Category: Updates & News

Maritime Makers #CraftParty

Maritime Makers, How to Fold a Paper Boat printable instructions by Susan Black Design

Maritime Makers is a new volunteer collective founded when advocates of handmade from Atlantic Canada met at the Etsy Team Captain Summit in Toronto at this February. We saw a need for one main portal to connect the work of Maritime makers and maker culture in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland/Labrador, and Prince Edward Island similar to how OMHG has connected makers globally since 2010, so of course I volunteered to help build and organize it. Along with the help of leaders Fatema (NS), Suzanne (PEI), Janie (NB) and our very own OMHG contributor Alison (NL) we launched the Maritime Makers website this month and are working together to grow our local maker movement!


The internet has expanded many of our markets and blurred borders between countries and provinces leading to more opportunities for makers both locally and globally. Maritime Makers intends to show the value in Maritime provinces creating an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming definition of regional cooperation, connecting business, organizations, and advocates on every level to strengthen and support our region. Our first collective project is uniting communities, Etsy sellers, and small business supporters to collaborate on Etsy Made in Canada events in each of our provinces.

As volunteer co-captain of the Halifax Etsy team I’ve also been helping to organize fun accessible projects like team meet ups, designing the new website, and our community #craftparty this weekend at Wonder’neath Artist Studios where we are making a rising tide of folded paper boats to demonstrate how makers and the maker movement are an economic force that can lift us all up. Our goal is to make and install over 1000 unique boats made by many hands from recycled papers during our market this September 26th.


Huge thanks to my brilliantly talented dear friend and neighbour Susan of Susan Black Designs for collaborating on illustrations for this project and a printable tutorial for folding your own paper boats!

Not in Halifax or Canada but still want to participate in this project? Print out the instructions and fold up your own boat! Boats mailed to me will be installed along with ones made during our craft parties and at open craft tables during our market. How neat would it be to show that makers around the world can work together to make art and social change? Boats can be sent by September 20th to:

Maritime Makers, c/o Jessika Hepburn PO Box 1690 Lunenburg, NS B0J 2C0, Canada

I’m excited and honoured to have these opportunities to serve makers directly and improve the quality of life right here in my own backyard. To follow along with this project, learn more about Maritime Makers, or get involved visit our new website!


2015 Maker’s Retreat with Oh My! Handmade


Gather to make more community, kindness, comfort, friendship, family, warmth, delight and creativity.

When we gather with the intention of nurturing honest connection we make room for real magic. The requirements for making magic are simple: a warm welcome, a beautiful place, kind diverse people, whole local foods for the body, and nourishment for the head, heart, and hands. Our gatherings mix these ingredients up with gentle leadership to leave everyone totally confident we are all makers with everything we need to make more goodness in the world. This tangible magic of creation and community isn’t the sparkles and fairy dust kind but the type that fills us up with warmth and wholeness that we can radiate in our lives and work.

We live in a busy chaotic world full of hustle, our gatherings are an invitation to slow down and savour time well spent. Ours is a quiet revolution built on a movement of moments and small steps with others who value the art of handmaking a life. Curl up into lazy days and conversations that can unravel and reknit themselves into a community. Cultivate contentment and fullness and family through sharing food, creative exploration, story sharing, and group projects.

Hosted at the non-profit owned and completely handmade Hollyhock campus our retreats are open to anyone of any age who makes things, makes change, or just wants to make more goodness in their lives. Let’s bring our families, engage our young people, nurture our elders, inspire our children and ourselves to live full lives, rich with meaning and making.

Register for the 2015 Maker’s Retreat

OR CALL HOLLYHOCK at 800-933-6339

If you are unable to attend due to financial reasons consider applying for the Hollyhock scholarship fund or using the contact form below to contact us with your story to see how we can support you.



An internationally renowned centre for learning and well-being, Hollyhock impacts personal, professional and social development through over 100 programs. The spectacular natural setting on Cortes Island, British Columbia is an ideal backdrop for transformative experiences. Hollyhock offers a comfortable and safe environment where people can deeply connect with others, gain creative insights, and renew hope that a better world is possible. Founded in 1983, Hollyhock is Canada’s leading centre for lifelong learning, but you can also think of it as a “refuge for your soul”, a place that allows you access to what matters, or simply time to rest, play and achieve wellness in BC. Learn more about Hollyhock.



As  the founder of Oh My! Handmade Jessika Hepburn has been connecting the head, heart, and hands of the handmade community since 2010. Jessika sat on her first board of directors at 9, founded an arts empowerment camp for inner city youth at 19, and started her first handmade business as a young mom in 2003. A leading voice in the handmade community Jessika has spoken on the maker movement at events across North America and supports makers, creative entrepreneurs, small businesses and companies like Etsy, Bamboletta Dolls, and Playful Learning, while coordinating programs, events, and retreats for makers across Canada all from her 200 year old home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Learn more about her right here. 


 About Our 2014 Retreat

Our events are built on the belief that if we put our heads, hearts and hands to work we can make anything but if we put them to work together we can make a movement.

