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Craft With Conscience

'Craft With Conscience' began in early 2016 as a weekly Instagram series dedicated to sharing the work of other creatives and as a platform to openly discuss certain aspects of ethical art-making and consuming in the age of the internet and social media.  

This series arose out of my own frustrations related to seeing my work constantly copied stitch-for-stitch, sold without permission, and credited to other people.  Rather than wallowing in unproductive negative emotions, I wanted to find a way to bring this common issue to light in a positive way.  My solution was to share the work of artists, crafters, designers, and makers who I greatly admire for their originality and dedication. Initially, I shared work similar in materials or subject matter to my own, having heard the argument, "There are only so many ways to stitch plants, I'm not copying you..." one too many times.  The truth is, no matter what the medium or subject, every artist from hobby crafter to professional painter has their own perspective and voice. It takes effort to develop one's visual vocabulary and it can be disheartening when your's is taken and misused by other individuals and sometimes larger companies.

All that being said, now is an incredible time for working artists because of the vast resources of the internet including sources of inspiration, the ability to reach a large and global audience, and as a community building tool. As you may know, I love sharing my work on Instagram and following other makers. It's a wonderful way to connect with other artists, be inspired, and feel supported, but we all need to be aware of how we use these resources and what effect it may have on others.

Since the start of 2016, 'Craft With Conscience' has grown and evolved just like any other creative pursuit and has recently expanded to include short interviews with featured artists. I've asked participating artists a series of questions about their studio process, sources of inspiration, and how image-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest influence and affect them. I hope you read on to see what they have to say!

DIY Turn Your Hoop Art Into A Giant Patch Tutorial!

Sarah Benning

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As someone who makes hoop art and writes hoop art DIY patterns for a living, I get asked a lot, “But what do I do with it?” Usually my reply is to hang your new artwork on the wall, but maybe that isn’t your style or you have enough hoops on the wall already, or for whatever reason that isn’t an option for you. It certainly isn’t the only option out there, which is where this little tutorial comes in!

I have been on a real clothing embellishment kick lately—spicing up my own wardrobe and planning a few pieces that will someday find their way to my shop (PLUS I am teaching an embellishment workshop August 18th in Vermont!)—and I thought this would be a great way to re-imagine and re-purpose some of my hoop art pieces!

So, here it goes! I hope you find it useful and inspiring!

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  • A piece of hoop art! I am using my July #SKBDIY Fern Forest Pattern. You can find it here!

  • An item of clothing (like a jean jacket) or other object (like a canvas tote).

  • Sharp fabric scissors and thread snips.

  • DMC embroidery floss and a needle.

You may also find it helpful to have an embroidery hoop—I am using a 7 inch hoop (it is one inch larger than my embroidery patch)—and a pencil. You can get by without these additional tools, but having them will make the process easier!

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Complete your hoop art. As I mentioned, I used my recent Fern Forest Pattern. My PDF pattern will walk you through the steps to create your artwork. It is complete with the design itself, a suggested materials list, color guide, stitch diagrams, and step by step instructions.

Step 1: Complete your hoop art. (If you need some help with this head over  here !

Step 1: Complete your hoop art. (If you need some help with this head over here!

TIP: It is best to select a piece of hoop art that is made using smaller stitches. Very long satin stitches will sag and droop when removed from their original hoop, so be mindful! And, if you are putting your patch onto something that will be washed, be sure your original hoop art was made on pre-washed fabric to avoid any awkward shrinkage.

Step 2: Cut out your design.

Step 2: Cut out your design.

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Remove your completed hoop art from its hoop.

If you need to, you can use a pencil and the outer hoop to trace a guide for cutting around your stitching. You should have at least 1/4 inch of extra fabric around your stitching.

Use sharp scissor to cut along that guide line, being careful to avoid cutting too close to your stitches. You don’t want to undo any of your hard work!

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Use Dritz Fray Check (not sponsored or anything—just what I have on hand!) and follow instructions on the bottle to prevent any fraying along your cut line.

This stuff is runny and comes out fast, so it’s best to have a piece of cardboard or something underneath.

