The Weekend Tourist // Make an Arts Resolution to be more creative

We all need to balance our e-lives with a little “bricks and mortar,” so join the current resurgence of handmade crafts and learn something new in 2012.

A cultural change is taking place now that’s similar to what happened in the late 1800s. During the industrial revolution machines replaced human workers because they could turn out mass quantities of perfect, inexpensive products. At the same time, artisans challenged the machine aesthetic and banded together in what became know as the Arts and Crafts period. They made products using their bare hands. They were proud of the one-of-a-kind qualities that expressed the makers’ marks on hand-built pottery, tooled leather, hammered silver and carved wood. Today those works are highly collectible.

Last weekend I went to the No Coast Craft-o-Rama — the super modern, ultra hip, craft fair. Cute-as-can-be potholders, aprons, purses and plush toys packed booths of nearly 100 vendors. Everything was hand made by this new generation of cottage industrialists. These do-it-yourselfers are proud of irregularities, clunky stitching, and the handmade look. But even as they appreciate the handmade, the DIY movement has been fueled by the Internet. Websites and blogs cater to those looking for inspiration or selling their wares. And nearly every dealer at the craft fair used an iPhone or iPad for sales.

The more we’re on our computers and interacting with social media the more we’re also knitting and sewing and binding books by hand. If you don’t have a hobby, this is your year to find one.

The following Minneapolis destinations will turn on your creative juices. Learn how to make a leather bound book, raku pottery, Swarovski crystal earrings or even a pleated skirt — then post a photo of it on your Facebook page.

MINNESOTA CENTER FOR BOOK ARTS
1011 Washington Ave. S.
mnbookarts.org

Make paper, set metal type, print on an antique letterpress printer, or hand-bind your own book.

NORTHERN CLAY CENTER
2424 E. Franklin Ave. E.
www.northernclaycenter.org

Hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery classes for individuals, couples and singles.

CRAFTY PLANET
2833 Johnson St. NE
craftyplanet.com

A modern fabric store that also has classes on knitting, sewing, embroidery and crochet.

BEAD MONKEY
3717 W. 50th St.
thebeadmonkey.com

Kits and classes on making beaded jewelry, wire wrapping, simple soldering, and PMC (precious metal clay, like polymer clay but fires into a metal).

AMERICAN CRAFTS COUNCIL

1224 Marshall St. NE, Suite 200
craftcouncil.org

If you don’t know what craft to pursue, browse for ideas in the thousands of books, exhibit catalogs and periodicals in the country’s premier craft library. (Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.)

TEXTILE CENTER
3000 University Ave. SE
textilecentermn.org

Classes on quilting, dyeing, felting, needlework and decorating the surfaces of fabric.