear designs, finding inspiration from Dutch Olympians, Johnny Rotten, Steve McQueen and more. To market the book, she hit the road, talking up her book at every trunk show or craft store she encountered.
  • Sarah Kuhn of UMass Lowell impressed me with her thoughts on hands-on learning. Standard classrooms, she said, are like sensory deprivation chambers that destroy the ability to think. How? Science shows that we think with our hands — the bulk of our cortex is centered on our hands — so optimally, we should learn through objects, with design as inquiry.
  • Will McFarlane of Parts and Crafts talked about his awesome organization — awesome not just because of what they do, but because of the $1,000 grant they received from the Awesome Foundation. McFarlane explained the idea of community-supported education and empowering kids by teaching them to use tools to create things.
  • Schuyler Towne gave a fun and enthusiastic introduction to lockpicking, an activity in which he is a professional competitor. Yes. It’s called locksport. That’s pretty awesome.
  • Gale Zucker previewed her forthcoming book on craft activism, which can assume many forms from yarnbombing to political statements knitted into sweaters to anti-consumerist totes made out of plastic shopping bags.
  • Christina Inge talked about the idea of being “multicraftual,” letting one craft inform another to give deeper meaning to your work. It’s all about being inspired by learning and looking past the medium. I was particularly impressed by her description of quilter Susan Shie, who quite literally weaves stories into her creations.
  • Stacie Dolin, a bookbinder, showed off what happened when you make papercuts of useful tools combined with ’80s song lyrics. The result? Hilarity.
  • Lis Pardi assured everyone that we can be good at everything as long as we are convinced we can do it but willing to admit we know nothing. Information, she emphasized, is the key to making things happen. The motto of the evening? “You can do it, you will do it, and it will turn out OK-ish”
  • Katie Helke talked about Knit for Boston, a nonprofit she founded to take advantage knitters’ busy hands to help give comfort and warmth to those who need it.
  • Alanna Nelson, a quilter, talked about how she challenged herself to carpe diem. In her quilts, she draws inspiration from everything around her, making the most of her surroundings no matter where her travels landed her.

My friend Seanna also wrote a really great recap with her thoughts and notes from the evening.

Thanks, Guido, for organizing an awesome event, and thanks to all the speakers and attendees for making it so much fun! I’m not sure if I’ll be speaking at the next Ignite Craft, but you bet I’ll be in attendance.

2 Responses

  1. Seanna Lea says:

    You did a great job of speaking! I loved the evening and it was so much more motivating than I thought it would be just looking at it on paper.

  2. futuregirl says:

    Seanna pointed me in your direction. :) This sounds like an amazing gathering! I’ll be looking for similar events to attend in San Francisco.

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