Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Weekend: Handmade Mart!


Listen, folks. I've told you once, I've told you twice, I've probably even told you thrice. The jammiest of jam craft show booths is debuting from 10am - 5pm THIS SUNDAY, May 31st, in Silver Spring (MD) at the Handmade Mart. You had that on your calendar already, didn't you?

Produced by the masterminds behind Hello Craft! and Crafty Bastards, the Handmade Mart is poised to be one of the top craft shows along the Eastern seaboard this Spring/early Summer. With over 50 vendors, including my pal Pretty Little Fings and myself (we're calling our booth Oh Pretty Little Ginger [!!!!]), there is seriously nothing better to spend your tax refund on! Tight on funds but still love crafty things? Not to worry! There's going to be food, music and hands-on workshops. Everyone of any age will love this event!

Here's the vendor list to entice you:
LOOK AT THAT! Just look at it! How could you possibly resist? Come see Oh Pretty Little Ginger at Booth #2. The map in its entirety can be found here.

You've got a fever, and the only cure is more HANDMADE. See you there, kids!

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Project: Telling a story

Etsy Admin have repeatedly suggested that the new direction of the Handmade Movement, especially as it relates to Etsy, will involve telling a story with whatever you make. Some people take this literally, creating silly and engaging stories behind each of their products...two excellent examples of this approach are Pretty Little Fings and Chasing My Star. There are other sellers who tell stories that help you imagine what you might feel like if you wear their products. Jewelry sellers invoke the mainstream fantasy that all women were girls who wanted to be princesses, and that the jewelry will take them back to whimsical and fantastical memories. Or they tell political stories, like KMStitchery, and weave a rich history of our feminist ancestors and foremothers combined with the process, which is (wo)man-made. I've tried extensively to figure out a story that I can tell with each piece of my jewelry, but to little avail. The pieces are all little parts of me...spicy, subdued, whimsical, effervescent, simple, traditional, colorful...which is why I just define my shop in the shop statement. I do make things, though, that have a story and this is one of them.

I've tweeted a few times about the "debut" of Cubicle Art, and even held an informal inquiry with my readers to see if they were something worth selling, but true to form I gave them all away before I could even add one to my shop. There are some really fantastic artists and crafters producing high quality embroidered wall art, including neawear and moxiedoll. I am too much like my grandmother though, when it comes to crafty projects, to engage my attention span for long enough to create something quite that fancy. So I elected to take something well worn and loved, a white button down shirt that I've had for years and years, and cut it into pieces. I used 3" embroidery hoops and bought a little bit of DMC floss. Vintage beads were used as "flowers" and "leaves" in some pieces, seed beads as "apples" and I chose colors that were eyecatching and vibrant. All of the flowers were done by eye/hand.

The story behind these little pieces is simple. My grandmother really never made anything that wasn't marginally practical. She made decorative magnets for the fridge, clothing, hair accessories. She grew up in the midst of the Depression where there was no opportunity to buy accessories or beautiful things. As I told my QCC friends yesterday, if she wanted her world to be anything but sad and gray, she had to make it herself. Using very inexpensive embroidery hoops, beads and thread I had on hand, and some simple designs I created myself, I've made simple, fun and affordable "art" for a place where it often feels like happiness and sunshine doesn't exist...my cubicle at work. There are a lot of crafters who still work full or part-time, some of us in humdrum gray offices, and why shouldn't we brighten up our work space with something small, inexpensive and bright!

This really strange woman snuck up behind me in line at the craft store yesterday, and inquired as to why I was buying so many tiny embroidery hoops. "What are you doing with all of those?" she sneered, as though it was any of her business. I told her I was making little tiny embroidered pictures so that people could hang them in their cubicles. She kind of huffed at me and grumbled, "well, heh, that's a lot of work" and then the cashier chuckled sweetly. She said, "well, you're not supposed to be happy at work!" We both giggled. Just like my Nanny's silly fridge magnets and poofy hair accessories, Cubicle Art is designed to bring the fun to functional things; we need not all be Dilbert and Office Space clones. The images are simple and pure, taken from things that ground me like home, apple trees and flowers. The upcycled and handmade nature of my Cubicle Art pieces are both an homage to my Nanny and a source of hope and fun for people like me...who work really hard in multiple facets of their lives and deserve a little bit of homemade sunshine now and then.