Step 3: Use Dritz Fray Check around the edges of your fabric.

Step 3: Use Dritz Fray Check around the edges of your fabric.

I didn’t have any cardboard nearby, so I used a sketchbook. And don’t worry! The Fray Check dries clear—at least, it did on the cotton fabric!

Step 4: Use a running stitch to place and secure your patch.

Step 4: Use a running stitch to place and secure your patch.

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Place your soon-to-be-patch on your jacket or bag (or whatever) and use a running stitch to hold it in place. This running stitch can be big and loose and will be covered up in the next step, so keep it pretty close to the edge of your fabric.

I used size 8 pearl cotton for this stitch because it was on hand, but any kind of thread will work here—a strand of embroidery floss, some sewing thread, etc.

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Use satin stitch to complete your patch. I made mine about 1/4 inch wide starting at the very edge of the fabric and going in towards my embroidery. If you need to, you can use your pencil to draw a guide line or guide lines to keep the width of your stitching consistent.

Step 5: Use satin stitch to complete your patch!

Step 5: Use satin stitch to complete your patch!

TIP: Have more embroidery floss on hand than you think you will need. You see that blue section of satin stitch? Yeah, that’s where I ran out of the yellow I was using. ALSO, using a hoop to stabilize the fabric while you are working is very helpful! You may need to iron the piece once you have finished stitching to get rid of any marks left from the hoop.

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And there you go! Now you are ready to wear your new totally amazing, customized piece out and about! Get ready for some compliments and if anyone is curious how you did it, be sure to send them this way!

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DIY Embellish Your Clothes Tutorial!

Sarah Benning

At the start of 2019 Davey and I committed to #ayearofnothingnew, which isn’t to say that we haven’t consumed—we have—but that we are limiting ourselves to shopping only secondhand (or artist made when we can!) for our clothes and home goods. And we have stuck to it pretty well! (Though I won’t lie, there have been a few cheats. Like when we found an amazing and clean king-size down comforter at the thrift store, but despite searching so hard for months never came across a king-sized duvet. I finally broke down and picked up an organic cotton one from Target.)

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Beating Burnout

Sarah Benning

I feel good in the studio these days. My brain is buzzing with ideas and plans and experiments to the point that my hands can’t quite keep up. Thank goodness for sketchbooks + notepads + getting into the habit of writing down my ideas when I have them rather than trusting myself to remember—I never do!

But I digress, things aren’t always flowing this way in the studio. I am coming out of a 6-month slump. The deepest, most intense slump I have ever experienced in the past six years of creative business ownership/full-grown artist-hood (I started this whole thing right out of art school). It was six months of feeling discouraged, and burned out, and overwhelmed, and STRESSED. My creative output is very, very directly tied to not only my livelihood, but my entire household’s livelihood. And when things aren’t gelling, it is hard.

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Success + Struggle

Sarah Benning

Most of the time I absolutely love what I do and I am definitely always grateful that it supports me (aka YOU support me and make it all possible). There are also other times when everything feels like a struggle and I feel uninspired or completely overwhelmed and lost about what's next. How will things change and grow--or shrink--in the next six years? I have no idea!

I have started the practice of identifying individual moments of success and moments of struggle in order to keep a handle on feeling and celebrating the progress and to try and analyze and move past the challenges.

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Five Ways to Prepare for a Craft Fair

Sarah Benning

Whether you are entering into your first market season as a budding creative business person or you are a seasoned craft fair pro, I want to share some of my personal strategies to staying sane while I prep for an event. I am currently in full swing getting ready for two upcoming markets just around the corner in June (The Broke Arts Fair, June 8th, Peterborough NH; and Renegade Craft Fair, June 22nd + 23rd, Brooklyn NY) and I thought there was no better time to share these tips with you than when I am in the midst of it.

This guide kicks in once you have been accepted to an event, though if you haven’t yet applied these things might still be worth thinking about ahead of time too! So here we go!

