CHA and the Indies

01 Feb 2009

Okay, then - let's get down to the big question: where did the online, indie craft community fit into this whole CHA thing?

CHA made some effort to create a presence for indie craft at the show: there was an Indie Craft booth where crafters led demo sessions, and CHA invited folks like Faythe Levine of Handmade Nation and Tina Barseghian of CRAFT Magazine to give presentations. CHA also hosted a public contest, where people could submit samples of indie crafting to be displayed at the show.

So, CHA knows we're here. But, as you'll see, there's still a gulf of understanding to be crossed.

That Indie Craft booth is a good place to start. The photo above shows Ed Roth of Stencil 101 giving a demo session there. It was a mostly empty space, with seating for about a dozen people. To Ed's right, you can see a couple glass display cases housing the winning Indie Craft Contest entries (more pics of these are below).

Also in the booth was a large display wall, printed with a CHA Trend Report about Indie Crafters. I'd highly recommend that you read the full text of this report online, but I'll give you some highlights:

As you can see above, Adorn Magazine, which has been out of print for over a year, is cited as one of "our" magazines.

This section talks about the materials we supposedly use. Homeopathy? Aromatherapy? Organic teas?

And who is this "most" that thinks we're reminiscent of hippies?

...And here's a list of "our" books. How much do I love that Ed tagged the display with a postcard for his own book?

Anyway - the report is unfortunately riddled with misconception and outright error (and typos). This is my very favorite excerpt:

"Almost all [indie craft] sites include a tag line like "Not your grandmother's crafts." Some are even more hip by stating, "For those who really do run with scissors." These crafters don't want to be associated with what we consider "normal" arts and crafts."

Wow.

When I first read the report, I was frankly a bit frustrated. I even posted, "Miss the point much?" on Twitter. But after some thought, I realized that getting upset isn't productive.

For one thing, we all know that our community is infinitely more rich and varied than this report portrays. But it's also that very kaleidoscopic nature that makes it challenging to boil us down to a few marketing keywords.

The people who compiled this report may reside outside our community, and perhaps didn't research us too deeply - but they had a hard task. I sure wouldn't want to be tasked with describing our whole vibrant movement in two pages to an audience who isn't all that internet-savvy!

I think that one of the main reasons CHA sees us as this odd little subculture is that they're an organization whose goal is to help make the craft industry money. And in our online community, we're much more about connection than money. Consider this telling statement from the report:

"Experts within the craft industry acknowledge that this movement hasn't been fully embraced due to a lack of awareness. While many of the artists use craft supplies such as paint, glue, embellishments, and beads, a lot of it is recycled and not produced by traditional manufacturers in the craft industry."

In other words, the perception is that we don't buy enough stuff from CHA member companies.

Except, we really do! It's true that we do a lot of reclaiming and recycling, but I think even the most frugal of us has likely bought something from a craft store in the last 30 days. Every recycled-sweater scarf requires a needle and thread. Every recycled paper vase requires glue and varnish.

And what's even more important is that we are tightly networked online. When we buy craft products and like them, we can spread the word to other crafters with dizzying speed and efficiency. But most craft manufacturers haven't quite made this realization yet (as you'll see in an upcoming podcast).

So, we represent huge and untapped potential as an engaged market. But it's clearly up to us to help the craft industry learn what that means.

I'm working on a couple future podcasts to address how we might go about introducing ourselves properly to CHA. So stay tuned. Meantime, I'd love to hear your comments.

Tomorrow, we'll be talking about Paris Hilton as Crafter.

Comments

Great overview Diane!!! Meeting you in person was one of the top highlights for me last week!!

Here is my take. I consider myself an indie crafter and am also active in CHA. Both have opened so many doors for me. But i had to hunt and find those doors, sand them, locate the keys, etc...

We have to think of why we craft. Is it to inspire others? Or to make a living selling our pieces? Once you nail down what you want out of all this, then you hit the resources to help you move that dream forward. My personal goal is to make a living inspiring others while making a living doing it. Through CHA I've connected with book editors, product developers, indie businesses, etc.

I don't let myself gripe too much, instead I put on my miner's hat and try to be part of the change.

