From For the Head

#FellowMakers Part 1: Learning from History & the Triangle Factory Fire

Fellow Makers, young Italian immigrant garment worker in Brooklyn

Fellow makers, many of us have forgotten International Women’s Day began as International Working Women’s Day. The agenda? Changing conditions for the working women of the world and uniting the working class. On March 8, 1857, garment workers in New York City marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day, and equal rights for women. On March 8, 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again, honoring the 1857 march, demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and regulation of child labor. In 1910 at the Second International in Copenhagen, a world wide socialist party congress, Clara Zetkin proposed March 8th be proclaimed International Working Women’s Day to honour the work and struggle of women the world over.

The garment making industry had doubled in size between 1900 and 1910 with factories cramming unskilled immigrant workers from Russia and Italy into inadequate buildings without fire escapes or working regulations. Women who had previously worked from home were now forced to work in factories as piece-work sewing shifted to assembly production to meet demand.

#FellowMakers Triangle Fire Striking Workers

In November 1909 young women had helped instigate the “Uprising of 20,000”, the largest strike of women workers in New York history at that time, when 20,000 of New York’s 40,000 garment workers walked out of the factories and refused to work after being called to strike by Clara Lemlich. Clara was a 19 year old Ukrainian immigrant, who stood up in front of thousands of fellow workers to say:

“I am a working girl. One of those who are on strike against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in general terms. What we are here for is to decide whether we shall strike or shall not strike. I offer a resolution that a general strike be declared now.”

The next morning they took to the streets. After the general strike of 1909 the majority of New York shirtwaist manufacturers had signed union contracts, except for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and on March 25th 1911 the need for women to unite went from a revolutionary spark to a blazing fire.

March 25th, 1911

Hundreds of women filed into the ninth and tenth floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory as they did every morning. Some women lugged the heavy machines they would work on all day and were required to carry back and forth from the factory. Many women would also take home clothing to be worked on by the whole family, with children as young as three sewing into the night. Workers were mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, who laboured long hours under miserable conditions facing regular deductions for electricity, mistakes, singing, or talking on the job. In some shops workers had to supply their own thread, needles, or rent the chairs they sat on to increase the profit margins for the shop owner. There were also men at work in the factories as pressers who spent all day standing at long tables using hot irons to press finished pieces, but the employees were overwhelmingly female.

That day when the women were bent over their machines a fire broke out and ravaged the factory killing 146 people, mostly Italian or Jewish women and girls. Many leapt from the roof or windows when they could not escape the factory floor because the fire escape doors had been locked to prevent stealing. Still known as the worst factory fire in US history the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire led to sweeping marches and reforms on worker rights not only in America but around the world. The cries of workers jumping to their deaths made Frances Perkins rush out the door to watch as in under twenty minutes over a hundred lives were lost, Frances would go on to be secretary of labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt and the first woman to serve as a Cabinet secretary. The event galvanized the Progressive movement in the US by uniting wealthy women with working women to improve social conditions for all. The fire also led three young Jewish women Clara Lemlich,  Rose Schneiderman, and Pauline Newman into a life of union organizing and political action. The working women who changed history were handmakers with little education or means, just like millions of us are today. Rose Schneiderman’s famous 1912 speech following the fire is as relevant now as it was then:

“What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist — the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.”

We like to believe things have changed since 1911, but have they really? Now that garment and textile factories aren’t in Brooklyn but in Bangladesh we can be comfortable thinking that if we buy or make handmade we are not part of the problem. The rising rage in the handmade community around reselling, manufacturing, and ‘craft-washing’ by factories and companies obscures a much deeper issue – if handmade is to be an alternative to the sweatshops we need to learn to scale fairly, democratically, and with organized structures for advocacy and accountability. Otherwise we run the risk of not being a force for change but a self-serving way to avoid dealing with larger patterns of consumption, all while making ourselves feel good.

#FellowMakers Triangle Fire Mourning

“That spring of 1911 we mourned our dead comrades, the victims of a society which was concerned only with the profits of an individual and not with the welfare of the many, of the working masses. The Triangle victims were martyrs in the fight for social justice, and the labor movement will always remember them as those who, with their young lives, paved the way for a better world with a more just society, a world free from exploitation, in which equal rights for all will be respected.”