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Craft With Conscience: Lise Silva

Sarah Benning

Lise Silva is an artist living in Oakland, CA, working from her studio in Berkeley. Strongly influenced by meditation, mysticism, classic film, psychedelic illustration, surrealism, and art deco design, her obsessions include:  dream sequences, secrets, waking, sleeping, dreaming, and the fourth state. She explores the power of symbols through her work with Sacred Knots creating fiber jewelry and wallhangings with handmade cord entwined in knot designs that serve as a metaphor for life experiences, dreams, and deep desires. Through her artwear she loves creating custom pieces for weddings and other ceremonial events. She has taught traditional knotting techniques through in-person workshops and created an instructional booklet on knotting called Knot: A Book.  As an extension of Lise's exploration in symbology, meditation and visualization are a tool in her creative process. She leads guided meditations as a tool for manifestation, lucid dreaming, mental/emotional balance, creativity and relaxation.

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Craft With Conscience: Raven K. Dock

Sarah Benning

Raven K. Dock is a self-taught fiber artist based in the finicky weathered state of Florida who experiments with traditional stitches and cross stitch to transform her photographed subjects into texturized portraitures ranging for a multitude of sizes; from miniature to palm size with many possibilities in between. With hopes of exhibiting and selling her portraits, and soon to be prints, Raven continues to express ambiguity of emotion, one eye-less portrait at a time.

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Craft With Conscience: Shyama Golden

Sarah Benning

Shyama Golden’s paintings lie strategically between the cute and uncanny, inviting the viewer to discover new details through multiple viewings. They are influenced by her scientist parents and childhood exposure to Buddhist philosophy. Her work has been published by The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, Washington Post, Chronicle Books, and Penguin Random House. She has a BFA from Texas Tech University and is based in Brooklyn, NY. She has an upcoming duo show with artist Mimi O Chun on Friday Nov. 30th, 6pm, at 198 Allen St. NY, NY.

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Craft With Conscience: Mijo Studio

Sarah Benning

Mijo Studio is a forward thinking Danish-Norwegian design duo formed by Miranda Tengs Brun and Josefine Gilbert. Specializing in prints, patterns and textiles they experiment with colours and textures. Their work always starts by hand and is characterised by their curious and playful approach to the creative process. The scandinavian duo design dynamic prints, patterns and creative solutions for experimental projects and exhibitions as well as commercial collaborations.

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Craft With Conscience: Kate Tume of Mother Eagle

Sarah Benning

Kate Tume aka Mother Eagle is an embroidery artist from Brighton, UK. Self taught, she'd been practising embroidery almost her whole life before turning professional artist 10 years ago. Kate combines a variety of techniques in her work, often 3-dimensional, embellishments and goldwork feature heavily. Her work is influenced by folklore, mythology and burial customs, and she is currently working on projects around our disappearing world, and lost species. Kate also teaches textile arts privately, and has just launched the first design in a series of embroidery kits called 'Mother Eagle Textile Art Boxes'.

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Craft With Conscience: Gracie Ellison-Shortbridge

Sarah Benning

Gracie Ellison, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, has been illustrating faces her whole life; painting portraits on canvas for only a few years. She has no formal training or education, her art has always been instinctual for her and learned through years of studying the art surrounding her. Gracie almost exclusively paints busts of surly faced women; within that realm she likes to explore with color, patterns, texture, and imperfections. While her creative process is somewhat whimsical, Gracie strives for her subjects to be commanding and impactful.

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Craft With Conscience: Gabriela Martínez Ortiz of Ofelia & Antelmo

Sarah Benning

CONTACT

CRAFT WITH CONSCIENCE: GABRIELA MARTÍNEZ ORTIZ OF OFELIA & ANTELMO

October 24, 2018

GABRIELA MARTÍNEZ ORTIZ // FIBER ARTIST // MEXICO CITY

Named after her maternal grandparents, Gabriela is the textile artist behind Ofelia & Antelmo, a proposal based on two joint formats: Textile art and Wearable Art. Its visual approach is the result of the exploration of organic textures by the repetition of patterns that invites the viewer to stop, slow down and contemplate. She applies traditional textile techniques – especially hand embroidery– and transforms it into contemporary pieces. Her work pays special attention in the manufacturing times to rethink the way we consume as a protest to the speed of the XXI century. Ofelia & Antelmo embraces the fair time that the artisanal processes demand.

