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When Crafts Take Over


It starts off as a hobby, a small charm fashioned out of metal, making homebrew or a baby onesie. But then it morphs and like the mutant moth that ate Toledo; books, furniture, appliances – even family members – are rearranged to feed the creative urge. For this Makers Issue, TRIBEZA visited two crafters whose “ hobbies” have clearly taken over. While no two crafters are alike, these share one thing – the invisible thought bubble that pops up over theirheads and says, “ How did this happen?” A photographer by profession, Jackie Stence’s crafting life began as a child working on her mother’s miniature silver and black 1920s Singer sewing machine, which now sits on Stence’s dining room table. “ I made so many doll clothes on this when I was little,” she says. “ Mostly for my troll dolls. Remember those things with the crazy hair? I bet I can still tell you all their names.”

Judging by the number of cigar boxes, plastic containers and all manner of storage compartments for beads, wire, sheet metal fragments, old washers, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and various varieties of salt, Stence’s memory has to be good in order to find just the right piece of special something needed at just the right moment to complete what she calls “ my concoctions.

Lately, those concoctions are beautifully imaginative little magnetic robots or “ catbots” full of personality made of stamped, oxidized brass and copper. They’re adorned with colorful anodized aluminum wire, pieces of discarded electronics or anything Stence may come across to please her discriminating eye. “Ten years ago, as a way to keep an eye on what my son was watching, I started making earrings here in what used to be our office/TV room,” says Stence. One thing led to another, the TV moved out and Stence’s computer was soon joined by new tools including, among other things, a cartoon-look-alike anvil that practically screams ACME, a bench grinder, an industrial metal die cutter, 20-pound hammers, an embosser and typography stamps in fonts ranging from miniscule to extra large. And then there’s an oddly realistic rubber purse in the shape of a chicken — complete with golden beak, red comb and wattle — who goes by the name of Henrianne.

Stence creates these earrings and ’ bots, she says, because she can’t not create. The opinions of those who buy her Screen Door Jewelry Concoctions online or in stores matter to Stence, but not nearly as much as her own.A short drive from Stence’s home studio, the vibe at Shannon Kors’ creative space is completely different. The first thing you notice upon entering her cozy apartment is a wall-sized vintage map of Paris, setting the tone for the carefully curated style throughout her home and a fondness for all things French. Then you turn the corner.

Kors produces concert videos in her day job. In her free time, she uses her self -taught sewing skills to create more-sophisticated-than-saccharine baby and toddler clothes and accoutrements.

“‘Shannon, OMG, that’s a ton of fabric!’ is what I usually get when friends come over,” says Kors. “ Yeah, I know … I really can’t help it. I guess I’m addicted to fabric.””

“People are usually surprised I don’t have kids. By coincidence, I live next door to a day care center, so right out the window behind my sewing machine, there’s always inspiration. Actually, at times it does get a little noisy,” Kors says.

Fourteen years ago, Kors took up surfing, about the same time her sister had her first child. To ensure her niece’s newborn wardrobe was absolutely complete, she went in search of a surf -themed onesie and came up empty. “ That’s when I thought, I’ll just make it myself.” As is the case with so many crafters who’ve made that fateful statement, Kors says she had no idea it would lead her here or that she’d be selling at local retailers or online at Etsy.In the last four years, her bedroom dresser, as well as a country French chest that her TV sits on, have surrendered themselves to every imaginable color and pattern of fabric, both new and vintage. “ I used to just have big bins all over the place, so now with the wall of shelving, plus the furniture, it’s a lot more efficient.”

According to Kors, the most exciting outcome of the business occurs when she encounters a baby sporting something she’s made. “ I just love it,” Kors says. “ I can’t help myself from going over and saying ‘ Hey, I made that!’”

Web article designed by Tori Townsend

Read more from the Makers + Industry Issue | July 2016