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Sweet Paul Makerie 2017: Making & Creating in Brooklyn

by Tona Bell July 05, 2017 3 min read

Sweet Paul Makerie 2017: Making & Creating in Brooklyn

Finally, able to share with everyone a magical weekend of making in Brooklyn. I was fortunate to attend my 5th Makerie, a creative retreat designed by the amazing Ali DeJohn.  It was the 3rd Sweet Paul Makerie for me, which is a collaboration with the luscious Sweet Paul Magazine.  The Makerie is a weekend of creative making, nuturing and celebrating.  Ali and Paul dreamt up another oh-so-cool retreat in the heart of Gowanus, an arty neighborhood in Brooklyn.  

Opening reception was held at the studio and shop of Lotta Jansdotter who I was lucky enough to take a workshop with at an earlier retreat.  It was so great to see where she plays and creates.

Gowanus - Makerie

Anticipation of spending two whole days taking four workshops and eating delicious food with cool, smart people is what fueled me through many late work nights.  Being there reminded me why I started this business and to be brave and take risks in life.

Here are the workshops I took, it was almost as if they were created for me, as it was a dream come true:

sashiko japanese mending
Sashiko Mending
- Taught by Katrina Rodabaugh, she lives and breathes textiles and social responsibility. Sashiko is the art of Japanese decorative stitches to reinforce items. This mindful mending extends the life garments and reminds us to not be wasteful and disposable.  We did a sampler tea mat for practice and finished with mending a piece of clothing we wanted to keep rather than throwing away.  The white stitching against the blue of the denim is quite striking.

Alternative Botanicals
- Taught by Melissa Martin - Julien of the Proper Flower, she is also part of the Matthew Robbins team.  While I missed not taking a class with him this year (hope he comes back next year?) She was a ray of sunshine and made us all have a dance party in the middle of making!  We re-thought succulents and wearable botanicals.  Rings, pins, headbands, bracelets and more, we learned to make floral jewelry and discover some alternative centerpieces.  The best part was working on such a tiny scale.  Designing for a pin or ring is definitely an exercise in restraint. 

bobbin lace

Bobbin Lace
- Taught by Elena Kanagy-Loux, who founded the Brooklyn Lace Guild, this was my favorite class for sure. It was also the class I was the most nervous to take.  It looks complicated and hard.  I released my fears and jumped in.  Elena was an excellent teacher and I actually took to lacemaking like a fish to water!  I have always loved lace, my mom used to tat and it is pretty advance in my mind.  Bobbin lace is sort of like macrame but really tiny.  It took 3 hours to make a 5 inch by 1/2 in piece you see here!

Coptic Book Binding
- So I saved the best for last. This was a book binding class that was one of the most comprehensive I have taken.  I especially like the coptic stitch because the books lie flat and you can see the exposed spine.  Delicate yet strong, the stitching shows it is handmade. Taught by the incredibly talented Natalie Stopka, I wish I could have taken all of her classes.

There were several surprise speakers, one was Genevieve Gorder, an interior designer who spoke on trends and the Fabulous Beekman Boys!  I really miss their show, they have had quite the journey and are now featuring local makers in their fabulous shop in Sharon Springs and online.

The entire event was held at 501 Union (an stylish event space) and the Textile Arts Center, just down the street.  If you are looking for amazing and unusual classes, this is the space for you. And if you are looking for a national/international creative retreat, The Makerie is for you. They have events in Boulder, Colorado as well as in the New York area with Sweet Paul.  To all the sweet and creative people I met, thanks for playing and see you next year!

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