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Entries in making (6)


Designer Press Kit Award

Sarahndipitous Designs was awarded the Designer Press Kit Award at the Summer Craft and Hobby Association Convention in Chicago. It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by a leader in the Creative Industry and chosen by one's professional peers to be singled out for their handiwork... My deepest thanks.

I have been asked numerous times about Press Kits, specifically, how to create something that solidifies branding, engages the end consumer, and connects in such a way that those who come in contact with the pieces do not see a slick marketing campaign but are genuinely attached to the message... How is it that we build evangelists rather than 'dutiful click the like button' fans. This is a tough question made tougher when that "something" we're selling isn't tangible, isn't a physical product but rather, an idea wrapped in the cloak of a potential needed outcome. Designers sell art but, most times, we're hired to generate ideas, concepts, processes, and techniques... intellectual 'noseeums' hidden behind the veil of Non-Disclosure Agreements and Non-Compete Clauses in some Batcave.

So, I decided to pick apart this year's Press Kit a bit to illustrate the process and point out some of the thinking behind the entire campaign.

The theme of this year's Press Kit was "How to Be a Creative Super Hero In One Week." I had been marinating on the concept of a year's worth of weeks, 52 somethings that were bursting at the seams with purpose, deliberate actions that affect a positive change in those giving and receiving those actions. I encounter people daily that insist that they were overlooked when the art talent magic wand was sprinkling glitter over the Universe, people who genuinely believe that they are missing the "Create" gene. I personally believe that our humanity itself is discovered when we use our own two hands to craft the world we envision, that making things and producing something of value *is* what sticks us to the timeline of history- I believe this right down to my core.

I decided that I needed to illustrate how an ordinary person could be transformed in small increments over the course of a week to be decidedly extraordinary through their own initiative. I also decided that I would create this message sans fancy tools unaccessible to the average person (no editing software, no computer wizardry, no expensive tools that make us all look good and streamline the process... I went old school folks- recycled copy paper, a pencil, a permanent black marker, a straight edge, a gluestick and scissors (this was both liberating and incredibly frustrating incidentally))

I hand drew the comics and photocopied them at the local FedEx/Kinkos onto overhead projector transparencies. Each comic cell (7 x the 200 kits I made for the event) were each individually hand colored, painted in with acrylic paints in a series of layers on the backside. I wanted each and every person who received one of these kits to know that they were holding a signed and numbered piece of art, that they were worth an original and that the message was so important, the conviction so deep, that it was worth the time investment gifted in each kit. 

Each comic book was housed in an elaborate mechanical card shell. I actually love making things that are not static and creating objects that are intended to be played with and pondered (yes, for those initiated and desperately curious to know how the mechanics worked, there was a secret message to them alone all sealed up behind the scenes). The card was black and in the lower right hand corner, an abstract of some urban city. When the necessary pulls were engaged, the wheeled mechanism became a spotlight (a proverbial "batsignal") that called for a hero over the city.

Lastly, in following through with the promise to "Equip. Enable. and Inspire" (our trademarked tagline), I packaged each how-to comic book with a proper superhero mask in a clear bag that protects artwork and belted the outside with a custom crafted "utility belt"... a deck of 52 cards that my children had transformed sticker by sticker (200 x 52... we kept all the jokers) into meaningful ways to be someone's super hero... ordinary things that mean everything to someone in need, ordinary ways to use our hands to create the kind of world we'd like to live in, ordinary reminders that it was us, normal folks, who built Makermetropolis.

There were other facets and nifty new technologies we employed for the whole campaign that were dotted here and there throughout the show floor and sprinkled in the various presentations that made the message cohesive and fun. Press kits are really created to announce things, the point of this kit was to turn the spotlight a bit and shine it on the reason why I and my team love getting up every morning and going to work... for our clients and the end consumer who gets to interact with what we made.

If we do our job as Designers, they don't see us, they see our clients shine. When we edify others, when we encourage the very best out of people by using the talents we have been blessed with to their absolute fullest, those we affect turn around and do amazing things for themselves. In being someone else's hero, we in essence save ourselves I think.


By Scratch

Donuts are wonderful, especially fresh ones almost too hot to handle and still adjusting to the baptism of sparkling cinnamon and sugar. As most folks who have done this sort of thing know, making donuts from scratch can be an ordeal... there are just so many ways things can go terribly wrong yet, it's the pay-off, that plateful of awesome and the promise of pure amazing that seduces us out of our comfort zones and makes us willing to battle the hot oil in order to achieve bliss.

As it should happen, as these things tend to do, I managed to make about a dozen donuts before sparking a lovely kitchen fire (a product of wanting to "speed things along") that, of course, set off all the smoke detectors in the house. My perfect breakfast plan was promptly thwarted as the rest of the family quickly filed down the stairs to see what was the matter. Somewhere in the clean-up process, talk of going out to buy donuts was discussed in hushed voices (as if I could not hear the mutinous suggestions arising from the peanut gallery- moms have EXCELLENT hearing) and I pulled out my soap-box and mustered the best "lay it on thick" guilt voice I could manage. I explained the merits of scratch cooking, the beautiful nuances that store bought could never achieve, the love and care that mixed that dough and inspired an earlier than usual sunrise... to which they responded, "We are hungry now."