Mary Domsky-Abrams, Blouse Operator, 9th floor (read her full interview with Leon Stein here)

Fast forward 100 years: manufacturing is carefully regulated in the developed world where we have unions, fair wage standards, building inspectors, child labour laws, and labour rights organizations. Across our borders and oceans conditions for women have not improved, they have worsened. Maybe Clara, Rose, and Pauline would have been the first to call North American sisters to arms when over 1100 people died and 2500 were injured in Bangladesh during the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013.  Unfortunately while tragedies get major press the follow up, policy change, and worker rights get less public interest because they impact our personal luxuries or divide us politically. Major brands like Loblaws, GAP, H&M, Target, Topshop, and more, use garment manufacturers in Cambodia and Bangladesh, where the factories employ primarily women and children.

In April 2016 it will be three years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse and despite promises to take care of injured workers and improve conditions the BBC reported women like Mossammat Rebecca Khatun are unable to work, Khatun spent two days under the rubble and lost her leg along with five family members. Others like Sharmin Akter had to return to their previous jobs despite being terrified and still others are unable to find work at all. “They consider us too damaged, they think we will not be able to work as hard as we did before.” one worker is quoted as sayingAs the CBC reported many of the brands implicated in the collapse have contributed little or nothing to funds that support those who were injured.  In the 140 page Human Rights Watch report “Work Faster or Get Out” conditions in the Cambodian garment industry are laid bare for us to consider the price of cheap labour. 90% of garment factory workers in Cambodia are women who face being fired for pregnancy, taking bathroom breaks, or working too slowly amid many abuses of fundamental human rights. Even now locking factory doors to prevent employees from stealing or holding union meetings.

Today, a century after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire workers are still routinely dismissed, intimidated, or killed for trying to unionize to protect each other and improve conditions in countries like Cambodia, not because our countries are better than theirs but because consumers like us believe sweatshops are morally okay if things are cute.  Don’t get too cozy on your handmade high horse, even shopping local or supporting ethical brands does nothing to help fellow makers in factories overseas. Sam Maher, policy director of worker safety at Labour Behind the Label wrote 18 months after the collapse,

“The survivors and families of Rana Plaza have been failed by everyone. Their government, their employers, the brands and, yes, even us – the consumers. As long as our response to such tragedy is to wring our hands in guilt, to worry about our choices and how we can feel good about the clothes we buy, we will continue to fail them. As much as we may want to, we can’t shop ourselves out of this. If we really want a fashion revolution, we have to do more. We have to stand with these workers and shout as loud as we can, so that they will not be forgotten and will not be left alone.”

#FellowMakers Rana Plaza Factory Collapse survivors photos by Kevin Frayer for Associated Press

These are the faces of the women who are often seen as “competition” to handmade businesses – if this is our competition, what does that say about us? Photographs by Kevin Larkin for Associated Press. 

Women-led movements in both the US and Canada changed how the developed world treats workers. Policies, building codes, fair wages, and employee benefits exit because workers lobbied for regulations and the right to collective bargaining. Women worked together to form trade unions, guilds, and advocacy groups even uniting housewives into unions to lobby for access to childcare and affordable rent. Yet the very concept of the working class, of worker’s/women’s rights, or unions have become dirty words so it is little wonder that International Working Women’s Day was replaced by the less polarizing International Women’s Day. Yes, all women’s lives matter, just like all lives matter but the lives of specific communities experience pressures that others with more resources do not. This is one reason why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important to the Black community, by speaking with a collective voice, intolerable conditions can change.

