April 28, 2010

Portland: D.I.Y. Craft Culture

Portland craft culture has boomed over the last five years, with Portland D.I.Y. crafters and organizations sparking national attention. Earlier this year, local Etsy crafters witnessed a milestone event as Brooklyn-based Etsy and the Pacific Northwest College of Art teamed up to host a new Portland craft project, I Heart Art. (PNCA already has a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Craft and a joint MFA program with Oregon College of Art and Craft).

While I Heart Art sorts out its agenda and governing, another Portland craft organization, Crafty Wonderland, is receiving due attention for its Colossal Spring Sale, which will showcase over 200 crafters this weekend at the Oregon Convention Center. Crafty Wonderland was started by PDX Super Crafty members Torie Nguyen and Cathy Pitters four years ago as a monthly craft fair, which was held in the basement of the Doug Fir (on E. Burnside) monthly up until last November.

Another local craft organization born in 2006 is Destination D.I.Y. Destination D.I.Y. produces radio shows and podcasts based on themes related to crafting and craft politics. Founder and host Julie Sabatier has received much press and her show has moved from its origins at KBOO to being hosted by Oregon Public Broadcasting. Supporters of Destination D.I.Y. include local non-profits integral to the local grassroots art and craft scene, SCRAP, the School and Community Reuse Action Project, and the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC).

Meanwhile, DIY Alert! provides a monthly e-newsletter that let's the craft community know about the latest class offerings and events in the Portland area.

Not that craft is new to the Northwest! Craft guilds, such as the Portland Handweaver's Guild, founded in 1945, have been keeping craft traditions alive since before most of us were born. (PDX Super Crafty have a great article about the history of craft in Portland). The Oregon Convention Center hosts a craft extravaganza this weekend (yes in the same center and on the same weekend as Crafty Wonderland's sale!) with guilds representing wood, metal, glass, and ceramics.

This year's Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Sale is sure to showcase some of Portland's finest D.I.Y. crafters and makers, with the more traditional guilds just a hallway away. The Convention Center events will provide a lively backdrop for the blossoming Portland craft culture.

Written by: Eleanor Williams
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