Monday, September 27, 2010

A Social Experiment - Chicago Craft Social

One of the things I love about owning Greyhound Threads is that it pushes me beyond my current creative comfort zone!  I love to craft and try new things, and the shop allows me to experiment with crafts that I never would have thought of before simply due to my desire for variety and differentiation.  I started the shop focused solely on coats.  Slowly, I am evolving our product lines, and I love taking on projects that push me to develop new skills and non-wearable products (though wearable items are still a huge focus).  As I previously said, one of the HUGE benefits of living so close to a big city is that there is a massive talent pool of crafters and artists in the local area to connect with and learn from.  A great event for just that is the Chicago Craft Social, which I attended with my crafting friend over at Pomely Grove  (check out her blog, too!) this past Friday!

So, what is the Chicago Craft Social?
Oh, my friends!  This event is such an amazing opportunity to not only meet fellow crafters and artisans, but also to learn many different crafting techniques!  The goal of the organizer (another Amanda!) is to create a place where you can learn a new craft, meet like-minded crafters, or just hang out (though there were so many awesome crafts, who had time to just sit and chat?!).  You can bring your own projects, but, again, we didn't have any time at all to work on our own stuff when there were 20 different projects we could choose from to learn. 

How did the project tables work?
Projects are listed on the Craft Social blog a few days before the event, a guide is provided when you arrive so you can navigate the tables, and the advice is given to rank your projects so you can make sure you get to your favorites first.  There definitely were popular ones that filled up fast, but we still managed to learn everything we wanted to- the variety of supplies (like fabric) were dwindling, so we didn't have all the pretty colors to choose from for some projects, but we were still able to complete the projects.  Seating is limited at each table, but you just rotate around at your leisure, and everyone was great about making room at crowded tables!  Most projects don't require that you bring anything- they provide everything- but they did let us know some things in advance that we could bring if we really wanted to customize our craft.  Professional crafters, every-day crafters, and craft businesses run the craft tables to teach the eager their particular craft offering.  There even are craft company-sponsored tables (like Mod Podge), and some companies even donate for the goody bag that everyone gets.  Oh, yes! The goody bag!

What?!  A GOODY BAG?!
Oh, yes, my friends- a goody bag!  I actually did some research on the goody bag before signing up for the Craft Social, just to see if the goody bags were all that fantastic (I wasn't picturing anything glamorous).  I couldn't find any reviews, so I wanted to make it known to everyone in webland that the goody bags were awesome!  Everyone received a pair of Westcott Titanium-bonded Non-Stick scissors (that's right- tape and glue won't stick to these!).  They sound like the ultimate crafting scissors- I'll have to do a review of them once I've broken them out for a project.  We also received a 2 fl. oz. bottle of Mod Podge, a coupon for, a sample of their ultrafine art glitter, and a pencil from Evanston Print & Paper Shop (which I'll mention later)!

In addition to the goody bag, you get a raffle ticket when you go into the event, and you can select one of multiple items that you would like to try to win.  Throughout the night, they draw names out of the bag next to the corresponding item & you can win great prizes!

AND (yep, I'm not done with the freebies yet!), there were amazing snacks provided!  I'm talking cheesecake bites, brownies with marshmallow topping, cookies, fruit trays, crackers & hummus, a veggie tray, and more!  Coffee and tea were also provided.

Did it cost anything to attend?
Yes- admission was $25!  The event has limited availability, and based on what I learned at the event, it was well-worth every penny (especially with the added bonus of all supplies provided, the awesome goody bag and free snacks!).  I should probably also mention here that no kids under 18 are admitted to the event.  The site says that with scissors everywhere, it's no place for small children, and I quite agree!

So, what crafts did you learn?
My friend, Mel from Pomely Grove, and I made our way around four different craft stations over the course of the three hour event.

The first table we went to was the collograph print table sponsored and run by Jessica Taylor, designer of FIORI FALSI.  This technique for print-making was phenomenal- definitely expect some newly inspired items in the shop over the next couple of weeks!  Essentially, Jessica taught us a method of collograph print making that uses common, every day objects around your house (cardboard, some sort of material for creating texture, a wooden spoon, cloth and oil paints) to transfer a shape and texture of your choosing onto fabric.  I created a greyhound "stamp" of sorts that I then covered with unbleached muslin & pressed with the wooden spoon to transfer the image:

After collographing, we moved on to the bird's nest table where we learned how to make the increasingly popular bird's nest pendant, ring, and earrings using beads and wire.  You can see below that I chose to make two pendants- one is silver wire with taupe, egg-shaped beads, and the other is a lime green with yellow and brown wooden beads.

The third table we went to taught us a variation of fabric flowers.  Using just strips of fabric and a running stitch, I created this cute little flower that I will eventually use to create a brooch:

And, lastly, we were able to squeeze in a quick fabric-scraps headband at a table sponsored and run by Earth Cadets (a Richmond, VA native- it was so exciting to meet her & chat a bit about home!).

In all, we had such a fabulous time learning our new crafts and meeting some of the local crafters (since it was a social-focused event, we actually were able to spend some time talking to them vs. the Renegade Craft Fair which was selling-focuses).  We can't wait for the next Chicago Craft Social!


  1. This was a ton of fun! Definitely going again.

  2. Thanks so much for coming, and thanks for having a great time and writing about it!

  3. @SpAzzGiRL - thank you! I went into it with so many questions that I wanted to make sure I gave my p.o.v. afterward! As you can tell, I loved it! :o)

    @Amanda - the Craft Social was amazing! I'm telling everyone I can about it! Can't wait until the next one!!

  4. I'm so glad you had a good time! It was great to meet you and I hope you post photos of all the new collographs you'll be making!