I worked for years in the local music scene promoting reggae bands and would get furious at the lack of coverage in the local paper. also for the local art scene. I was so passionate, I ended up getting a job at the paper, volunteering to write stories about the people/bands I felt their staff had over looked. I didn't like what I saw and I became part of the change.

Same with the craft industry. When I attended my first CHA in 2005, I was taken aback too, at the lack of insight to the emerging craft scene, especially the Latino market. So I made it a point to become involved.

If we want to thrive, I say we 9people interested in doing crafts FT) all make it a point to join the professional designers, infiltrate, pitch and teach workshops, off to sit on discussion panels, offer our services, ask for our own little area of the show, etc. Show off what we can do. Learn from the experienced people, plus show them the new wave.

Here is a blog post I did when I came home, it has more specifics:

http://thecraftychica.blogspot.com/2009/01/blog-post.html

On a side note - I do know for a fact the CHA folks really did mean well when they made the indie crafters part of this year's theme. They were really nervous in trying to get it right. Yes, there were some hits and misses on the first time out, but overall, I'm happy they reached out. I am crossing my fingers they keep us on the agenda for future shows. Anything to help artist thrive!

You have to go in there and find your niche. I met an adorable punky artist girl who writes and draws anime diy books, and they got picked up by Michaels. She was swooning!

Look at it the same way when you go to an estate sale, you bypass all the stuff that is not your style and hunt for the treasures!!! I used my house payment to go to my first show. I was so scared, but so many good things came from it!

anyhoo- peace, love, and glitter to you all!!!
Kathy :-)


As one of the 30 indie crafts people who won the opportunity to have my creation presented at the CHA convention in Jan. I feel the contest was an afterthought, a neglected opportunity for the indie winners. There was no on-line publicity about the winners, no mention in the CHA on-line conference materials and if Carmen had not graciously offered to take some images of my piece in the case I would have no clue what anything looked like there. Also we were asked to create printouts which the audience could take away..if my printout was available I guess no one took any as I have heard from not one person since the event...dismal indeed!


I've been called a hippie a few times in my life and I always smirk and shake my head. Really? A hippie? I really enjoyed reading this, good stuff to ponder. I go to craft stores all the time! But I'm not there to buy the kits or the put our idea together and call it your own stuff. Like you said, I'm there for supplies. All things have their place, though.


As one of those odd new "hippie" crafters who gets a lot of her supplies from the side of the road and thrift stores, I agree that the suppliers are missing a HUGE opportunity.

Make me want to buy your items by getting to know more about my INSPIRATION, not just looking at the end result and materials used. I used to work in a Michael's store and would stuff the silk flowers that fell off the stems and got swept up at night in my purse to take home to decorate hats with - now you can buy little packets of flowers in the scrapbooking aisles. But 20 years went by between my hoarding of trash flowers and the marketing of brand new ones... if they want to keep up with us, they need to engage us, not patronize us.

Funny how I never was sure if I was "indie" or not - but if reading Craft magazine and using repurposed materials is part of the definition, I guess I am!


agreed... but typical for the CHA collective. Each year we marvel at how out of touch the marketing group seems to be. Perhaps they should have asked an Indie crafter to write the report... or formed a small indie "Think Tank" to help with their research. Asking one person what they think just won't cut it.

It's not much different than the "Hispanic market" report from 2 years back... which was seemingly not written by a Hispanic... and now 2 years later that market is barely being hit.


interesting because we've seen so much movement & momentum within our own sphere, but it must seem so tiny to a behemoth like CHA. i also think one of our key differences is the fundamental ethic of individuality: indie is technically short for "independent," but I think "individual." to that end, we look for things that support & benefit individual crafters rather than corporations, which might seem threatening to a group like CHA -- but a corporation is made of and serves individuals, and we have many of the same values: self-expression, creativity, quality, connection. we all have crafting at heart.


thanks diane for posting this!

faythe levine told me the the CHA people had a marketing company write the text for that panel. as pointed out so poorly researched - and there is no excuse for some of those typos. it looks to me like that was thrown together by someone's assistant in an afternoon.

that looks like a big crowd for ed roth. when i went to say hi to leah kramer there was no one in her audience.