Cubicle Art will be available at the Handmade Mart on Sunday 5/31. They'll be $5 each.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vintage Friday: JaditeKate!

I think I must visit Etsy's front page at least 20 times a day. I love the collections and treasuries featured on the front page, and I find easy access to a variety of sellers and aesthetics really helpful to my creative process (but not my wallet). Tuesday, as I wandered over to the front page, I had a quick glimpse of a miraculous vintage piece of glassware before the treasury swapped to a new theme. Fortunately, I had enough time between my page refreshes to click to the shop...AND BOY DID I START SOMETHING! JaditeKate is probably one of the most beautiful and well-stocked vintage shops on Etsy that I've found yet. I mean, if someone was all, "hey Meaghan, if you could have a vintage shop on Etsy that was merely a gallery for all the stuff that would fill up your kitchen, what would it be like?" I would certainly say JaditeKate!


Milk glass, Jadite, Hazel Atlas, Fire King, Anchor Hocking, Roll-Rite, ALUMINUM...good lord this is a dream come true! To top it all off, JaditeKate has very fairly created a range of price points from the entirely affordable to the save-up-and-dream...nothing quite out of reach, but something worth stashing a few dollars away every now and then in the hopes you can snatch it up! I just have all of these visions of serving pie, and the sound of the pie lifter sliding against the ever-so-texturized surface of the thick, rich vintage glass. Or serving a glass of lemonade in a Hazel Atlas Candy Stripe tumbler, garnished with a sprig of mint. And if her For Sale items aren't enough for you, click on her drool-worthy Sold items for an idea of what this woman is capable of...this is literally the song that dances through my brain on a loop when I'm in her shop.

So please, do yourself a favor, and head over there and buy me a present. OH, ha ha. Just kidding, silly. Buy yourself a treat, drool, don a vintage apron and become the 1950s housewife you've always wanted to be...I'm projecting. Please pardon me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Prep Work: Handmade Mart Preview

So I've weighed the merits and non-merits (I've been up since 6am with Seamus, forgive me if my vocabulary is lacking) of giving folks a sneak peek at what I'm bringing to Handmade Mart. Part of me thinks that it shouldn't be predictable, as I always like to be surprised by what crafters have hidden in their back pockets, and I've had success in the past selling show-exclusive stuff. But I also, honestly, want people to come prepared to shop for the stuff they like. What to do, what to do! I'm throwing caution to the wind and showing you guys a few things I plan on bringing with me.

[Eco-felt blossoms are secured beneath vintage plastic beads in
jet black or big, warm wood beads and finished off with antiqued brass
ring. These will hang on 20" dainty brass chain.]


[Brass cab frames that I've fitted with tiny, hand-stitched images.
Available on 18" or 20" dainty antiqued brass chain.]


See you there Sunday May 31st in Silver Spring!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swan Dive: Creating fun[ction]!

clayswan on Etsy satisfies just about every quirky nook and cranny in my mind when it comes to pottery and kitchen-wares. Lyn Swan, the woman behind these richly colored delights, has created a fantastic assortment of Fiesta-inspired pots, cups, and dishware for the electic and effervescent personalities out there. I've written about my love of Fiesta-inspired tableware before, even! I'm seriously in love with this concept.

I particularly love the way many of her pieces come together...you almost feel like they couldn't be water-tight simply because you see the clay overlaps and the divots and folds that create the stability, but they are! I personally prefer an imperfect one-of-a-kind piece over a run of the mill, manufactured accessory anyway! The handles on her mugs look like they'd slip onto your finger like a ring, and there's nothing better than accessorizing yourself with a hot cup of tea or cocoa instead of a criminally-acquired diamond, right! Swan has also created an assortment of serving trays, from small to large, with the most fantastic textures and colors. Bubble wrap in chartreuse...SIGN ME UP!