Despite the romance that surrounds it, entrepreneurship has led to less security for workers with many micro-business owners working well over 10 hours a day. Many also juggle parenting or second jobs to get by. Many small business owners are uninsured and injuries, pregnancies, or illness in the family can leave them reeling financially and without proper support, so it is understandable that many feel they don’t have time to work together. Despite economic instability for increasing numbers of workers, unions in North America have seen a steady decline and lack of interest from young people since general working conditions improved and the right to unionize was protected. The Freelancer’s Union and Maker’s Row in the US are working to close that gap but very little exists for handmakers globally or locally.  At the same time manufacturing is a dirty word in the handmade community with so much rage directed towards any company or person who looks to grow. It can’t be chance that the main headquarters for Etsy is located just a short ride across the bridge from where the Triangle Factory fire happened, from their location in the Lower East Side where many of the Jewish immigrants lived during the time of the fire it is possible they can change commerce for the better – with our help. Of all the companies that have been built based on handmade values Etsy is leading the way in initiating many discussions around policy change, responsible manufacturing, democratic access to entrepreneurship and ethics but it is unfair to expect them to be the ‘creativity police’, makers own that role. But are we doing a good job?

Who is Responsible?  

Some makers truly believe reselling or manufacturing can hurt handmade and that until we stop overseas factories all artisans will suffer, then there are articles like this from Lucky Break Consulting on why “handmade alone isn’t enough” and is “becoming more vanilla with each passing day” justifying makers believing the only way to succeed is to pour money into hustling to keep up. This is in stark contrast to the stories in this article. The woman featured in this video who had to give up her baby to not lose her job. Or the stories featured in this Norwegian reality series where young fashion bloggers spend time living and working with Cambodian garment workers. Even though we might struggle to pay the bills from month to month, the average North American creative entrepreneur is not living or working in intolerable conditions, employers are not taking food out of our children’s mouths, and our sales usually come from niche markets who can purchase higher price points. By working together we could improve our products, photography, marketing, and values but as individual business owners we are little more than mini-corporations without any code of ethics at all.

So while we argue or debate the value of handmade, fellow makers around the world struggle just to make it through the day.

#FellowMakers Who is Responsible?

No, the blame for the division of the maker movement can’t be laid on factories, platforms, or policies – the problem is the consumer – us. Many makers are incredibly privileged as Betsy Greer of Craftivism so brilliantly explains, that we have the luxury to debate what is handmade and shame other workers who don’t meet our arbitrary standards is a perfect example of this wealth and power. That the new meme for maker culture has become spoofs like this instead of knitting as a form of resistance isn’t the fault of any one company. History has proven that handmade values and the profit system don’t go well together, as Utah Phillips explains in Natural Resources on the album The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere,

“the profit system always follows the path of least resistance and following the path of least resistance is what made the river crooked.” 

We choose to be elitist instead of organizing supports like unions or trade organization with our fellow makers. We complain about companies like Etsy instead of working with them to improve policies and support the women, who at least in Canada, represent  91% of it’s seller base according to the most recent seller survey. We shame dissenting voices when we could build an inclusive movement with a solid foundation for makers at home and around the world.  Self-interest makes us mean, small-minded, and bigoted as a community leaving people more worried about sales than the people making the things we consume. If we truly care about handmade values it is time to put aside divisive arguments and work as a community to make sure that the  “better world with a more just society, a world free from exploitation, in which equal rights for all will be respected” Mary wrote of after surviving the Triangle Fire finally becomes a reality and no more sisters or brothers die from “neglect of the human factor”.

Learning from History

We keep telling ourselves now that handmade won’t save the world, and it sure won’t if we keep treating it like a commodity instead of a belief system. Just buying handmade won’t change the world, but handmade values can, the belief that people, places, and process always matter more than profits and that together our hands can make a better world.  These are the same values that propelled the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 1800s to 1920s when artists and craftspeople rebelled against the increased industrialization of life, the mechanization of art, the rise of factory work, and monotony of assembly line jobs. The movement gave women the chance to move crafts out of the domestic sphere and into the world of art and business where they united around creativity, making money from traditional industries and employing other women.

The Arts and Crafts movement in Europe and the Craftsman movement in the US led to a revival of traditional craft, the establishment of woman-owned potteries like Rookwood, and influenced the future of design. Then, as now, what started out as a woman driven movement built on handmade values became a marketing niche and the same conflicts divided the movement. Some took the side of democratic, affordable art made possible through ethical manufacturing and the other for purity of process and artisanal pretention, slowly it all fell apart leaving us some lovely antiques.  What is happening now in the maker movement isn’t new, these politics have divided us before. Is it handmade or homemade? Is it art or craft? We reduce handmade values to bourgeois elitism when primarily white moneyed educated folks bicker about what isn’t allowed while the rest of the makers and workers try to make do. Divide and Conquer is one of the oldest tricks in the Capitalist Handbook.