the "indie craft" area was in the back corner of the show (very easy to miss and i bet most who attended the show never saw it). my theory is that it was probably a way of filling in space. if they had had more vendors (paying the big bucks for booths) you know for sure they would have given that space up for them.

nice try i guess, but it would have been more beneficial for everyone if they had taken the time to get things right. the CHA people should come over to my house and see the drawers and drawers of craft supplies that i purchase from stores like michaels (you know how much i love the mod podge and aleene's tacky glue!!).

what it does all boils down to is business. craft supplies have to be sold. any presence of "indie craft" at a show like CHA is to highlight a potential market. and the "indie craft" scene is also a place where designers (for companies that sell at CHA) look at the get (in some cases probably steal) ideas. a friend is works for a mass market company that shows at CHA and she told me that information from natalie zee drieu's seminar last year "really made the rounds" and appeared in trend reports.

i think it's safe to say that while we consider ourselves a community others see us as a commodity. it's really not that different than high fashion designers getting inspiration from street fashion. we can choose to be either flattered or disgusted.


wow, so enlightening. Thanks for this. Look forward to hearing more!


Amen sister! Who of us doesn't hit the Mill Ends store or JoAnne's on a Reg basis.


It really does sound like someone with zero connection wrote the report (at least the parts you quoted... I haven't read it yet). They should have invited one of the "indie crafters" they included in the booth to contribute to the report.

Okay, next year, we all have OUR OWN Indie Crafting booth so we can show them the what what!


This has got to be one of the most interesting things I've read on the internet in a long time. Thank you for going. Thank you for bringing our perspective there and for sharing their perspective here.

I have often gotten the feeling of a huge disconnect between mainstream crafting companies and those of us doing our own thing out here, and it is even more real than I'd imagined. So fascinating!


I think the title should have been "CHA Stabs Indie Crafters with Over Priced, Poorly Made In China Knife to the Heart," or something to that effect.

I am stunned at how "indie crafters" are perseeved. Even the title has a bit of uninformed nastiness to it. Like "Indie Musicians" who are thought of as slightly off-key and out of touch with the mainstream. To them I say Etsy much lately????


i'm just confused. who are indie crafters? non-corp people who make stuff to sell? or just people who make stuff? where are all these hippies and how come i don't know any of them? i don't make things to sell, so obviously i'm not a corp-crafter, but i don't make jewelry out of bottle caps, nor do i run with my grandma's scissors or whatever it was, so maybe i am not a crafter at all, indie or otherwise. was there a booth for "one-hand clapping" crafters like me? if a non-selling crafter falls in the woods, does she make sound?

i'm optimistic that paris hilton will have some answers for me.

mara
kleiosbelly.wordpress.com


Kathy, Thanks for your insight. I appreciate the frustration expressed in the original post. I do agree strongly that if you are not happy with the way indie businesses are being portrayed, then it's incumbant upon you (all of us who are interested parties) to suggest ways to make it better. You can't just stand by on the sidelines being a critic.

Aside from Adorn (and even that magazine made a mark), the businesses listed under "indie craft websites" are some that have reached out and made waves in the community. Certainly it would be tough to create an all-inclusive list. I think that consulting some of these folks for THEIR input would've been more effective.


what the what? did CHA just fall off the organic commune's turnip truck? (no offense to organic commune turnip farmers)


EMULATION v. CREATION
The Indie craft movement and the CHA and never (perhaps never) the two shall meet. The very nature of indie crafting is in opposition with CHA and the "scrapper" thing. Indie crafters are about community, recycling, using what's already at hand and originality. Sure we go to the craft stores et. al. for supplies, but we also will go to art stores. Indie crafters start with raw materials and create their own.

On the other side or the CHA people, while yes, there is creativity and originality, it's all about product. It's all about kits and tutorials and copying a look that a hired designer puts together. Pre-made, pre-packaged, pre-determined results. Scrappers, CHA type followers and the like emulate - they don't create.

CO-OPTING
The bridge between the two communities I see is this, the indie crafters come up with some wonderful ideas -- the CHA people see the idea, market and mass produce the kits for consumption by the status quo. I.E. "Generation T" and now the latest and greatest "art journaling" (come one - do we really need tutorials on how to journal? Isn't that missing the point?) The new hot up and coming co-opted thing is record album memory books/journals. Indie crafters have been using vinyl albums and covers for years -- the scrapbooking industry is now cashing in on making pre-made "blank" vinyl album covered - chipboard books.