Another favorite part of the clayswan collection are the little pots and jars she's created for things like "olives" and "pits" and "junk". Brilliant! I think the logical next steps include "shrimp" and "tails", "artichokes" and "petals" (is that what they're called?), and just about any other awkward finger food you'd find at a cocktail party.

The cherry on the top of this pottery sundae are her prices, which are completely affordable! I've put together a few of my favorites here and I highly suggest you head on over to clayswan to see more of her fantastic work!

Craft Showspiration: Something's Hiding in Here

In just about two weeks, I'll be making my 2009 craft show debut at The Handmade Mart. I've been busy brainstorming ideas for my table display, as I'd really like to both refine my style as it relates to shows AND develop something that's memorable, unique and reusable! I also really want to keep with a natural, kind of woodsy vintage aesthetic. So...a huntin' I've been going!

Last night I decided to peruse Flickr for crafty displays by searching for things like "Crafty Bastards" and "Pile of Craft"...I just wanted to have an idea of what I'm up against AND where I'd like to be. There's quite a variety out there, lemme tell ya! Everything from the stock black velour merchandisers to amazingly hand constructed, chiseled, painted, sanded, fancypants displays that make your jaw drop. I'm totally bummed, even more so than I already was, to find that my favorite display of all time (thus far) belongs to a duo that made an appearance at Hello Craft's Summit of Awesome a few weeks ago here in DC, where they coincidentally talked about craft show/booth displays!

Something's Hiding In Here's display is the beeknees, y'all! I don't know if it varies significantly from year to year, but the display from last year's Crafty Bastards made my crafty heart go pitter-pat. I'm including a picture here from ohsobeautifulpaper's Flickr Stream, as it encapsulates everything I love. The merch is neat and tidy, the colors coordinated and simultaneously retro yet subdued, prices easy to read and accessible, and that wood shelf/rack is TO DIE FOR. *jealous*

So...what are your plans for your craft shows this year? What do you like to see in a good craft show table? What DON'T you like to see? I'm open to suggestions and inspiration, so link away!

Recipe Tuesday: On a Wednesday...

I'm a day late (well, ok, a few weeks late) with Recipe Tuesday, but I wanted to post it nonetheless! I've been craving this delicious dish, courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis, for a few weeks now! My friend Shaun and I made this one year in lieu of a turkey for Thanksgiving and I certainly fell in love with its intense and delectable flavor and the complete ease of preparation. I have to hand it to Giada; not only are her dishes flavorful and gorgeous, even for the home cook, but they are generally easy and require just a few simple ingredients. This chicken is delicious sliced up the next day cold on a salad, too!

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Courtesy Giada DeLaurentiis via Foodtv.com

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces (giblets, neck and backbone reserved for another use) <---- (I've used just chicken breasts, just drumsticks/thighs...it's up to you!)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. Combine the vinaigrette and chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag; seal the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from the bag and arrange the chicken pieces on a large greased baking dish. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. If your chicken browns too quickly, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Place the baking dish on a burner over medium-low heat. Whisk the chicken broth into the pan drippings, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and mixing them into the broth and pan drippings. Drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley over the chicken, and serve.

This is delicious paired with Giada's Insalata Mista, which I've posted about before!

[Image courtesy Foodtv.com]

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More ponderings: Queer and craft

It's been a few weeks since my original post about diversity in craft debuted. I have to admit that I'm disappointed; not that I had any expectations, necessarily, because I think it's a common occurrence for oppressed groups to not have any faith in the oppressor to do much of anything with what they learn. That was actually the hardest lesson for me when I was navigating the highways and byways of anti-oppression, prejudice reduction work as it related to race. I was pissed off because no one was congratulating me, as our society has always congratulated people for doing what they were supposed to do. Where were my back pats? Back to the point, I'm disappointed that the only people I've really heard from are the people for whom I am speaking, more or less. Not a word from the people who can really do the work to change this.

