Sweet Paul Makerie 2017

A few weekends ago, I was off to Brooklyn NY with my new suitcase in hand, to attend the Sweet Paul Makerie Retreat. Last year my friend Cathie (of Tinsel + Trim) went to the retreat in Philly. We had such an amazing time that as we were walking out of the last day of the retreat we said to each other “we are DEFINITELY coming back next year.” It came at a time in the year when I needed time away to just relax and invest in me. This year it comes on the heels of a few busy work months and so again…it’s come at the right time.

This year’s retreat started off with a Friday evening cocktail reception at Lotta Jansdotter‘s Brooklyn studio. Meeting her was quite the treat. She was truly lovely and welcoming! We mingled with other SPMR attendees, sipped on some cocktails, and nibbled on some Bien Cuit bread and cheese.

This year the Sweet Paul Makerie was at 501 Union space. It was such a lovely venue.

My first workshop Saturday morning was screen printing with foil with Hannah Shultz.This project had my name written all over it…GOLD bling! :) We trotted over to the Textile Arts Center a few blocks away for this workshop.

I haven’t done silk screening since my summer school stint in elementary school. :) We got some instruction, then we were let loose to create our master pieces. I was a little stumped at first on what to create, but then with a little inspiration I created a geometric tree and printed it on some light gray fabric I bought at Purl Soho earlier that week. I LOVE the way it turned out! And what to do with it? Make it into a pillow of course. (My house is beginning to look a little like a pillow shop.)

In the afternoon I took a leather bracelet class from the wonderful Bags by Elke. I am a fan of Elke and her beautiful bags and leather goods she creates. I purchased one of her bags at last years Sweet Paul Makerie and it’s one of my all-time favorites.  We all first made an organic leather bracelet, learning how to use a few new tools like the leather strap cutter and leather punch. Who knew there was such a thing as a strap cutter? Brilliantly easy tool. We then graduated to learning how to bevel and burnish the edges of the leather by making a 2-row beaded bracelet.

Sunday was an all-day espadrille class by the fabulous instructors from the Brooklyn Shoe Space. By far this might have been my favorite class of the weekend. Not only did we walk away (literally) with a custom handmade pair of espadrilles, but I learned so much about the art of making shoes. I am definitely traveling back to Brooklyn to take another class. :)

Over the whole weekend we had a few special guests. One of the highlights (for me) was the Bread & Butter Bar. Yes, that’s right. A BREAD AND BUTTER BAR. :) The bread was provided by Bien Cuit as well as Zachary Golper, founder & owner of Bien Cuit joined us to tell us his story!

Also at the retreat were the Beekman Boys of Beekman 1802 Mercantile. All amazing creative people who were inspiring in different ways. Sweet Paul never ceases to amaze me of who he brings to his retreats. :)

The whole weekend was amazing. As many of the participants reflected on the weekend…the general feeling in the air is that the Sweet Paul Makerie Retreat is always a place for creativity, sharing, learning, and reuniting. I too recognized a few familiar faces (as well as met some new ones) that I look forward to seeing again (in person or online!)

Here’s to next year and many more!

Sweet Paul Makerie Retreat

I had every intention to share this post with you all in a timely manner…but life got in the way. I won’t go into too many details, but I can say without a doubt that the month of April was a doozy. There were highs, and there were lows. Some of which were the lowest of lows. But in the midst of it all I would have to say that the 2016 Sweet Paul Makerie Retreat was one of the highest of highs. :) It was a refuge in the midst of some chaos…and a well-needed creative break.

I was a first-timer at the retreat, and all I can say is WOW. I was blown away! This retreat was amazing. The venue was suburb. The food was unreal. The talent was inspiring. Sweet Paul and the Makerie put on a tremendous (and organized) event that I can’t wait to attend again next year (plus I’ve already recruited my friends to come with me next year!)

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(Above: Sweet Paul and special guest, Tiffani Thiessen of Dinner at Tiffani’s)

THE VENUE

The retreat was held at the URBN Corporate Campus at the Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, PA. If you aren’t familiar with this campus, I highly suggest you check out some of the photos of this space. Mine do not do it justice. The remodel of the old naval buildings is something to see. They retained much of the old character but added in some nice modern touches to make it an inspiring place to work. Little touches like adding the lantern lights to the ends the old jibbooms, transforms this old building into something magical. URBN added some of their own ecclectic flare to the space including a fern garden and mirrored wall as you walk in. It was the perfect venue to hold a creative retreat.

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I don’t know why I was so infatuated with the jibbooms. Maybe it’s because they have such a great name. :) I just love how they transformed such utility into something useful and beautiful. Not only did the architects keep the spirit of the environment in their designs, they added natural touches like this fern garden as you walked into the building. The mix of the ferns and the industrial chains is totally up my alley.

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And with sunset views like this…how could you not be inspired? Absolutely stunning.

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THE FOOD

The food presentation and spread was gorgeous and delicious. All the food was inspired by Sweet Paul’s recipes and makes other conference meals pale in comparison!

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THE CRAFTS

Chalkboard Lettering

Now for the main reason I went to the retreat…crafting. :) First up was chalkboard lettering with Valerie McKeehan, of Lily & Val. We used her new book, The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering: Create & Develop Your Own Style, as a base for practicing our techniques. We started by practicing lettering in a Sans Serif and Serif alphabet. This brought flashbacks of hand-lettering in my high school design class! What is super cool is in the front and back cover of her book, there are practice chalkboards! Super handy!

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Using an example from Valerie, we sketched out the layout, and over the top finalized our designs using the techniques she taught us.

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Wooden Spoon Carving

Next up was wooden spoon carving with Melanie Abrantes, of Melanie Abrantes Design. This was the class I was most intrigued by, and the one I had the least amount of skill going in. Did Melanie turn me into a wood spoon carver? Maybe not quite yet…but I definitely enjoyed it and would like to try again!

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Here is my finished product below. Quite beautiful ain’t she? :)

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Wooly Tattoo Weaving

This was the last craft session which was taught by an amazing mother and daughter duo. I had such a great time learning the ways of weaving and wooly tattoo’ing from Tif Fussell and her daughter Meg Fussell. They were terrific instructors, and had such fun stories to share as we all sat around working on our little pieces. And to top it off, they live in the northwest too! I hope I run into them around town.

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THANKS to Sweet Paul and the Makerie for making us all feel like part of the family! I can’t wait to see you next year!