They may have made a half-hearted attempt and "outreach" to the indie community at CHA -- making it seem that they don't know a thing about the indie movement, but believe me, they know a lot more than they let on. Because the indie craft movement is the well in which they draw on for the next best selling product, trend and all the expensive pre-packaged goodies that go with it.


That's so funny, Sister Diane, I was reading this and thinking about how to define the Indie Crafting community and the very first word that came to mind was 'connection' and then I scrolled down and it was the next thing you'd written.

So clearly you and I are on the same page, the CHA ... yeah maybe not so much.

Where was Ravelry on that list? The biggest thing to hit the online knitting community in the last couple of years and it's not mentioned. Is it too mainstream to be considered 'indie'? Or have they just not heard of it?

Where was the huge importance of Japanese crafting books and the 'cute' aesthetic? Where was the growth of adult plushies? (OK, that just sounds a little wrong!) There's not a single mention of podcasting, which I'd say was huge in the online 'indie' crafting community and very in line with our DIY attitudes. Oh, and where were all the damn skulls?

And MySpace as a crafting community? Er, really? No one I read blogs on MySpace. OK, admittedly I hate MySpace but afaik, it's just not a big crafter's place. IME, most craft bloggers either have their own sites or are using Blogger or Wordpress.


Diane, this is incredibly insightful and well-put. Come to think of it, some of those company sales reps did look at you like you were an alien when you inquired about recording them for a podcast. What's that? Does that mean you live in a pod? Anyway, I suspect that someone (intern?) was tasked with putting together the signage and newsletter for that indie craft area, as it seem so ill-conceived and tossed off. Then again, maybe that's how the mainstream craft industry regards us. If they only knew how much coin I drop at Michael's and Joann's.


I am excited that this topic which is so dear to my heart from all angles is being brought up for discussion on Sister Diane's wonderful site. I'm a proud Southern California Indie Crafter and an even prouder CHA member. This was the third expo that I had attended and I went in the category of Professional Crafter but also went as a burgeoning Designer and Retailer because I also sell supplies online. So I was so thrilled to learn that there was finally going to be an Indie presence at the show. Thank God - it's one thing that had bugged me the previous years. And on top of that here was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have all the Rock Stars of the Indie Craft Movement in one place at one time. How cool is that?! But every time I walked by the area was empty. And I was there all four days. But what I realized is that the Indie Crafters were invited to introduce them as a powerful growing vibrant market with fresh new designs to the Retailers and Manufacturers and not to celebrate the Indie Craft Movement per se. And that's ok!!!! Think about it - those manufacturers want to make what people want to buy. I spend thousands at Michael's and Joanne's every year and it frustrates me to no end when all I can find is pompoms and tired leather lacing. Where is the freshness? Where are the new ideas and motifs? You'd be surprised to see how many of the booths at CHA are manned by tired looking older gentlemen selling yarns and hooked rug patterns featuring windmills. BUT that's what is so beautiful about it all - these manufacturers want new ideas and here is the perfect opportunity for everyone in the crafting community to step up and tell the big manufacturers what it is that we want to buy!!! Or else step up and become our own manufacturers selling our own supplies and tools and designs! That's exactly what happened in the 1950's-1960's when the Studio Arts Movement happened. Artists reclaimed techniques and tools which up to then had only ever been used by big industries. This is such a wonderful opportunity for big manufacturers and individual artisans to have an open dialog about what is wanted and what is needed. And it's not just "Crafters" coming together to talk now. I love how we're seeing more and more Fine Artists and Fine Craftsmen, Designers, Artisans and Crafters dropping those labels to talk openly about the nature of creativity itself and how we each approach it uniquely. It's a beautiful thing and so exciting to be the the Arts right now.

But back to the contest, I was disappointed as a crafter in implementation of the contest but that seems to have been a miscalculation on the part of the marketing company handling the exhibit. They really should celebrated those artists all of whom were so excited to be chosen and then were so let down. It's a big deal to win a contest - there should have been prizes. How cool would it have been to have awarded those winners with bags of supplies from those self-same manufacturers. It was just a big goof that could have so easily been avoided.