There is a lesson here that applies to crafting believe it or not and it is a hard one to swallow for some die-hard do it yourself (by scratch) maker types... some folks love the kits, they want the store bought and the instant satisfaction of having their "hunger" met immediately rather than waiting around for it and no amount of soap-box preaching is going to change that for them. Crafters are like brownies (or donuts) in a way... some will be pure store-bought, that is, they will buy the very best handmade lovelies and appreciate the taste but, they have no desire to make it for themselves and, thank goodness for them because, afterall, we need them to buy our handiwork to keep us in business. Then, there are those who buy the boxed mix, the ones who like the convenience of having the pieces and enjoy the satisfaction of making it themselves. Speaking as a Mom, I like the way boxed mixes (kits) introduce my kidlets to cooking without having to make the major investment of all the individual ingredients (which they may or may not like). And finally, there are those who love to build on their own (some with a recipe and some without). These trailblazers are test pilots, they pave the way for all future brownie (or donut) makers... they inspire us and teach us how to craft something amazing. Yup, sitting there eating a well-crafted store bought donut I had an epiphany that tasted like chocolate and smiled like a lesson learned. 



Craft Wars

I needed to marinate a bit before deciding to post about Craft Wars, the new show on TLC. First, in the spirit of disclosure, I am a Professional Designer in the Crafting Industry, I not only create content for numerous publications and various media outlets, I also create the very products seen on the show. I personally know many of the folks involved with the show and call them friends as well as a large percentage of the contestants themselves... to choose a winner would be akin to asking me which one of my three children is my favorite- it can't be done.

Rather than pick apart and rehash many of the criticisms and various critiques, I wanted to focus on something one of my students pointed out. Let me set the stage a bit first. This student is in her late 60's, is retired and spends much of her free time and resources on crafting. This student and her many friends had a "Craft Wars" party and insisted on texting me throughout the innagural show- funny as they are (and they are), these texts and running commentaries will never be published. Her words to me at the end of that first show were, "Sweetie why do they make it all disposable? They obviously don't get why we craft."

We live in an age of "reality tv" except, in crafting, the reality part of it isn't to hurry through and throw glitter on something, it is spending time to create something of lasting value. The reality of the world today is that people crave connection, real meaningful connection, not only with others but, in a way, themselves and finding the time to do so is tough. So many things are competing for our time, so many pressing "have-to-do's" and those immediate status updates manage to steal away our fingers and seduce them into doing something temporal rather than building something lasting. We forget that the moment we pick up a few items and decide to take the time to build something from those things, that we are empowered. The whole world could be going down the tubes yet, that one ability to make something from nothing, that deep core belief that we can indeed create a new outcome is like wearing a superhero cape in the face of impossible odds. Crafting links one set of hands to another, it in essence glues together our own humanity and adheres it to the timeline of history.

My take on Craft Wars is that it serves it's purpose as passive entertainment. My hope as a professional crafter and maker is that we collectively insist on functional art, on deliberate, purpose-filled projects that are thoughtful and well-made. The term "craft" or "crafting" should not be synonymous with crap held together with hot glue, with cheaply made or rushed through sparkling quick fixes, or with disposable handiwork... when one hears the term "crafting", my hope is that they hear, "this took time" and think, "Wow, they won the battle, the 'real' Craft Wars... they fought for the time to create something of value and won." 



Granny Squares

The rhythmic beauty in a hook that knows it's own way around the yarns told from youth, the fabric of our lives, a series of stitches fashioned by heart row by row, generation to generation, we are bound and swaddled in the blanket of humanity


Ruffles Attached

As I get older, I realize the truth and wisdom tucked away in that adage, "there is nothing new under the sun." Styles, trends, and daresay, ideas, all have their seasons and all in turn, come back into favor at somepoint. Today it was about ruffles.

I remember wanting a ruffled skirt in the 3rd grade. I wanted this skirt so badly that I had decided to go on a hunger strike until I was given one. The idea of a ruffled skirt permeated my every thought, it was an invasive species that had attached itself to practically every sentence that left my lips. I had become dead wood and this ruffled desire, was fungus eating away at my shell. My great-grandmother, being the amazingly astute person she was, sat me down and taught me how to sew a ruffle and add it to anything my heart desired. She taught me a valuable lesson that day. We have the power to change the things we'd like by learning a skill and having the initiative to do-it-yourself.

This afternoon my daughter came running into the kitchen wanting ruffles on her skirt... and history repeated itself right there before my eyes.   



Luck doesn't keep a horseshoe to a hoof; nails, a honed skill, and hard work do. There are some who believe that luck follows certain people around, smiles on them a bit more, clears the way and sweeps the stones from their path so they do not trip... they believe undeniably that luck chooses some people over others and that it is just the way of the universe.

If luck were a game of horseshoes, the one getting closer to the stake taking it all, I suppose I'd rather be the person who knows how to make their own horseshoes. There will always be someone with better aim, more favorable conditions, and more experience pitching a toss than I but, if I can make my own well, that just changes everything doesn't it?