Handmade Crafternoon with Kelly Rand

September 24th, 2012

We kicked off our Handmade Crafternoon Fall Series 2012 with an informative session led by Kelly Rand (pictured below), co-founder of HelloCraft and author of Handmade to Sell, a new guidebook on how to build your craft business.

Kelly had lots of great advice for our attendees, and our crew had smart questions for Kelly. If you are thinking about turning your craft hobby into a business, check out Kelly’s book.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from Kristin McDonough, the Director of the Science, Business and Industry Library on 34th and 5th. Her branch offers amazing resources to entrepreneurs. They provide everything from one-on-one counseling with successful business people to free meeting spaces. The NYPL system is such an incredible resource for the greater New York community, and I’m always so impressed by the specialized services the libraries offer.

We got down to crafting, making felt wallets and business card holders designed by my own amazing co-host Jessica Pigza.

She created a basic pattern (pictured on the photocopy below) that was totally customizable. I documented just a few of the amazing pieces our crafters made.

As usual, we had a great group of very happy crafters.

Special thanks to Kelly and Kristin for sharing their advice with our attendees. Save the date of 10/13 for our next Handmade Crafternoon with Sarah Goldschadt, author of Craft-a-day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects. More info here, so hope to see you there!

P.S. Leave a comment if you have an idea for a future Crafternoon, or leave a comment if you attended this event. I’d love to hear from you!

Handmade Home

July 29th, 2012

Rufus’s grandfather was an incredible craftsperson, and his house in the Bay of Fundy is a museum to his beautiful vision. There isn’t a corner of the house that is missing his touch. He did the needlepoint above, and punched an old tin can to make the sconce below it.

He made the quilted pillows on the window seat; he whitewashed all the walls. Even the broom closet is hidden by punched tin.

As I spend my Sunday cleaning and rearranging things in our apartment, I am thinking about the difference between a house and a home. You can pay someone a lot of money to make your house superbly beautiful, but you are the only person who can turn it into a home. No one else can imbue your objects with the life that comes discovering them on your own — from making them, or thrifting them, or inheriting them from someone you love. So today, think about the story that your home tells. I hope it is a joyful, handmade tale.

Holiday Road

July 9th, 2012

If you are looking for a place of beauty and magic, look no further than the Bay of Fundy. It never fails to astonish me.


As Lindsey Buckingham once brilliantly sang, “It’s a long way down the holiday road.” Well, the road to Fundy is a long one. But I’d leave home right now and be king of the road, because the destination is like nowhere else in the world. Thank you, Canadian vacation! You always treat me so well.

For the Love of Festive Garlands

June 24th, 2012

Time flies when it’s summertime. I can hardly believe it was way back in May that Jennifer Paganelli was our guest at Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library. Jennifer, pictured below with a show-stopping suitcase of her own design, is a ball of non-stop crafty energy. Her good vibrations are completely contagious.

Not only is Jennifer a successful fabric designer, she is also the author of two inspiring craft books, Happy Home and Girl’s World. She shared her vision for creating a joyful party environment in your home with a number of different materials. She is very resourceful, and she makes use of everything from vintage fabrics and old wallpaper to groovy beads like the ones that Greg Brady used to create the entrance to his attic bedroom on The Brady Bunch.

Her delightful assistant Madeline showed off some shiny happy garlands made with origami paper. The garland below features fabric that has been sewn onto heavy paper with a sewing machine.

All of our crafters had a great time playing with the different materials and techniques. This crafter was cutting out circles from a modern green and purple fabric for use in her own garland creation.

My sweet sister-in-law, Emmy, made the foundation of a garland. She added even more elements to it when she got home, but even the beginning of the garland looks primed for a party.

The lovely Leigh, our steadfast and cheerful volunteer, made a really rad, sculptural looking paper piece.

My bro Andy came and showed his support for all things Handmade. I love the fact that he is one of our regulars – it’s so nice to have dudes in the room, especially when they have a great sense of humor like he does. And my mom, another loyal volunteer and craft genius, was there to help as always.

Many thanks to the wonderful Jessica Pigza for being the librarian co-hostess with the absolute most-est. I am thrilled to mention that Jessica will be writing a book tentatively entitled “Handmade at the Library” for the incredible STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books.  I know she is going to write a book that will be a crucial resource for crafters the world over. I can’t wait to read it!