And by the way, Mike Hartnett who posted earlier is himself a Rock Star in the creative world. I heard him speak that Sunday at CHA about turning ideas into products and he truly is an inspiring generous soul who wants everyone to aspire to greatness. We should all take him up on his kind kind offer to put our ideas in front of the manufacturers. That is like getting the golden ticket into Willie Wonka's factory. It really is.

And thanks, Diane, I love your podcasts!!!


Yikes - please let me clarify that when I said "You’d be surprised to see how many of the booths at CHA are manned by tired looking older gentlemen selling yarns and hooked rug patterns featuring windmills" I meant to say "You'd be surprised to see that there are SOME booths manned by tired looking older gentlemen selling yarns and hooked rug patterns featuring windmills". There must have been at least 800? vendors there, most of whom were selling really cool wonderful modern items. The tired gentlemen are but a small portion. :)


I find this fascinating. All of it. The truth is, we're talking about a new movement of crafters that isn't defined by an age group or an aesthetic or even a single mantra beyond their desire to create unique and original things. These are the same folks who have from the dawn of crafting, been setting the trends and forging new creative pathways and testing the boundaries. So call us Hippies or Beatniks or Tramps or Gypsies or Avant Garde or punk...whatever label makes you feel good...but realize that in order to reach beyond the kit buying crowd, you need to offer them products that allow them room for their own creativity. I consider myself to be an Indie Crafter, I consider a lot of folks far older and younger than myself to be too, it's really not so easy to categorize or pigeon hole. It's an attitude and even that attitude has abundant variety.

I know we talked and I think it's good that CHA is trying to reach out to what it sees as a new audience. I just think talking about them as if they're exotic animals in a zoo is probably not the best outreach! If the craft industry wants to keep selling product, they have to always be cultivating avenues of connection with the crafter. I've blogged this before, it's not about skulls and tattoos and pin up girls, it's about unique, interesting, cutting edge materials and tools for creativity.

Great blog post, great topic and hopefully an opening to some very useful discussion.

Cheers,
Madge


One more thing, if it is not for you, no worries - just keep creating!!

I have many artist friends who are not into CHA and still make a living from their work, and enjoy every second of it and are very successful!

it is all about doing what you love and what you need to do to keep it going!

OK, peace out!!
Kathy :-)


I have not read the report past the first couple of paragraphs because it's STORMING here and my printout got soaked and now I'm going to print it again.

Let's talk about the tone of the report, though. The tone is clear to me. For some reason, indie crafters are interlopers. That's what it sounds like, the way it's written. Indie crafters are not serious, they aren't schooled in or interested in the thread of craft history or heritage, and they don't belong among 'normal' crafters. Now, that's my kneejerk reaction, and even I can recognize that it's a bit simplistic. We all know how this attitude affects us, so I won't belabor the point any further.

But I think, after years of being on the 'outside' in terms of being a member of one fringe group or another, I recognize how the money people work and I think I can imagine what can happen in such instances. What happens is that a few of us, in some way or another, will make a splash of such size and magnitude that someone in corporate will want to take it and run with it, giving the artist/crafter subsidy and markeing that will gain her/him/them enough attention that it becomes worthwhile for others to invest in their own indie crafter(s) and pretty soon we will no longer be indie, we'll be subsidized. We'll be a force, we'll have 'respect' and it will become cool for people to know about us, collect us, wear us or be like us. And then we'll lose our purpose and our edge and we will be homogenized. that's what can and often does happen. Because what's good can't help but be recognized eventually, and indie crafters are good because they care, they don't try to copy other people or do the same things, they don't look at something and see only its marketed use or beauty, and from that kind of vision and passion comes real innovation. But it's sad that it comes with co-opting.

So in a way, I'm glad they don't 'get it' yet, but what bothers me is that if they don't get it, they should just shut up. This patronizing attitude and the sloppiness of the research and the carelessness of the writing is an insult on top of the fact that they won't be able to 'get it' until it benefits the pocketbook!

I echo a lot of what others have been saying, and that's that, we spend plenty of our hard-earned, non-subsidiezed, incomes on product with which to create new art, new clothing, new jewelry, new furniture, and if we disappeared, it would make a huge dent. The beauty of what we do is that many of our works are one-of-a-kind, inventive, and exciting in their newness, and that's something that's valuable beyond marketing considerations.

