Tag Archives: helliemae’s

Craftcation Review

I’ve been meaning to write my thoughts about Craftcation, but it’s been hard. Life happens and soon your to-do list is longer than its ever been and you’re grasping for moments of time to get it all out.

For me, Craftcation was a getaway. I needed a chance to decompress and breathe in sea air. In Ventura, you can do that. The ocean is practically sitting next to you and the calm that comes with taking it in was worth the trip.

I was, admittedly, very excited to attend an event that was focused on the crafters, makers, and those who appreciate handmade in all its incarnations. I was also excited to hear, from the mouths of successful crafty bloggers and business folks, how to make my business better.
And I got some of that. To put a finer point on it, Craftcation didn’t meet all my expectations.

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Some of the high points of Craftcation?

  • Ventura! What a city! I fell in love with it. It’s super walkable and it’s regenerating. Restaurants, stores, and the beach make it a place worth exploring. 
  • The soap making workshop! I’ve been wanting to teach soap making, but didn’t know how. This workshop gave me some guidelines. Still, I might talk to the lovely people from Clean Getaway for more pointers – they are professionals!
  • Gustavo Arellano‘s workshop on marketing yourself through media outlets. This was an insightful and eye-opening presentation that confirmed my belief that promotion comes more from having passion for what you do and letting that guide your path.
  • The Ventura food tour! Not only was this a walking tour allowing me to become further familiar with the landscape of Ventura, but at each stop we got to taste cheese, chocolate, wine, olive oil, and pastries. We got to meet the fine small business owners of Ventura that take a shared, unique pride in making their city amazing. Definitely inspiring to see people making their dreams materialize.
  • Sé Reed. This lady! Holy moly! A phenomenal presentation on SEO from the perspective that being honest and creating content for your community is better than taking shady shortcuts. I would love to see Sé speak again about all the other amazing work that she does! Follow her on Twitter or Facebook to connect with her!
  • Evan Kleiman‘s cooking class. This impassioned class had me reeling! Evan is the most divine representation of simple cooking. Everything we made was easy – no foams or fuss. It was honest food that got my engines revved for cooking at home. As an aside, Evan is a delightful person who shared personal stories about her travels and family and that insight into her world endeared me to her forever.

Low points of Craftcation?

  • Registration for classes was a bust. I was disappointed to learn that attending classes bore costs beyond the admittance fee for workshops that quickly filled up. As you see above, I got in to ONE craft class (the soap class) – and I wouldn’t have gotten that had I not had the time to jump on registering right when registration opened. I can’t imagine the number of people that were literally relegated to the leftovers , that might not apply to their interests, because there was no room for them in other workshops. 
  • Some of the presentations were disappointing. Presenters had a tough time staying focused on the subject matter, seemed unprepared, or they talked about something entirely different than what they were supposed to be presenting on. One class in particular disappointed me as it seemed more an opportunity for the presenter to share their new book than talk about their successes in the world of blogging.
    I know it can be difficult to get up in front of a room of people and present, but most of the individuals that were attending Craftcation were there for what they deemed valuable information that they could apply to their own businesses. It’s a let down to expect expertise and get something else entirely.

Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s hard to plan an event of this size and I’m also deeply aware of the growing pains that come with the popularity of an event like this. I’m positive that the planners of this event wring their hearts and souls into Craftcation and there is no way that my experience is a sole representation of other attendees and their experiences.
That being said, I’m not sure I would go to Craftcation again. The experience, on the whole, was not life changing. But that’s just me.

I can’t leave out that I may or may not have experienced a ghost at my AirBnB. If you want to know more about that – Ask me!

I want to make explicit mention of my Denver cohorts during this trip – Ellen (Helliemae’s) and Lindsey and Mikel (Clean Getaway). These people made my trip tons more fun. We talked, ate, drank whiskey and without them…I wouldn’t have had half the fun I did. So, thanks to them!