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Craft With Conscience: Yiyi Mendoza

Sarah Benning

Yiyi Mendoza is a ceramic artist raised in California and currently working in Upstate New York. Interested in the connections that objects can provide for us, Yiyi makes functional and decorative ceramic objects that elevate spaces and rituals. Her work is a reminder that objects hold life, beauty and purpose. Inspired by ancient cultures, architecture and the cosmos, her forms are intended to endure as relics of this time.

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Craft With Conscience: Mariana Baertl of Living Fibers

Sarah Benning

Hi! My name is Mariana Baertl and I'm the creator and artist behind Living Fibers. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru’s capital, surrounded by the countries’ traditional handmade trades, specially textile work.

I studied Fashion Design in Peru and later moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina to focus on Coolhunting, the study of “trends” and how it relates specifically to the fashion industry. I then moved to Barcelona, Spain to begin my work in Haute Couture and pattern making. My Haute Couture education taught me the level of patience and precision needed in creating handmade designs. Thereafter I got a post graduate degree in Fashion Business management from Pompeu Fabra University, in Barcelona. As soon as I graduated, I moved back to Lima, Peru to work as a fashion designer for a large retailer in Lima. It was at this company where I started experimenting with textures and textiles. I was soon in love with the art and began making fiber art pieces whenever I could find the time. After several years as a fashion designer, I decided to make a change and immerse myself into the fiber world.

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Craft With Conscience: Corrie Beth Hogg + Tutorial!

Sarah Benning

Corrie Beth Hogg is a lifelong maker. She is currently crafting realistic plants out of paper, and has recently published a book on the subject entitled ‘Handmade Houseplants: Remarkably Realistic Plants You Can Make with Paper’ . Corrie has long been inspired by nature, from growing up near a national park to a season spent working the fields at an organic farm, she has always strived to integrate the natural world into her creative process. She studies plants, interpreting their visual signatures and details into digestible, clear steps, showing those with even the blackest of thumbs how to recreate them with paper.

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Craft With Conscience: Adipocere

Sarah Benning

Adipocere, a self-taught hand embroidery artist, primarily creates their imagery for the therapeutic catharsis evoked through the medium. Their work focuses on displaying what they refer to as emotional self-portraiture while operating within the confines of a constantly developing, overarching fiction, one with small roots in reality but using motifs and symbolism to delineate concepts such as martyrdom, asceticism, existentialism, and the eventuality of death. Adipocere is inspired by their environmental science studies, focusing on misrepresented fauna and the point at which humanity intersects.

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Craft With Conscience: Vanessa Barragão

Sarah Benning

The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world. In almost every process chemicals are used, especially when it comes to the fibers treatment and dyeing. All the machinery used requires tons of energy while producing a lot of waste and disposable trash. It is extremely harmful for our world and it affects all of its different natural environments, particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmospheric pollution, warming itself up to the point that so many species get threatened.  Coral reefs, which sustain so many other creatures, is one of the most endangered.

Vanessa believes in an upcycling effort towards the right way to fight against the kind of negative mindset described above. All of the materials used come from the dead-stock from several local factories which is first cleaned and then selected to recycle and reuse in her projects. Her production is completely artisanal and handmade by using ancestral techniques, like latch hook, felt, knitting, macrame and crochet, to create her artworks inspired by the coral reefs.

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Craft With Conscience: Carmen Mardónez

Sarah Benning

Carmen Mardónez is a Chilean artist currently living in Los Angeles, California. Her work is focused on exploring how to convey movement, color, and lights through hand embroidery, finding inspiration in Northern Lights, and Telescope captures. In Chile, she worked as volunteer and professional in prisons and local governments, whereas her artwork was a personal search. Since arriving in Los Angeles, she is completely dedicated to embroidery.

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