Locals + Culture

Craft Lake City | Be Dazzled

7/24/2014 | Katie Bald
Kerri Fukui

If SLC is a deck of Bicycle Playing Cards, Angela Brown is undeniably a facecard [we’re gonna hazard a guess and say she’d be the Queen of Spades]. Miss Brown has been holding her own against the boys club of Salt Lake hierarchy for over a decade--and she currently manning the helm at not one but two of SLC’s most brag-worthy local operations: SLUG Magazine and Craft Lake City. You probably know Angela best as the patron saint of SLUG Mag--she took the wheel in 2000 [for those not in the know: 1. Are you serious? and 2. SLUG stands for Salt Lake UnderGround. Founded in 1989, it’s one of Utah’s longest-running independent magazines]. The rebellious rag is known for touting the tunes of local bands, showcasing local movers/shakers [great minds, yada, yada…], and reviewing national products, films, and albums, but in 2009, Angela snatched up some knitting needles and started stitchin’ up something new: Craft Lake City. What began as another well-liked SLUG event [like Summer of Death or Localized] quickly snowballed into its own bedazzled beast.

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it was local. It was one of kind. And it was really fucking cool.

Like most great things, Craft Lake City comes from humble beginnings. A lover of the #craftlyfe herself, The Lady Brown was first inspired to create a community-centric crafting event when she visited the Renegade Craft Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Having grown up in Salt Lake City--where a young Angela remembers “not having a lot of fun things to do”--she promptly fell head over heels for the idea of a community-specific crafting bonanza.  She decided it had to be something big. Something outdoors. Something that showcased local music. Something that supported local artisans by lowering booth costs. Something that helped crafters of all classifications market themselves and their wares. From the ground up, the idea for CLC was always exactly what it promotes within its [metaphorical] walls: it was local. It was one of kind. And it was really fucking cool. In the festival's second year, Angela was joined by SLUG Marketing Manager, Karamea Puriri, who came with a few ideas of her own. In 2011, the gals had two inspired thoughts: 1) this mustn't simply be a once-a-year endeavor, and 2) we need to find a way to combine DIY and hooch [two of our very favorite things]...

a void that could only be filled with yarn and popsicle sticks and hot glue.

Setting up a craft night at a bar seems like such a no-brainer that we can’t believe we didn’t think of it ourselves, and ‘twas this handstitched Christmas ornament-making at SLC drinkery, The Garage, that begat the DIY workshops that would blossom into solid, year-round, working relationships with West Elm [yes, the West Elm] and NHMU. Attempting to stitch together tiny pieces of felt between whiskey shots at the Beck Street bar soon turned into hordes of craft-crazed folks, thereby tipping off the gals off that there was a definite void that needed to be filled in our city--a void that could only be filled with yarn and popsicle sticks and hot glue. Angela and Karamea have maintained an absurdly awesome level of dedication to the DIY movement on a year-round basis with the aforementioned workshops. Next in line: spooky bone wreaths, followed by chocolate making [details in the links below]. They've even got a series of workshops specifically for kids,  Really doh…this is year-round learning fun up in here.

“Etsy is great, but you can’t feel it. It isn’t physical”

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the wares at CLC are all glitter glue and embroidery [though there is some pretty dope embroidery work, if we do say so ourselves]. Angela and Karamea have stressed an interest in technology-based workshops and artisans, as well. In 2012, they introduced the Science and Technology element, featuring local DIY Engineers who make all sorts of technical items ranging from robotics and 3D printers to LED lighting displays and loads of other cool stuff. In fact, the organization has seen a new logo in the last few years, thanks to this festival addition--perhaps you’ve noticed the adorable cartoon robot emblazoned on nearly all things CLC [including their locally-made tote bags for this year’s fest--check the video on the site to see the process]. This year marks the DIY fest’s sixth, but don’t expect the same old dog and pony show. “Things change, circumstances change, so the lineup is always changing,” says Angela. The artisans range from soap makers to textilers to bakers to painters to welders. Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. You name it. The Craft Lake City DIY Fest is notorious for presenting you with all the amazing things that you had no idea that you couldn’t live without [a formidable problem for our pocketbooks, but not so much for that shelf that was missing a hubcap painting of Gene Simmons]. “Etsy is great, but you can’t feel it. It isn’t physical,” explains Karamea. “You don’t get to the meet the people that made it, and say ‘I’m supporting you’.” According to Angela, Craft Lake City aims to show local artisans that “they don’t have to leave SLC to be successful. They don’t have to move,”--wait for it--“You can create here and invest in our community to make it better.” Be still our home-lovin’ hearts. We knew we liked this girl.

Remember, only you can save SLC from a bummer summer

In so many words, Craft Lake City is about giving opportunities and exposure to those who might not have them otherwise. It’s about being an advocate for the community and keeping it local. It’s about breaking down the lame stereotypes surrounding our rad city and showcasing the badass, creative people that live here. Says Angela, “I love hearing success stories of artisans becoming entrepreneurs from this experience.” With projects in the works with the Natural History Museum of Utah and West Elm, color us equal parts green with envy and tickled pink over the massive strides these two trailblazing dames have made over the last six years. Last year, the two-day fete pulled over 30,000 people [!], so it’s safe to say that something’s working. As of this year, Craft Lake City is officially a 501(c)(3) charitable organization [aka they’re an official, on-paper, legit non-profit], and the gig runs almost solely based on the help of volunteers. For those of you that feel like surrounding yourself with obscenely talented locals for an afternoon or two, take a second and shoot on over to the Craft Lake City website [below] to find out how to help. Remember, only you can save SLC from a bummer summer; chip in and do some good for your ‘hood.

Craft Lake City | Friday, Aug. 8th, 5:00pm to 10:00pm + Saturday, Aug. 9th, 12:00pm to 10:00pm | The Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main St.

For volunteer information, click here | For ongoing workshop information, click here

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