The trouble with thinking handmade can be hurt by factory made is that as makers in the developed world with access to means, technology, and supplies we have an incredible opportunity to create ethical economies. It is our responsibility to extend the hand of fellowship to makers globally who also want to improve working conditions and wages so we can lift each other up. Factories are not our competition, the profit system is. Handmade isn’t fragile, it was here in the beginning of time when our ancestors painted pictographs and will be here to tell our stories long after all of us are dust. Handmade might not be enough to build you an empire on the backs of others but it will always enough for those who want a simple life of handmade, homemade goodness. We don’t create a culture that values craft, artistry, beauty and value by shaming or arguing in little cliques – we do it by educating, investing in opportunities, and working together in solidarity within our community, trade, and political structures to meet our needs collectively and hold our systems accountable. To want for each other what we want for ourselves was the foundation of the union movement and one we might want to rebuild if we care about handmade, women, workers, or the hands that make the world.

Makers today can learn many lessons from the Triangle Factory Fire: Factories are not the enemy, they are our responsibility; Governments and companies don’t make policies or improve standards unless moved by regular people; The factory worker/immigrant/fellow maker are not competition, they are family; and so many more…but maybe the most important one for us to remember is the moral attributed to Aesop in the sixth century:

United we stand, divided we fall.

 

FellowMakers5

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which four oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

Sources: 

Jess_Headshot2015_sm

Jessika Hepburn is a community organizer who started developing OMHG as a gathering place for her fellow makers in 2010. A veteran entrepreneur Jessika has been running a handmade business for over a decade and working with communities across North America for longer. Whether it is consulting with Etsy to develop diverse programming, pioneering new models of cooperation locally with Maritime Makers, or organizing community events, Jessika’s work and life revolve around the belief that when we value handmade and human goodness, anything is possible. You can find her making a life with her love of 12 years and two beautiful daughters in a 200 year old pink house in rural Atlantic Canada where few things are kept that she does not “know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.

Learn more about her work with communities here.

70 Ways to Build Community, Save Your Sanity, and Change the World

70 Ways to Build Community, Oh My! Handmade

It’s become such a cliched phrase-something we say and recognize to be true but don’t often act on:

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

What does that even mean?

I am asked all the time – “How can I possibly do it all?”

The hard truth is you can’t.

You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. You can’t be the only one responsible for raising your children, running your business, managing your life. You CANNOT do it all alone. And you don’t have to. You shouldn’t even try!

The superwoman/man myth is so dangerous to our parenthood and our lives. It causes us to not ask for or allow ourselves to receive help and to deny when we feel vulnerable, needy, or afraid. It also puts up walls and barriers that keep us from reaching out to others and building a community that knows us for who we really are. We present what we want the world to see, the very best parts of who we think we are, but beneath it all:

We human beings are all fundamentally the same. We all belong to a common broken humanity. We all have wounded, broken hearts. Each one of us needs to feel appreciated and understood; we all need help. 

Jean Vanier, Becoming Human 

 

Isn’t that is what is most beautiful about us? What unites us all no matter how diverse we might seem to be, is that we all need to belong, we all need support. Why deny that? Embrace it, that is where our humanity lives and where compassion comes from. Our brokenness is our biggest strength.

Jean Vanier is the leader of the L’Arche movement, a powerful community model that brings diverse people together to support people with disabilities in loving environments. His words are a call for all of us to live more compassionate and humane lives. He is also one of my personal heroes.

My mother was a young, visibly Black, single mama who had no family support while I was growing up. My nana was a brilliant artist but a truly awful mother, she was abusive, had serious baggage and offered my mother no support or encouragement. So it was little wonder that my mother felt called to help people who were suffering, to give them what she didn’t have. She worked in mental health and community development for people with disabilities and I often came to work with her. I have so many wonderful memories of visiting the group homes my mother worked in and spending time with people of every ability. This is such a huge part of who I am and how I see the world, but there was a price paid. My mother spent her days helping others and then came home to cater to my needs. No one was there to support her. She really did do it all alone and it took a toll on her physical and mental health. My childhood was beautiful but also incredibly hard, filled with loss and struggle.