We know that we do our best work when no one is the expert but everyone’s expertise is valued and openly shared. Have you ever gone to a workshop and just wanted to spend time really talking with the instructor? Or noticed the juiciest part of most events happens in hotel rooms or over dinner when ideas are thrown on the table and collaborations sparked? We all have unique talents and experiences to share and the power to do just about anything when we cooperate.

As a group we wrote the agenda, led the workshops, and covered vast stretches of conversation about making from the theoretical to the intimate details of what we’ve learned as makers. We made trips to the beach, walks in the woods to forage for inspiration, time to learn calligraphy, papier mache, needle felting, fibre + dye experiments, late nights crafting and talking around the campfire, watching double rainbows and weaving lifelong friendships.

Many of us can feel disconnected from who we are and our place in the world, the role of makers and creators is to show how we can weave those common threads into one blanket by handcrafting lives and communities rooted in creativity and compassion. Making a life of meaning from pieces of our soul is hard work, we need community to patch where we’ve worn thin and remind us that we are all connected, our 2014 retreat did just that and left us all feeling renewed with a reinforced conviction that making matters.

Click here to read Arianne’s participant recap of our retreat on Academy of Handmade 

Click here for photos and a brief summary of our week. 

Give What You Can: Why community is not for sale & citizenship is for everyone

If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.  John O'Donohue,  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

The community we’ve worked to create here has always been a culture of giving and openness. The people we’ve gathered are some of the most generous and open you will find anywhere, if you are kind we like you already. We are an example of how handmade can connect us across all sorts of divides to make meaning together. It has been a grand experiment in finding a common language of goodness and how to create a community without excluding anyone.

Things have changed since OMHG began and while we’ve grown and evolved the goal is still welcoming everyone to experience what the ethics of handmade community are. Not simply ‘handmade’ as a consumer good, but the patiently cultivated handmade goodness that is the centre of a life or community of integrity. Two hands can make something, a hundred hands can make anything, all our hands working with purpose and unity can make the world whole. This is the fundamental principle behind Gandhi’s teachings on the “khadi spirit” and why the spinning wheel became a symbol for non-violence, independence, and weaving self-reliant communities.

We started off meeting on Twitter every week then created an online gathering space so we could connect and share knowledge. At that time there was little available and we sold memberships to keep the doors open and lights on while investing in collaborations. Unfortunately this still created a structure that automatically had people on the outside and people on the inside, this is by definition not true community.

Lately a new generation of businesses have sprung up selling community and marketing to our need for belonging. As the word community becomes more popular it is hard to know what it means to people or where to gather with anyone anymore. Who is in it for community and who wants to hustle you? You can pay to hang out with people like you but real diverse places to connect are getting scarcer. We’ve never tried to protect our model because we always wanted it to be shared freely. Emphasis on freely.

While some of me thinks it is total ego to imagine other communities have been inspired by our experiments the rest knows it doesn’t matter if they have. If I know better I have to do better, even if no one is watching. Thankfully dear companions are along for this journey and to share the wisdom of their heads, hearts, and hands.

Slowing down has made these things clear:

  • Community is a gift. It is not a commodity or a club, and gifts are meant to be given. 

  • Citizenship is for everyone. To be a citizen is a choice and a responsibility that is not determined by how much you can pay but by how much you give of yourself to others.  

  • Cooperation is only possible if we turn away from competitive models and create new ones that value any contribution. 

I do not want to be part of systems that make community a commodity or a citizenship that is not for everyone. Seeing community being sold and really looking into why that is uncomfortable by talking with so brilliant minds this year helped make things clear.  A community that only values the investment of a few is a segregated one, on or offline, same thing. We need to open doors instead of close them and give each other more opportunities to share our gifts freely and succeed simply or we will continue to segregate the internet and confuse clubs with community. The only answer is to keep trying to create models that are a joy to have other people borrow and share, something inline with the ethics of community and that brings us together to collaborate instead of in isolated competitive groups. We can repeat old models of us vs. them or try pioneering new ways of putting people before profit, even before our personal comfort.

Our new payment/citizenship structure is super simple:

Give what you can. 

Give What You Can: Community is not for sale, citizenship is for everyone

Everyone who wants to be a citizen and help make a community for the head, heart, and hands is invited to join us. We want to create a multicultural, multigenerational community full of all ages and abilities who make goodness together and share their collective knowledge. If this is important to you, come and be welcome! We are eliminating membership fees and are simply asking you to give what you can, when you can. Give financially, but we also value contributions of time, love, and support. Change how much you give when you need to and always have a place where your contribution is valued.  In May at our next Annual General Party we’ll see if this experiment in giving works or fails and share the results with you as always.

Give what you can and register as a citizen in our community for the head + heart + hands. 

You have every blessing to use this idea. Let’s start a new trend of trusting your offering is of such value you can afford to give it away to anyone who needs it. Rebel and give away what you have, even if you only have a little bit of goodness. Reach out to everyone and invite them to participate. Give up control of your gifts and offer them to whoever could use a hand, this is what it means to be of service. Continue to trust those who value what is good will find value in you and invest in your gifts. Imagine an economy of expansiveness that invested in our gifts so we could give them away? 

So our community will do our part to lead by example and show community isn’t something to sell, it is something to give.

Cheers to giving what we can, when we can. To giving up possession and control so we can share all that is good within us, with each other.