To be honest, I know I have a lot more work to do if I'd like to see more come of this, because it's not just about people seeing me, what I'm doing and what I'm capable of as it relates to craft. I need to start seeing everything that isn't me too, and uplifting the people responsible for that work. It's hard though; I've spent innumerable hours scanning through websites like Etsy trying to find POC/WOC, queer people, fat folks, differently abled folks...to little avail. There are Etsy Street Teams, for example, for international regions/countries, and a small handful of identity-oriented teams (Bebot/Pinay Team, Muslims of Etsy, Spanglish Team, Queer Etsy Street Team, etc.).

The format of these sites is what prevents us from exposure, in many ways, as we are selling what we make versus who we are. In the case of my shop, while I may not look or feel like a felt ball, every second of work I put into my jewelry is a representation of me, my queerness, my womanhood, my femininity (or lack thereof). Which is why I said what I did about queer artists, for example, being queer and crafting queer but not necessarily coating our merchandise in glitter and rainbows. We are marginally that, we aren't that at all, or we are trying to transcend it. Craft is about countering the mainstream in so many ways, isn't it?

In my personal case, this whole "Queering Domesticity" thing is not a joke, or an overstatement, or an embellishment to attract visitors to my blog or my crafty shop. It is, in fact, my reality. It is not, in fact, a novelty. I often hear folks talk about this idyllic land with ponies and flowers, where we are not defined by what we are, but by who we are, and where labels like Gay or Disabled or Fat or Black don't mean anything, or mean less because everything is accepted and loved, rendering diversity invisible. Ok, go read that again. Now ask yourself this question...DO YOU HONESTLY THINK THAT WOULD BE FUN, nevermind realistic?!

I've found myself reading craft blogs, including Etsy pieces, with a critical and scrupulous eye. I am just waiting, bracing myself, for the reality that instead of being considered, I will be criticized for pointing something out that doesn't matter, or that has been adequately covered in the eyes of people who don't experience what I experience on a daily basis. I'm poised to have my entire reality downplayed by people who haven't walked a second in my shoes, and it simultaneously enrages and hurts me, deeply. No one, especially crafters who fit into the boxes delineated by the concept of diversity, should be ignored or fear hearing that their voice isn't appreciated or marginally motivational. The celebration of the uniqueness of the craft movement, which is visibly dominated by women, does not stop now that "feminist" has been checked off the to-do list. We have a lot of work to do. Yes, we. There is no room to be uninvolved or apolitical when the happiness and security of other people is up in the air.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update: oh ginger fabulousness

Right before Seamus came home, I updated my Etsy shop. Here's what you fancy folks might find over yonder:


Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade
ohginger.etsy.com

More posts coming soon! I have new-puppy-mom brain...aka "mush".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

He's here: Seamus Fenway OMG

Well, after close to 14 hours of driving and stopping, we're home and getting settled with our pug baby of joy. Seamus was born and raised for his first 8 weeks by Cheryl and Jay Puckett of Puckett Ridge Pugs & Dachsunds. They're about two hours south of god-awful Lynchburg, VA which was a real treat to drive through on the way down. To say that Jerry Falwell has turned that town into the fifth circle of hell is an understatement; it is RIDICULOUSLY confusing to navigate and we stopped out of sheer annoyance at a Sheetz there and feared for our life. We also happened to drive through on the day that Liberty University seniors were graduating, so not only were there young Christian bigots, but their parents and extended family as well! Nevertheless, we plotted on and made it to Seamus safe and unscathed. Cheryl and Jay are a sweet retired couple with a soft spot for pugs and dachshunds. We are very pleased with our experience!


