Sunday, November 27, 2011

The  Woman's Industrial Exchange located at 333 North Charles Street, was originally created after the Civil War to allow women in need a way to earn a living from their crafts.  Today the Exchange  is Baltimore's headquarters for all things crafty with an active craft shop, soon to re-open tearoom, apartment and space rentals, and full offering of craft classes.  Shop manager Melika Carr agreed to sit down with us (okay, to sit down with her computer) to talk about the Exchange and share a few photos of crafty things you can find in the shop this holiday season.  (Full disclosure: the author if this blog is the proprietor of Baltimore Soaps and More Barbara Stratton who consigns at the Exchange.)

CCC: The  Woman's Industrial Exchange tearoom used to be known as "The longest continually operating tearoom at a Woman's Industrial Exchange in the United States." Since then its been kind of touch and go.  Is it now known as, "Formerly the longest continually operating tearoom at a Woman's Industrial Exchange that has since closed and re-opened a few times and is now re-opening in the very near future?"

MC:  It probably should even though the real heart of the Exchange has always been the gift shop.  Still, some people are highly insulted by the lack of the tearoom.  If you do miss the old tearoom - or just want to support a local business - then you should really donate to the funds being raised for its re-opening.  Please see the campaign on kickstarter here.

CCC: What exactly is aspic?

MC:  You know, I had never heard of tomato aspic until I came to work at the Exchange.   From what I now understand (and there is very little that I DO understand about tomato aspic) it is some form of punishment for children who refuse to eat their vegetables.  I'm totally kidding.  It's tomato soup gelatin.  So, you know...yum...

CCC:  What craft items for sale at the Exchange are you most excited about for this holiday season?

MC:  I am super excited about some of the new items we've seen coming into the store this season.  We already have some brand new leather bound and map journals, button jewelry, really cute wooden toys, as well as our usual knitted favorites:  pulse warmers, along with some newer creations like "smoke ring" and "bow tie" scarves.  I'm also anticipating many new items from other consignors including some new some items from a certain Ms. Barbara Stratton from Baltimore Soaps!

CCC:  Do many of your shop's consignors also sell their crafts on Etsy?

MC:  We actually only have about a handful of people that sell their crafts on Etsy.  Mostly because we at the Exchange are jealous and don't want our consignors seeing other selling venues even if they're only friends!!  Only kidding...we have one of those open relationships because we're hip like that.

CCC:  Who is your absolute favorite consignor of unscented, artisan natural soaps and other body products?

MC:  That's a tough one seeing as we only have one! ;)  Also, I believe I plugged Baltimore Soaps in the last question!  Baltimore Soaps is actually our exclusive soapmaker since we don't like having too many strong scents around some of our other merchandise.  Plus they are just plain awesome, I mean Beer and Egg Shampoo??   Why are you not in the store buying it right now??

CCC:  If you decide to have children in the future, know of any awesome area midwives who could help you with your birth?

MC:  Well, I don't know if I'm allowed to say her name but we'll just say that it rhymes with Baren Barr.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interview with Last Chance vendor Sara Gilmore of Phdstressrelief

In case you are wondering who the face is behind the cute, felted animals on the Charm City Craftivists Facebook page then let us introduce Last Chance vendor Sara Gilmore of Phdstressrelief.  Sara agreed to take a break from her busy crafting and academic schedule to talk about her life as a nerd and as a crafter.

CCC: Your Etsy shop's name is PhDstressrelief.  Are you a braniac?

SG: I like to consider myself more of a nerd. Mainly I enjoy learning and am good at science but I don't really know what I want to be when I grow up! Not to be sappy but everyone is smart and good at something, it's just a matter of figuring out what on earth it is.

CCC: How exactly did you get involved with small felted animals?

SG:  I stumbled upon needle felting after I had lost a pair of earrings made with felt. I was trying to look up how to make a pair and needle felting/dry felting kept coming up. I have to admit that I was pretty confused how one would take loose wool and poke it to death until it becomes an animal, or a bead, or whatever. It really doesn't make much sense! The animals came about because I love all things cute and soft so this seemed like an appealing medium for me.

CCC:  What are some of your goals for your craft business?

SG: It would be awesome if I was successful enough to spend more time creating and selling my items around town. I would love to own my own business sometime and if this were to flourish into that I would be thrilled!

CCC:  Do you recycle?

SG:  Yes but did you know you can't recycle pizza boxes? Took me a long time to figure that out...

CCC: Even empty toilet paper tubes?

SG:  Yes! I use every last square!

CCC:  I see you also make origami paper boxes.  Does Hopkins still offer an "Origami 101" class like the one you took in the past?

SG:   I think it's been replaced with Puppetry ... 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last Chance Holiday Craft Show

.Sure its only mid-November and the time until the holidays seems vast and full of shopping opportunities.  But wait, before you can say "shop local"  it is the second week of December, you still have a long list of people to buy for and there's not an indie craft show to be found!  Charm City Craftivists Last Chance Holiday Craft Show to the rescue!  We are happy to be partnering with the Baltimore Area Etsy Team to host this event which will take place on  December 10th, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  Twenty five of the area's best indie crafters will gather together to peddle their wares at the Maryland State Boychoir Center for the Arts located in Baltimore's beautiful Mayfield neighborhood.  We'll have some food and hot beverages for sale to sustain you and a free crafty activities to keep the kids happy.  Interested in becoming a vendor? Click here to send us your email address.