When I moved out I was drawn to the same work with women, youth, and children. I have always wanted to offer people the support we never had when I was a child. No one should have to suffer alone or in fear. How I do that work has changed over the years but even here on OMHG it’s the same fundamental mission. To share love, be loved, spread love. Through handmade, yes. But mostly through connecting people with others and making them feel less alone and more empowered. This is the root of Jean Vanier’s philosophy:

jean vanier, sixty ways to build community, you are not alone, sustainable community development

If you are feeling like you just can’t do it all and you’re all alone-reach out! Open up. Creating community is the biggest investment you will ever make for yourself and of course for your business. Build both your local and online communities, connect with other people whose stories you care about, who you can be honest with, and who will be there for you when you are struggling. Be there for them. Stop trying to do it all alone, you will always feel like you are missing something and falling short. So whether you are a single mother struggling to fill the role of both mama and papa, or you have a large extended family, or a ton of supportive friends- it doesn’t matter. Your community is right there, waiting for you to  lend a hand or ask for someone to hold yours. Both are wonderful, both are needed.

It is just as important to accept help as to offer it, community building is about reciprocity. A give and take. So if you are in a position of strength offer help, if you see someone struggling stop and see if they will accept support, just be there for each other. Sometimes when we give help we actually get the help that we need. It is amazing that way.

I only have one caution – only offer what you are really able to give. Don’t offer because you think you should but don’t really want to do. Never give out of obligation, guilt, or because you want to feel good about yourself, give because you DO feel good about about yourself and giving is it’s own reward. We all deserve to have a village and it is up to us to make it happen.

How are you building community? 

Seventy Ways to Build Community, Save Your Sanity, and Change the World

This post was originally published in 2011 here and continues to be one of the most popular articles in the archives connecting with everyone from new suburban mamas to inner city ministers. As I slowly rediscover how OMHG fits in my life it was time to dust off this old friend for the first post of the year because the best goodness is worth revisiting. I made up an updated list of 70 Ways to Build Community that you can download, print, and share with your own communities by clicking the image above.  Learn the basics of personal community mapping with the 100 Ways To Build Community Mini-Guide available by donation here or if you are a maker in Atlantic Canada connect with the Maritime Makers initiative to build our local community and strengthen our region through cooperation!

All Oh My! Handmade Goodness printables and free downloads are for non-commercial, personal use only please. Copyright is owned by the designer unless otherwise stated.  If you have a commercial inquiry please contact the designer or email the editor. Please don’t host the PDF on your own site, we love sharing but link to the original post for the download, thanks!

{Match + Maker} Round 3: Australia – Italy – Tokyo

Match + Maker | Oh My! Handmade

It is time for the last round of Match + Maker! As a community we spent February pairing up makers and making matches to help us all connect and create. Meet friends from Hong Kong to Halifax in Round 1, San Francisco to Quebec in Round 2, & makers from all over the world today. Pack your bags, we’re visiting Moldova, Italy, Australia, Canada, Tokyo, UK, and the USA!

How to Play Match + Maker:

  1. Visit Match + Maker Round 1 and Round 2 to make new friends by following each other, reaching out on social media, or by email to say hi or arrange a meet up if you find a local match.
  2. Pair people up by suggesting a match in the comments or make an introduction by email or social media!

Match + Maker | Oh My! Handmade

Wanted Creative Partner in Crime to Take over the World!

Janet Walker | @best2KiS Email | West Midlands, UK

About: Creative designer. Affiliate marketer. Founder, editor of Best2KeepitSimple.com, A Handmade Business supporter. Multi-Passionate mom & a mean smoothie maker.

Seeking: A Creative person with big ideas, To discuss, share, build, grow, support, motivate all our projects|goals to make them happen. B Trustworthy, Honesty & Real.

Loves: My family. Building a great foundation for my sons. Reading, Meeting new creative people. Helping others. Being grateful and happy.

Makes: I make it easier for creatives | handmade’s biz owners to market their businesses online. I design paper products from greeting cards to flyers, booklets. I create websites.