He is the most precious of pups...full of energy and curiosity, and much more so than most puppies I've seen! He loves gnawing on fabric (specifically shirts and Em's Red Sox hat), thinks his puppy pad is a toy and attacks it with growls and gnawing, and has a special place in his heart for a bright fuschia crinkly and squeaky platypus. He carries it around in his mouth, though it is close to as big as he is!

Today we're going to take it easy. He seemed a little overwhelmed by the size of our apartment, so we set up his puppy playpen to give him some boundaries. He spent a lot of time growing up with his sisters in a whelping crate, so he feels safer confined. He likes to touch noses with people, over and over again until he knows who you are. He gnaws and snorgles on things until he falls asleep, and he likes to "chin" things like arm-crooks, his squeaky pig ball and a chew rope we got him. Em's toes are more delicious than mine, he eats like a champ, and is wholly unsure of how to navigate grass. He prefers sunshine to night, loves the color green and didn't have any accidents in his crate. His ears are softer than soft and shaped like mini-tortilla chips, and his tail hasn't yet curled. His belly is plump and soft, too. We are so so happy!

I'm going to continue to post pictures of Seamus in his Flickr stream, which you are more than welcome to visit. There are a few videos there too! Enjoy our little guy...we're already madly in love.

Also, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! I guess I'm kind of like a mom now, too!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quick Find: Airstream dream

I just stumbled upon this in the Etsy "Alfresco" gift guide:

I love the slightly industrial, whimsical, memory-tugging vintage look of this...it reminds me of the summer times when, while The Depot was being built, I used to sleep in this old trailer in my Nanny and Pop Pop's side-house/garage. You know, where the table drops down to make a bed. It sounds a lot stranger than it really was, anyway.

If I do well at the Handmade Mart, this just might have to be an early 30th birthday present (ahem...August 4th) to myself!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Update: More Seamus!

We're only a few short days away from picking up our pup Seamus, and the breeder was kind enough to send along some fancy glamor shots of him and his sisters for us last night. So feast your eyes on our little man and his darling sisters!


Only four more wake-ups until he's home!

Open Discussion: The integrity of crafts

Growing up, my Nanny (grandma) was obsessed with cross-stitched magnets to put on refrigerators. She made a variety of designs that we all thought were ingenious and adorable. In retrospect, however, I can imagine that many of her designs were derived from the innumerable little kits she picked up at Ben Franklin on sale for 25 cents each. In that same vein, my mom creates cards and uses various books and magazine as inspiration. She naturally comes up with her own techniques and colorways, and she's a big fan of recycling (or "upcycling") materials as often as she can, but many of her designs are not wholly original. And then there's me. I can spend hours on Etsy and other sites looking at beads and jewelry for inspiration. I don't necessarily think that my designs mimic (or mock) the designs of other folks selling on Etsy, but I will say that were it not for the varied and diverse collection of artisans accessible via Etsy, I would certainly lack the motivation to even imagine half the stuff I make.

This is, essentially, what I understand craft to be. There are enormous and overly complicated arguments and discussion in the craft and art world as to what "craft" really means, and for many it's a very elaborate and expensive process that leads to something of a showcase piece. These are the images that fill American craft books and magazines...not only things I could never aspire to create, but things I could never afford to create either. The intangibility of commercial, for lack of a better word, craft is perplexing to me. I am, and self-identify as, a crafter but I am NOTHING like those folks. Which leads me to a personal definition and understanding of what craft really is...my generational experiences and personal connection to craft inspires me to define it as a movement to make for your self that which is unattainable. This could mean that the commercial piece, such as a prom dress, is unaffordable. It could mean that you make your own jewelry instead of buying it. And it could also mean that you cross-stitch little bits of material and adhere magnets to the back to sell at craft fairs because you really need something to hold up the local pizza menu in style.