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Denver Craft Ninjas – Best Projects of 2012

Everyone counts down their favorites at the end of the year and we felt that we couldn’t let the 2012 slip by without mentioning our favorite projects! It’s even better when we share them with experts that bring their passion to the project!


Domino Pendants
One of the REAL hits of 2012! This project inspired Ninjas to grab their own alcohol inks and make a million domino pendants until the cows come home!
We love when one project spawns many Ninjas to go home and get to craftin’!

Sugar Skulls
After three years of making and sharing this sugar skull project, we’re darn near experts! And so are you! Every time you do this project, you show better and better decorating skills! Even better, we’re so thrilled to see return crafters come with their families and share this rad event!

Sew It All Felted Sweater Mittens
Sew It All Magazine is an outfit with some real deal craftin’ ladies! And we had the honor of working with them and learning from them. I’ve broken out my mittens this winter and found them to be so darn warm and cozy!

Pinterest Tested Tie Dye Tights
Before our pal Amber hightailed it to Seattle, we got to play with this really fun tie dye tights project! If you love tights, this is the project for you to brighten up your collection and add a DIY splash to your wardrobe!

Canning with Helliemae’s
We love Helliemae’s! It’s just that simple. And when Ellen opened the factory’s doors to Ninjas to learn how to can chutney and make quick pickles, we fell in love all the more! The space was perfect for cooking up a storm and everyone left with tasty stuff.

Pasties with Ooh La La Burlesque
A little risque, a little naughty – hanging out with the rad ladies of Ooh La La Burlesque is a reminder that we can all use a little risque in our lives! Not only were these super talented burlesque mamas totally hilarious, but they were great teachers too!

Upcycled Jewelry with Colorado Bead Co. 
We have several love affairs with local crafty businesses…and Anne at Colorado Bead Co. is definitely one of them! Anne let us take over the joint and provided us with all kinds of lovely beads and baubles and taught us to make some really cool upcycled necklaces with soda cans! Is there anything they can’t do over there?

Felt Wreath
This project was a tedious and, at times, frustrating stuggle. But it turned out beautifully. And that’s the reward! Beauty! After seeing the project on Dig This Chick, we realized we had to try it!

We hope that, in the new year, you’ll try something new! We hope that in the new year, you’ll join us for all kinds of crafty good times at Three Kings Tavern! We’re planning and plotting and have some really cool partners lined up for 2013!
Happy New Year, Ninjas!

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Filed under Craftin' Around Town, Ninja Events, Ninja Tutorials, Pinterest Tested

Crafty Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Thanksgiving is actually a really great time to think about the crafters and artisans that you know. And I happen to be lucky enough to know A LOT of really talented, up and coming folks that are creating and sharing their work.
And for that, I’m thankful. It’s a huge risk to take your labor of love and expose it to the world! It’s hard to invite people to see your work and possibly critique your work. But it’s bold attempts that allow for real growth.

With Colorado Creative right around the corner, I wanted to talk up a lot of my favorite local businesses and local crafters and artisans that you should consider when purchasing gifts this holiday season.
It’s so much more than just the empty sentiment of “shop local” when you know crafters personally – when you know their kids, their partners, and know their passion. Buying local means more when you know how much is mixed up in the process of creating.

Consider this when you buy your gifts this year and, really, all the time.
Below, we’ve listed some of our faves and we hope that you might list some of your own! Do it! In the comments!

Local Business:
Wild Yarns
Ink Lounge
Fabric Bliss
Low Brow
Pandora on the Hill
The Colorado Bead Company

Horns Up Knits
Bitter O’Clock
Donna Diddit
Teeter Totter Tot
Mama Zshanna
Lucid Weaves
Anne Franklin Designs

Nom Pod

Happy Accident
Sailor Made Goods

Some of these folks will be at Colorado Creative! Don’t forget to mark your calendar for December 9th!
We’re thankful that Denver has such an exciting and diverse collection of risk takers and makers!
Happy shopping!


Filed under Craftin' Around Town, Ninja Events