In many instances, I feel that people have to settle for things too often. They settle for the same things because that's what the market will bear. I try not to shop as much as Michael's or Joann's, and instead support independent online suppliers, and it's more expensive and sometimes it's not possible or practical with regard to time. But if I can avoid settling on things, I try to sacrifice for something better. I'm glad CHA exists, I just wish it were with open minds.


Thanks for tweeting about the comments here! Good to come back and read 'em!


This was so edgy and fun to read Diane, you should be angry more often! ;-) And considering that they say it themselves; "hasn’t been fully embraced due to a lack of awareness" - they are not aware of the potential obviously! ;-)

Love the Paris Hilton report too; can a famous face sell anything? Will crafters embrace her products becuase she is she or is it fashion girls start that will start crafting all of a sudden? Hmm... Lots of fun to ponder. Hehe.


I, also, had one of the winning entries for the showcase. I was told by an attendee (who took some photos for me) that they didn't even have the handouts we were asked to send with our entries available in a good spot.
So, I think we NEED someone to take this showcase by the horn and make it better!!!
Any help you need from me, just email.....
THANKS for this report!


Thank you so much for your article and your subsequent podcast interviews. I would consider myself a indie crafter, just doing what I am interested in, but I find myself so inspired by all of you more serious crafters. I find inspiration in the books, designs, and projects that all of you work towards so that you can make this your life work. For me, I find that crafting offers me a way to relax (away from the computer - which is a major tool for my work). I have discovered that crafting provides a way to "slow down" my life and to disconnect from so much that is electronic around us. On the other hand... I am usually listening to your (or someone else's) podcast while I do it. Keep up your good work. I see you as one of the voices that represents the craft community.


The funny thing is, the so-called hippie crafts were embraced by the commercial craft companies- it is probably where some of them started. For example, there were tons of books and kits for macrame, tie-dye, whatever- now all available on Ebay :-)


I post over at a mainstream crafting board from one of the big manufacturers that was at CHA. If you saw Hannah Montana & SpongeBob you know what I am talking about. :)

In the last week all I heard about was CHA. Great, couldn't wait to see what they had until I heard them mention about us Indie Crafters like we were all crafting in a commune. Seriously. I thought the age of racism & judgement was over.

If I sound harsh it was harsh. Made me so mad that because I am a proud Indie Crafter but I have spent literally thousands of dollars on their products. I am one of the long time posters at not one but two of their boards.

Honestly, the way they spoke the only reason they invited indie crafters was to see how big of a threat we were to them profit wise.

Yes, it was shocking & hurtful. I then come over tonight & realized it was just not me who felt this way.

Made me feel a lot better. I did not rant at the board. I am seriously annoyed, lol.

Thank you for the informative post. It was really good. It is all about profit. My DH said the other day that some of these companies are getting too greedy.


very interesting observations!


Diane, you really 'hit the nail on it's head' (that's a Dutch expression, but I'm sure you'll understand). The case with Indie crafting, Bohemian writers, underground artists and all those 'hippies' is that they are always ahead of their time. And saying this out loud and proud: 'good things take time, a lot of time (and hard work)!'

PS.: Paris Hilton as Crafter?
PPS: Just a question I'm wondering about, is there a connection between Craft: magazine and Craft:Stylish?

xoxo


Did they seriously just connect me as an indie crafter to HOMEOPATHY! That actually rather infuriates me, I make fun jewelry for people I don't tell them water will cure their cancer.


Oh *rolling* my eyes over here! My favorite are the clear typos on the website list: Idie Craft Documentary? Croq Zone? Adorn? RIP...Really? Poor research. I'm interested to read the rest of the report when I get a chance.

"These crafters don’t want to be associated with what we consider “normal” arts and crafts." - I love this quote. I want to know who the almighty "we" is that gets to decide what is "normal" arts and crafts. So our crafts aren't normal? What a statement! Oh my.


I publish Creative Leisure News, a business newsletter reporting on the art/craft business. It's published twice a month at my website, www.clnonline.com. This recent trade show was my 30th. (The Craft & Hobby Association is the result of a merger between two older associations.)