What I make, my crafty business, is original enough for me to sell, based on my research. But sometimes there is a fine line between producing something that fills a need or a void (my crafting) and selling it (my crafty business), and figuring out the mechanics by which you can make something to profit on top of an already existing design. I've piddled around Etsy and other craft sites trying to find a good example of what I'm trying to discuss here. There was a big hoopla recently over Urban Threads and Sublime Stitching having similar-enough designs to cause anger, strife and outrage over the integrity of the indie world and what constitutes thievery. I've seen various sellers post links to other sellers highlighting the staging, ingredients or even design of a product that is entirely too similar to something else that someone has either trademarked, patented or copyrighted. Or the victimized seller has done none of the above and they still feel outraged that someone would mimic their creativity for profit.

Here's an example I found on my own. Please pardon the bathroom-ness of my example, but it just jumped out to me as Etsy is currently featuring this item as a potential "best baby shower gift" candidate.

On the left we have Pee Pee Teepees, designed and patented by Peter Malcic for the Beba Bean brand of British Columbia, Canada. On the right, an Etsy seller I'd rather not name because I'm not the Patent Police. I think we all have a general understanding of what a patent means...it's basically someone's effort to secure protection for their design by applying and being awarded a set of rights by a state (or in this case, by two countries) that give a designer the platform upon which to say, "I thought of that, stop selling it or I'll sue you". Will Beba Bean pursue this Etsy seller who has essentially mimicked their design for profit (substantial profit too, based on their number of sales)? I doubt it. I do think, however, this is a perfect example of how we, as crafters, are often swept up into the selling machine carelessly and without guidance. When craft becomes consumerism, there are different rules by which we all must play. I think this is something that markets and middle-man should help delineate too, but that I'll save for another post.

Crafters all have to be wary of this line when we cross it...the selling line, the white checkered flag into capitalism. When we make ourselves visible and open to legal and verbal (because that hurts too) assault by patent holders and other entities that might jeopardize our business, we have to consider what motivated us to get involved in the first place. Our creativity should be our bottom line, not our ability to make less expensive versions of things that already exist in order to make money under the table of integrity. Crafters should be compelled to create whether or not Etsy and other selling website exist. And if we make ourselves accessible in these markets, we need to be prepared for the consequences. Many of us are not prepared; I am not prepared. The internet, for starters, is a valuable resource. Get going, get knowing!

Steppin' Out: I'm in a show!

It's been many, many months since I featured oh ginger wares in a real, live craft show. When the opportunity came along to apply for the Handmade Mart, I was tentative because it is produced by some of the masterminds of Crafty Bastards and I'm still unconvinced that my stuff is of that caliber. Nevertheless, I put caution to the wind and submitted my application. Instead of going it alone, my pal Pang of Pretty Little Fings and I decided to share a booth, and while this was a quick decision made in the flash of a moment (because she is undoubtedly awesome and I know we'll be wildly entertaining to each other and everyone around us DUH!), I really feel like this is a really fabulous decision in the long run.


We'll be able to keep each other company among some really High Class crafters from this area and beyond, and we'll also have the opportunity to share space and feel out what it might be like to, I don't know, share a space for Crafty Bastards (I dunno...haven't asked yet!). Pang's craft is so whimsical and refined, and I feel honored to share a booth with her for any event. I hope to see all of you and then some at the Handmade Mart in Silver Spring on May 31st. More specific details will be forthcoming, but please visit their blog and website for more details if you're interested!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Update: New stuff at oh ginger

I've been trying to focus on my shop as much as I can lately, and specifically on adding more felt creations because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! The Spectrum collection was originally featured in my First Giveaway and I've finally added them to oh ginger. The listings are condensed by "size" so please make sure you look at all of the pictures in the shop to see the full, well, spectrum of choices! Also, look for more Dottie colors before the end of the week!


Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade
ohginger.etsy.com

Diversifying Craft: Where are we on Etsy?

