Art Talk – Handmade Nation

One of the projects for my design class is to attend two art events and write a summary in our sketchbook.  Last night I went to see Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl Harvey speak at the University of Wisconsin art department as part of the University’s art talk series. Faythe and Courtney are the authors of the book Handmade Nation, featuring 24 crafters in the crafting community around the country. Have you seen this book yet? It’s very cool!

The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design

(image from

Faythe Levine traveled around the country to gather stories from different makers of handmade goods, giving readers a wide range view of the crafting community.  Each crafter shared ideas and encouragement, showing their art and giving a little insight into their lives. There are photos of the artists’ work and their work space, as well as discussions about their work process and their beginnings. It’s a very encouraging to those out there persevering with your blog and web shop, at craft fairs and boutiques.


Levine gave us a brief timeline of her history in the handmade community, from her original company to organizing Milwaukee’s Art v. Craft fair, which had 300 applicants for 65 juried positions and was attended by 3,500 people, to the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery she runs now, where she features independent crafters from all over the world along with gallery shows throughout the year.  She has traveled far in her handmade journey – quite an inspiration!

She talked about many of her favorite makers, such as Kate Bingaman-Burt, an illustrator who documents her consumption through her art, Stephanie of Anti-Factory who makes clothing from repurposed and vintage fabric, Knitta which is a crew of knitters who adorn public places with their knitting, and  Castoff, a knitting club promoting knitting.


Faythe and Cortney are also makers of the documentary about the rise of DIY, which is premiering in Milwaukee on Thursday, February 5.  The film will be part of the Wisconsin Film Festival in April, so watch for the schedule. You can see a preview of the documentary here.  You can read a great interview on design sponge about the book, the movie, and these two ambitious women.  They have a great blog too, of course!

In addition to being excited to see the  handmade movement get more and more national recognition, I realized how many people there are in the world with the same craving I have – to make things.  “It’s about taking time to slow down and make with our own hands, incorporating creativity into our lives,” Faythe and Cortney agreed.    YES, exactly!

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