Match: Support fellow creatives in business. Willing to collaborate. Wants honest real discussions.
Optional: A mom. Aged 35+. Shy Must: Luv a laugh. Crazy in a good way. Make Stuff.

New online marketplace for exotic handcrafts

Paige | FBEmail | Australia

About: Former jetsetter & now a new Mum aiming to launch a new online marketplace showcasing handcrafts from around the world.

Seeking: I’m seeking artisans who make crafts that are traditional or typical for their part of the world. Items should be handmade and materials should be sourced locally where possible.

Loves: Travel and learning about this diverse world we live in. Meeting people from different places. Helping those less-fortunate. Freedom to educate my children outside the typical classroom structure.

Makes: New friends & creative connections across the globe, a community for like-minded artisans.

Match: Co-operative, interesting, open to new ideas, fresh, fun, helpful.

Retired Teacher Seeking Crafty Friends

Marsha Roy | Email | Lake Placid, NY, USA

About: I am a retired family and consumer science teacher of 34 years – now I spend my time sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, card making, and many other crafts. I also teach children and adults to sew.

Seeking: Anyone who shares my love of sewing and crafting.

Loves: Family, church, quality crafting, traveling.

Makes: I tackle most anything that catches my eyes – I am always up for new projects. I have a long arm machine and have not learned to use it.

Match: Someone who has time to craft and share with someone else that love of crafting.

Lonely Creative Seeks Engagement and Inspiring Folk

Hannah Teej | @lemonhive | FB |  Email | Ontario, Canada

About: Loves pens, creating and making stuff in rural Canada. Sounds you’ll hear from me: scribble-scribble, click-click and swoosh-swoosh (paint brushes make that noise!).

Seeking: Engaging conversation and creative connections. Those open to becoming part of a blogging circle of friends and brainstorming. Always brainstorming!

Loves: Vaguely: Creativity, potential, efficiency, improvement, social change. Specifically: Etsy, stationary, micron pens, assisting others, knitting.

Makes: I make illustrations. Whimsical images and details with swooshes and embellishments. I want to make collages, stationery, and do a craft show.

Match: Someone creative, or not. I’m open. Must like tea.

Chicagoan designer trying to break into the urban maker scene

Liz Clark | Email | Chicago, IL, USA

About: Hi! I’m a graphic designer who specializes in branding and packaging. I also take on lots of free-lance projects and the occasional pro-Bono for causes that are close to my heart.

Seeking: I would love to find a maker mentor! Someone who can show me the ropes, introduce me to a community, and be a sounding board for my project ideas.

Loves: My sweet husband, friends, fam, & faith! Doing work that matters is important to me. I especially love working with non-profits or creating projects that speak to social issues. Also eating & Paleo!

Makes: I make all sorts of print & web graphics, but I want to expand my skills- I am currently taking ceramics classes & want I to get into that big time! My other fave hobby: photography- critics welcome!

Match: An experienced maker or potter willing to share their expertise, or anyone wishing to collaborate! I know I can’t be the only maker-wannabe in Chicago 🙂

Looking for friends to share about craft

Maria Gomes | @bunnycrafterEmail | Pergine Valsugana, Italy

About: Hi, I’m Maria and I’m a crafter and blogger at Bunny Crafter. I love everything about craft but it’s a little bit lonely when I don’t find other people near me to share.

Seeking: Everyone who is interested in sharing about craft and make friendship, near or far.

Loves: Family, animals and nature, respect, and knowledge.

Makes: I want to open my own little studio where I can gather with my group of craft friends, make workshops, and sell my creations.

Match: Someone friendly and willing to talk for hours about craft and more.

Easily distracted beadaholic seeks chatty crafter pals

Helen | @KittyBallistic | FBEmail | Cheshire, United Kingdom

About: Hello, I’m Helen. I live in Cheshire in the United Kingdom. I mostly make jewellery which I sell on Etsy, but I dabble in other crafts. I used to make felt characters but have lost my sewing mojo.:(

Seeking: I would love to chat to local jewellery makers, maybe even meet up at some point. However, I am happy to chat to crafters from all over the world.

Loves: I am mad on animals, particularly cats, goats, alpacas and giraffes. I am also developing a bee obsession (I neeeed my own hive). I have a daft sense of humour, so love to share silly jokes.