As with most things exciting and new (friends, lovers, shoes, blogs), there is a honeymoon period wherein one is so overly smitten with the newness and the awesomeness of something, that they fail to critically examine the merits of the "thing" with which they are so enamored. Sometimes blogs aren't what you hope they are, people are often disappointing and shoes can be so incredibly beautiful but feel like you're walking on shards of glass when you wear them for more than a moment or two. These analogies are all bringing me to a discussion of something specific...in this case, Etsy.

For many weeks, I've been stewing over my thoughts and feelings on the subject of diversity at and on Etsy. I'm even in the process of writing a proposal to them for a piece on queer crafters with my queer and crafty cohort Bee Listy. Nevertheless, the general lack of diversity on Etsy is an important thing to discuss. We get caught up in the meta-discussions of diversity, or how lack of diversity in the craft/art community affects our bottom line, but we don't talk about how the culture of diversity is, in fact, lacking at Etsy. And when I say diversity, I mean inadequate and poor representation, both in numbers and Etsy-derived exposure, of people of color (POC), queer people (LGBTQ), disable people, fat people and other victims of the oppressive machine we call modern day patriarchy.

It would seem to me that the people responsible for subverting industrially-made consumerism, and the people committed to changing the face of capitalism, would also be committed to expressing the diversity that presently exists on their website AND ALSO charged with the intent to increase the degree to which Etsy is diverse. I found a website, QuantCast, who has produced what appears to be informal and roughly estimated statistics on Etsy's demographics (whether these statistics are accurate, I cannot say, but they *seem* right). Some of the most jarring statistics are also wildly unsurprising - Etsy visitors are 90% white, 29% make $60-100K annually, and 50% have attended some college, and given what we regularly find in Etsy's outreach modules...The Storque, the front page treasuries, and even in their special posts on Featured Sellers and Quit Your Day Job. What we see, more often than not, are the faces and products of white, heterosexual crafters and artists. Additionally, if we consider the roots of handmade crafts, from weaving to jewelry to dolls and clothing, they are often derived from ancient, traditional and intensely ritualistic cultural processes developed by people and communities of color. This opens an entire discussion on the horrors of appropriation in art and craft communities.

Maria Thomas, Etsy CEO, gave a talk this weekend at Hello Craft's Summit of Awesome and I listened to the majority of her talk via Etsy's Virtual Labs, as I was unable to attend. She highlighted the goal, if you will, of Etsy looking into the future...bringing customers to the existing and soon-to-be converted sellers. I argued in the chat platform of the Virtual Labs that it wasn't so much Etsy's responsibility to bring me sellers, so much as it was their responsibility to make their hosting site (for lack of a better description) more accessible to shoppers and vendors alike, leave the promotion in the hands of the sellers, which in turn would bring sellers more business. If the primary outreach regarding Etsy features and is promoted by white people, is Etsy truly focused on bringing a diverse customer base to the sellers currently on Etsy? Or are they just hoping to bring people with money in their pockets? I honor the reality that capitalism...the enduring quest to find a buck...fuels projects and concepts like Etsy. But at what costs?

When searches render few results for blog posts about heritage months and featured sellers generally fit a profile other than married, white and female, this paints Etsy as a one-trick pony. I don't want this for Etsy, and I imagine many other people (even those that are married, white and female) don't want this either. Because Etsy is so heavily influenced by its sellers and shoppers, I believe it is our responsibility to speak up. I plan on constructing a proposal for The Storque, about queer crafters as Pride season approaches. I also make a general encouraging and enthusiastic demand that Etsy internally examine this lack of diversity and charge themselves with repairing it. Additionally, I ask that POC, LGBTQ, disabled, fat and other crafters that have been and are marginalized within the big bad world and the craft/art world to stand up and share your experiences and your craft. Recently I have tried to find queer/LGBTQ crafters to very little avail; either we don't exist, we are afraid to speak up, or we can't find a connection between our craft and our identities (because, in the case of LGBTQ crafters, we don't all make rainbow-themed things). But the connections are limitless, as our craft is an expression of our self, and we deserve the opportunity to shine as brightly as everyone else.
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