I sympathize with the CHA staff and the apparent mistakes they made at the show regarding indie crafters. I have tried to write about the indie movement, but it's difficult to get a handle on it, like catching a cloud. Many facets of the industry feel the same way. We want to help make your work more creative and satisfying, but we don't know how.

So, if you would like to speak to the retailers, manufacturers, importers, designers, etc., I'll be happy to publish your thoughts. I publish an issue twice a month, have unlimited space, and don't accept advertising, so I'm not concerned if someone doesn't like something I publish. Basically I want to inform my subscribers and give them thought-provoking ideas.

Feel free to email me. mike@clnonline.com

P.S. There may be a nightmare looming on the horizon for any of you who sell your creations. Portions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act are to go into effect Feb. 10. If you sell anything that would be used by kids or considered a toy, the law requires a lot of expensive testing. The intent of the law was to stop lead in toys, but the law has far, far reaching implications for crafters who sell their creations. The association, CHA, is working with other trade groups to lobby Washington for an intelligent, common-sense implementation of the law.


Diane, thanks so much for your reporting on CHA---I feel like I'm learning just a ton---Generally your podcast and blog is terribly informative and entertaining anyway, but I really really appreciate how readily you go outside what one might call the "indie craft" comfort zone and ask the deeper questions.

I'm also finding others' reactions here to the CHA's relative cluelessness quite interesting. I have often been struck in "indie" craft publications and blogs by a equally deep cluelessness about the (social) history of craft; and then of course there is that often repeated rhetoric about how different it all is, the whole "not your grandma's" and "young and hip" thang---Ok, so a lot of that is marketing anyhow, but now I'm thinking, huh, what is the CHA doing but taking (some of) what is out there at face value? Some voices out there have insisted on and and prided themselves on "difference" and the CHA is picking up on that. And to be a bit more specific much of this making of distinctions has to do with distancing onself from other groups of people, people whom "we" don't want to be associated with---conservative old ladies? Stodgy and not really creative middleage, middleclass suburban women who >>>shudder<<< scrapbook? Kind of a bit weird to see that people who've been looked down at are doing their own looking down in return?

I honestly don't mean to be all nasty and cynical about this---I can see why some of your readers had their feelings hurt and I certainly don't want to add to that---just want to say along with all the beauty and creativity and support that is out there, there are less shiney and innocent impulses. It's really valuable to get a broader perspective.


omg. i'm late to another party. a lot of this stuff just bugs the crap out of me. If I weren't about to end my lunch, I would have plenty to say, I tell you what!

can I come back later?

okay.

p.s. I'll try to make my self-righteous indignation sound fun.


Did they seriously just connect me as an indie crafter to HOMEOPATHY! That actually rather infuriates me, I make fun jewelry for people I don't tell them water will cure their cancer.


Diane, you really 'hit the nail on it's head' (that's a Dutch expression, but I'm sure you'll understand). The case with Indie crafting, Bohemian writers, underground artists and all those 'hippies' is that they are always ahead of their time. And saying this out loud and proud: 'good things take time, a lot of time (and hard work)!'

PS.: Paris Hilton as Crafter?
PPS: Just a question I'm wondering about, is there a connection between Craft: magazine and Craft:Stylish?

xoxo


I've been called a hippie a few times in my life and I always smirk and shake my head. Really? A hippie? I really enjoyed reading this, good stuff to ponder. I go to craft stores all the time! But I'm not there to buy the kits or the put our idea together and call it your own stuff. Like you said, I'm there for supplies. All things have their place, though.


wow, so enlightening. Thanks for this. Look forward to hearing more!


It really does sound like someone with zero connection wrote the report (at least the parts you quoted... I haven't read it yet). They should have invited one of the "indie crafters" they included in the booth to contribute to the report.

Okay, next year, we all have OUR OWN Indie Crafting booth so we can show them the what what!


This has got to be one of the most interesting things I've read on the internet in a long time. Thank you for going. Thank you for bringing our perspective there and for sharing their perspective here.

I have often gotten the feeling of a huge disconnect between mainstream crafting companies and those of us doing our own thing out here, and it is even more real than I'd imagined. So fascinating!