Makes: I make bead jewellery at the moment, but am starting to work with gemstones and metal (hit it with a hammer!). I also want to get back into making my felt characters. And I make chocolates too…

Match: I’d like someone who has a similar daft sense of humour (see my FB page and blog), and who I can share ideas with. Must be chatty and an animal lover.

Looking for a Guiding Hand

Charlotte | Email | United States

About: I am just starting my journey to begin a site and selling. I enjoy working with a variety of material but my favorite is paper crafting followed by fabric.

Seeking: Hoping to find a match to guide and advise. To exchange creative ideas. To support and encourage each other.

Loves: What I value most is family and friends.

Makes: I enjoy creating paper and fabric projects centered around holidays, especially Christmas.

Match: Is willing to share, laugh, and enjoy crafting.

Tree Huggin’ Artist in the Southwest

Simona LaMotte | Email | Hereford, AZ

About: My art business is in its infancy although I have been a creative pretty much my whole life. I am an artist and an entrepreneur who lives conciously and values the environment in all its forms.

Seeking: Artists, carpenters, metal smiths. Anyone who is brave enough to put their creative visions out there for the world to see.

Loves: My yoga practice, environmental practices, & relationship with my family shape the person I am on a daily basis. They feed my passion &lift me up to pursue my purpose. ❤️ interior design & Starbucks.

Makes: I create home decor pieces (hand painted sings, wall hangings, etc.) using reclaimed materials. I also paint on canvas. My style is anywhere from shabby chic to Buddhist-inspired pieces.

Match: I’d like to talk with others about their business practices. I really just want to surround myself with those who live conciously and are living their passions.

Tokyo Food & DIY Blogger Looking for Creative Friends

Alyssa Wiegand | @alyssaandcarla | FB |  Email | Tokyo, Japan

About: I’m an American expat living in Tokyo. I’m a food and DIY blogger, currently writing a cookbook and teaching cooking classes in English.

Seeking: Creative people who love crafts and/or food. People who are open to taking classes, craft dates, grabbing lunch or coffee, and just looking for inspiration in the everyday.

Loves: Creativity, collaboration, friendliness, open-mindedness, desire to learn new skills and teach others.

Makes: Paper crafts, general crafting, interested in learning to crochet/knit and expand my limited sewing skills, love cooking.

Match: English speaking (doesn’t have to be perfect English!), free time during weekdays.

Giving in Vancouver

Ashley G Johnson | @ash_is_magical | FB |  Email | Vancouver, BC Canada

About: Founder & Curator of The AnthropologyOf Giving, colour lover, maker in many mediums, adore fresh ocean air & amazing coffee. I believe in connecting through mindful giving.

Seeking: I’m open to supporting, collaborating, brainstorming, guiding, making, dreaming et cetera.

Loves: People; learning who they truly are, what they are passionate about & what they value. Community & helping build a healthy one and&supporting it the best I can. History, culture & traditions.

Makes: I love making a myriad of things. I would like to start a line of greeting cards and one day write a children’s book.

Match: Open minded, fun, supportive, common sensical but creative, always willing to learn.

Mail from Minu

Natalia Andreev | @nataliaandreevEmail | Moldova

About: My name is Nata. I am a journalist from Moldova. In ’14 I started a mail project, which I truly enjoy. I find the writing process a good meditation and sending a parcel of art, quite challenging.

Seeking: For someone who would like to exchange creative letters every month.

Loves: I have a strong interest in Art History. My favorite artists are Frida Kahlo and Gustav Klimt. And yes, I am a cat person!

Makes: I make “art” parcels that I send every month #aroundtheworld.

Match: Someone who would like to become my pen pal.

We travelled the world through our screens this month to meet diverse makers of all kinds! It has been a wonderful reminder that our community is global and we can connect + create with people from all over the planet without going anywhere. Don’t forget to reach out to everyone who submitted this month and say hi, ask a question, invite them to collaborate. Visit Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3 to meet our makers, expand your network, and be part of making a community where finding friends is as easy as saying hello!

If you’ve loved Match + Maker and want to make kind, creative connections all year give what you can to become a citizen of OMHG and support our community for the head + heart + hands