Thanks as always to the New York Public Library for letting us craft in their amazing building and make use of their good people for our crafty good times. Please consider making a donation to the library, as budgets are being slashed citywide and the city needs the help of all good citizens. Where would we be without our libraries? I shudder to think.

And finally, thanks to our wonderful community of crafters that make Handmade Crafternoon the elevating experience that it is. I am so grateful to know all of you, and I look forward to seeing you in the fall!

Last Crafternoon of the Spring!

May 10th, 2012

Come on and party with us this Saturday, May 12th, from 2 to 4pm at the New York Public Library at the last Handmade Crafternoon of the season! We are very excited to welcome Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom fabrics.

Jennifer designs cheerful festive fabrics that feel like they’re destined for an outdoor summer party, and she’ll be showing us how to make party garlands.

RSVP info is here. I can’t wait to make some party garlands with you.


Skull Party

April 22nd, 2012

We had another fantastic Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library last Saturday, April 14th. Noah Scalin, artist/graphic designer/author/speaker/artistic guru, came up from Virginia to share with us some exercises to inspire creativity. He is the creator of the immensely popular Skull a Day project and the book Skulls, and he has written two books on jumpstarting the creative process, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal and Unstuck.

He brought several cool projects for our crafters to enjoy, including paper skulls to decorate as each individual desired. The ingenious design includes an element that allows the jaw to move.

The resulting skulls were humorous and marked with a variety of techniques. This cool skull incorporates elements of Noah’s Dadaist and found poetry exercises.

I love the colors the artist used for this one – I’ve named it “That ’70s Skull”.

This one is simple and hilarious – a skull topped with a little bow.

The glitter glue that was donated by Martha Stewart last year was very popular with our skull makers – we had loads of glittering skulls.

And this one really put skulls on the map.

Noah’s poetry exercises prompted several interesting poems. My NYPL librarian co-host Jessica Pigza lead groups to the main reading room to find materials for the Bookworm poetry exercise. A young poet named wrote a lovely piece, and even read it for the group.

She inspired other poets (including her mom) to share their pieces with the group as well. Check out her mom’s sweet blog post about the day here. Others played with the Censored poetry exercise, where a poem is created by selecting words from an existing piece of writing and using them to create a new work. The piece below incorporates design elements as well (more glitter!).

It was a very galvanizing afternoon. I’m very thankful to Noah for sharing all of his eye-opening ideas, and as always, thankful to Jessica and the New York Public Library for hosting Handmade Crafternoon.

I was also thrilled to see my dear friend Myra Greene‘s incredible work as part of the library’s Photography and Ruin exhibit. It’s open through May 6th and well worth seeing.

Please join us for the last Handmade Crafternoon of the season on May 12th. We are very excited to welcome Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom fabrics. We’ll be making party garlands. It feels like the perfect way to kick off summer, the season of outdoor parties!

Looms Are the Jam

March 11th, 2012

I had the best time last Saturday at our Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library. My wonderful co-host Jessica Pigza approached the New York Guild of Handweavers last year to see if they would be interested in hosting an event for us, and they enthusiastically agreed.

They brought an army of amazing volunteers to teach our very lucky attendees all about the basic techniques of handweaving.

They set everyone up with amazing tiny handlooms they made for us out of popsicle sticks! Each attendee got to take home their own little loom, which just might be our coolest take home yet. (There is a wonderful write up about the event that really explains the looms over at

We immediately had a lot of happy ladies weaving away.

There were even a few brave gentlemen amongst us, including my super crafty best man, Dave, pictured above. He is very talented self-taught knitter, and he picked up the weaving technique almost instantaneously. He had his own fan club by the time we all packed our looms away. :)

Even with the same technique learned and the same looms used, the result was different for every weaver. Above is an open style weaving and right below is a much tighter weave.

But here is the tightest weave of all! So tiny. It would make a stunning belt.

Jessica also took some great pictures of the weaving up close, which can be seen here. I didn’t take a lot of shots because I was weaving up a storm!

We got to see lots of fancier looms at work. Jessica even showed us how to use the loom that she has at home, which was really fun to use. She also brought a great collection of books, as always, with a special focus on weaving.

The lovely illustrations above are from a comprehensive book called “The Weavers” by Leonard Everett Fisher.

