Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kelli Wefenstette of Greenie Bean Recycle

This week, I caught up with Kelli Wefenstette, creator of Greenie Bean Recycle, and co-founder of the UrbanFolk Circuit, which has been holding craft market shows monthly in Chicago since October 2010. I ran into her at the Handmade Market this Winter, and was immediately drawn to her handmade items that incorporated used tee shirts, bed sheets and vintage fabrics.
Kelli recently met me in a coffeshop, and it seemed there was barely a moment when she wasn't smiling or laughing about what she does. She exudes a youthful passion for her ventures, while explaining that she's become a veteran of working craft shows, and is quickly honing her expertise at organizing them as well.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roslyn Broder of Red Ava Designs

I came across Roslyn Broder of Red Ava Designs, at the Handmade Market last month, and she has recently begun metalsmithing jewelry. She's a good example of someone taking a craft and applying a professional designer's skills to the products, and to the self-marketing she has developed.

Tell me a bit about the things you've been making and selling...
Well, I started a little over a year ago, just doing beads and wire - I taught myself how to do it. I work as a graphic designer, and my work wasn't super busy, and I had this idea I wanted to do a craft -

Did this coincide with the economic slump, by chance?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I really liked making the bead and wire jewelry - it's very therapeutic. So then I decided to try the metalsmithing, and now I can do more elaborate things.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


For some perspective - An article about Indie Maker, Rob Honeycutt, who started making messenger bags in his garage, and then moved into low-volume manufacturing.

I could yammer on for hours about the value of local making, even at their scale, but it's interesting to think about that point when Indie Makers make that decision to leap out of the home studio to the factory floor, and what value they bring to their community and customers by doing so.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jami Krause, Twister Extraordinaire

Some makers don't fit neatly into the worlds of craft, or art or design, yet they are Independent Makers, nonetheless, because they work alone, are passionate about the things they make, and about generating an income from their effort. Jami Krause is one of those 'other' types of maker.

I find her model of making very interesting, because she makes clever, visually appealing objects that please crowds of people - and then gives them away. She charges for her time, and in one session, may make only one complex object, or dozens of simpler ones.

Jami is a Balloon Twister. You might be surprised to learn that there's a boatload of folks nationwide who make all the money they need, working as balloon twisters. Some people have even found success in developing and manufacturing the tools and accessories that twisters use in their work.

This Summer, Jami is taking the big leap. She will quit her office job, sell the contents of her apartment, pack up her bike, and travel the country, twisting balloons and blogging about her adventures. If things work out, she will land in a new home, where she will make her living making balloons, and a lot of smiles.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sara McIntosh of Sara's Shoes and Krispy Fringe

This week has been a pretty cold one, even for Chicago, but I braved the bluster and hustled over to a new shop on Damen Avenue in Chicago, to interview Sara McIntosh, veteran maker of custom footwear.
Sara made time to meet me on her day off, and we stepped into Krispy Fringe, the hybrid boutique and workshop that she and her business partner, Kristy Kladzyk, just recently opened together. The space is a feast for the eyes, feeling more like a place for vintage collectibles, than for custom-made shoes and clothes. After oogling the shoes and clothing, discretely nestled amid random objects - from dismantled violins to a Bionic Woman action figure - we sat down at the workbench in the cobbler shop that Sara has set up in the rear half of the space.