I think the title should have been "CHA Stabs Indie Crafters with Over Priced, Poorly Made In China Knife to the Heart," or something to that effect.

I am stunned at how "indie crafters" are perseeved. Even the title has a bit of uninformed nastiness to it. Like "Indie Musicians" who are thought of as slightly off-key and out of touch with the mainstream. To them I say Etsy much lately????


i'm just confused. who are indie crafters? non-corp people who make stuff to sell? or just people who make stuff? where are all these hippies and how come i don't know any of them? i don't make things to sell, so obviously i'm not a corp-crafter, but i don't make jewelry out of bottle caps, nor do i run with my grandma's scissors or whatever it was, so maybe i am not a crafter at all, indie or otherwise. was there a booth for "one-hand clapping" crafters like me? if a non-selling crafter falls in the woods, does she make sound?

i'm optimistic that paris hilton will have some answers for me.

mara
kleiosbelly.wordpress.com


very interesting observations!


Diane, this is incredibly insightful and well-put. Come to think of it, some of those company sales reps did look at you like you were an alien when you inquired about recording them for a podcast. What's that? Does that mean you live in a pod? Anyway, I suspect that someone (intern?) was tasked with putting together the signage and newsletter for that indie craft area, as it seem so ill-conceived and tossed off. Then again, maybe that's how the mainstream craft industry regards us. If they only knew how much coin I drop at Michael's and Joann's.


Oh *rolling* my eyes over here! My favorite are the clear typos on the website list: Idie Craft Documentary? Croq Zone? Adorn? RIP...Really? Poor research. I'm interested to read the rest of the report when I get a chance.

"These crafters don’t want to be associated with what we consider “normal” arts and crafts." - I love this quote. I want to know who the almighty "we" is that gets to decide what is "normal" arts and crafts. So our crafts aren't normal? What a statement! Oh my.


I publish Creative Leisure News, a business newsletter reporting on the art/craft business. It's published twice a month at my website, www.clnonline.com. This recent trade show was my 30th. (The Craft & Hobby Association is the result of a merger between two older associations.)

I sympathize with the CHA staff and the apparent mistakes they made at the show regarding indie crafters. I have tried to write about the indie movement, but it's difficult to get a handle on it, like catching a cloud. Many facets of the industry feel the same way. We want to help make your work more creative and satisfying, but we don't know how.

So, if you would like to speak to the retailers, manufacturers, importers, designers, etc., I'll be happy to publish your thoughts. I publish an issue twice a month, have unlimited space, and don't accept advertising, so I'm not concerned if someone doesn't like something I publish. Basically I want to inform my subscribers and give them thought-provoking ideas.

Feel free to email me. mike@clnonline.com

P.S. There may be a nightmare looming on the horizon for any of you who sell your creations. Portions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act are to go into effect Feb. 10. If you sell anything that would be used by kids or considered a toy, the law requires a lot of expensive testing. The intent of the law was to stop lead in toys, but the law has far, far reaching implications for crafters who sell their creations. The association, CHA, is working with other trade groups to lobby Washington for an intelligent, common-sense implementation of the law.


The funny thing is, the so-called hippie crafts were embraced by the commercial craft companies- it is probably where some of them started. For example, there were tons of books and kits for macrame, tie-dye, whatever- now all available on Ebay :-)


I post over at a mainstream crafting board from one of the big manufacturers that was at CHA. If you saw Hannah Montana & SpongeBob you know what I am talking about. :)

In the last week all I heard about was CHA. Great, couldn't wait to see what they had until I heard them mention about us Indie Crafters like we were all crafting in a commune. Seriously. I thought the age of racism & judgement was over.

If I sound harsh it was harsh. Made me so mad that because I am a proud Indie Crafter but I have spent literally thousands of dollars on their products. I am one of the long time posters at not one but two of their boards.

Honestly, the way they spoke the only reason they invited indie crafters was to see how big of a threat we were to them profit wise.

Yes, it was shocking & hurtful. I then come over tonight & realized it was just not me who felt this way.

Made me feel a lot better. I did not rant at the board. I am seriously annoyed, lol.

Thank you for the informative post. It was really good. It is all about profit. My DH said the other day that some of these companies are getting too greedy.


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