I’d like to give a huge thanks to the wonderful people from the New York Guild of Handweavers. They did so much work to prepare for our event, and they mobilized a great gang of people to get our crafters excited about weaving. They offer lectures and events throughout the year, and membership is only $40.

And as always, a major thank you to Jessica and the wonderful New York Public Library for use of their space. Hope to see you at our next event on April 14th with Noah Scalin!

Ten Years of Crafternoon

February 6th, 2012
Photo credit: Rufus Tureen

I can hardly believe it, but this February marks the ten year anniversary of Crafternoon. The very first Crafternoon party was held in San Francisco at the apartment I shared with my roommates Jen and Beverlie. I was just a young thing, living in a city far from my native New York. I performed sketch comedy with in a group called Killing My Lobster. My mom came out to see one of our shows, so I threw a party in her honor. We ate cookies and made Valentines. And the rest is craft history.

From that point on, craft parties have been a regular part of my life. I hosted them at my apartment in Brooklyn, other people’s apartments all over the city, at bars, at parks, you name the spot, I had a craft party there. And when Simon & Schuster gave me the opportunity to write about those parties in Crafternoon: A Guide to Getting Artsy and Crafty with Your Friends All Year Long, I was able to share some of my stories with readers like you.

I then had the great fortune to meet Jessica Pigza, a crafty rare books librarian at the New York Public Library. She had heard of my book, and wanted to expand the craft-oriented programming at the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch. We started Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library, a free event open to any and all crafty people. It has been a joy to see Crafternoon expand to the hallowed halls of the NYPL.

Photo Credit: The Martha Stewart Show

And then Martha happened.

Who would have thought that last February, I’d be crafting with Martha Stewart?  Jessica Pigza and I dazzled Martha with some Valentines that went far beyond the complexity of my regular endeavors. Did I say dazzled? Yeah, I think she was dazzled. She even blogged about us, saying, “Crafternoon is so much fun!”

I’d like to thank every single person who has attended a Crafternoon, told their friends about them, bought the book, visited the website, hosted me in their space, supported me as a friend or family member, or been a crafty inspiration. Special thanks to my wonderful husband Rufus Tureen who is my unpaid life coach, giving me great advice and making me laugh always. And of course, love to my crafty mom who inspires me always with her handiwork. Love to my dad, my brother, my in-laws, and all my dear crafty friends, especially Christine Poreba and Emilie Stewart.

So if you want to share the love with me this weekend, come celebrate the tenth anniversary of Crafternoon at a Valentine making workshop at the Brooklyn Museum. I’ll be crafting my heart out from 2-4 on Saturday, February 11th. I’d be honored to celebrate this milestone with you.

Christmas in California

December 29th, 2011

Swimming in Satsuma here in sunny Los Angeles.

Preparing patchwork pups for my dearest expecting friend.

Hanging handmade ornaments everywhere.

Witnessing worlds of wonder.

I hope your holidays are just as happy.


Heartfelt Thanks for Another Crafty Year

December 20th, 2011

This Saturday was my final Crafternoon of 2011. The halls of the library were decked, and it was a very jolly celebration of the season.

I was happy to have both my mom and my mom-in-law in attendance for the handsewn festivities.

Brett Bara expertly guided us along the day’s crafty path. She exudes positive energy, and has loads of sewing expertise, and she lead our group on a rewarding and heartfelt felt adventure.

Lots of sweet ornaments were made to hang on many lucky trees.

And the sewn bowls, modified from Brett’s book Sewing in a Straight Line, were a huge hit. This clever crafter sewed one bowl inside another, creating a petal effect.

That sumptuous white felt was provided by OhMa Felt, which is the best felt I’ve ever used. (I cannot recommend it highly enough – the stunning colors and thick wool/rayon blend are head and shoulders above standard craft store felt.) The bowls would be the perfect thing to fill with peppermint candies and leave out for Santa Claus. Visions of sugar plums most definitely danced in my head on Saturday evening.

Many thanks to all of the crafty guests we’ve had this year. Thanks also to our fantastic volunteers, Pam Madden and Leigh Hurwitz. Thanks to the amazing New York Public Library for welcoming us into their hallowed halls, and thanks to the talents of the wonderful librarian Jessica Pigza who makes it all happen. It’s been another wonderful year of crafting, and I’m looking forward to an equally inspiring 2012!

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