Another year of craft explosion is right around the corner. Four seasons of preparatory functions have led up to a fifth year of artistry, which is sure to be the most successful and fulfilled Craft Lake City DIY Festival yet. Artisans from around the Salt Lake valley will coincide at the Gallivan Center from August 9–10 in a smorgasbord of handmade objects and mind-melting performances. The Craft Lake City DIY Festival, brainchild of SLUG Editor Angela H. Brown, brings out the quirkiest and often most impressive elements of the salty city’s underground DIY culture. This year, I was lucky enough to quiz four distinctly different artisans participating in the event.
First, I chatted with Lars Burrows of Lars Love Letters, a fully recycled set of unique paper and cards. Burrows began making cards about three years ago, and the most impressive aspect of his creative process is his involvement in the entire operation, from making the paper to the final embellishments on the masterpieces. “I love making my own paper for projects—it gives me really unique paper for my cards and prints,” Burrows says. “All of my cards and posters are made from junk mail and scrap paper. I make notebooks from reclaimed ledgers out of day planners and frames for my art from old fences.”
Even with a name like Lars Love Letters, don’t expect the typical greeting card mentality here. This project is full of original and refreshing snippets. “The cards I make are mostly just things I would say: usually nice, if not a little off the wall. All the artwork is my own,” Burrows says. His themes are varying and dependent on the feel you’re trying to go for, from love and friendship to thank yous and get wells. “I’m trying to open things up more and make cards you can give to a friend as well as a girlfriend. Lately, space has been an influence. It quiets the mind and broadens the perspective,” Burrows says.
This is Burrows’ third year at the DIY Fest, and as such, he has a good grasp on its social impact. “This festival is one of my favorites because it’s a great venue for local artists that’s so accessible. After my first year attending, I decided it was time to start creating. I’m sure there’s a lot of people, like me, who are more involved in the DIY and craft community because of it, adding more unique creativity and awesomeness to our culture,” he says.
As a card-making hobbyist, I was extremely impressed with the drive and inventiveness of Burrows’ paper products. Cards have a propensity to be tawdry or cliché when mass produced, but finding a perfect one from a local artist puts the human back into the card, and makes for a genuine and rare gift. For more information, or to purchase wares outside of the festival, go to larsloveletters.com, facebook.com/larsloveletters or etsy.com/shop/larsloveletters.
Next, I conversed with Marie Brian of The Cotton Floozy about her intricate embroidery work. With many years of experience under her belt, Brian has one thing to say that sets her apart from other stitchers, other than her fantastic sense of humor: “My embroidery is more badass than other artists’ embroidery,” Brian says. “I mostly make subversive needlepoint samplers, either finished in wooden hoops or in traditional frames. I have a fear of sewing machines called bobbinphobia, which is in no way a made-up phobia.”
Cotton Floozy is open to requests if you’ve had a perfect sentence or portrait for embroidery mulling around in your brain, just waiting for an outlet. “About half of my needlepoints are custom-made. One of my favorite customers asked me to stitch, ‘Calm your tits. –Buddha.’ At the bottom, I embroidered a picture of a very serene Buddha with man boobs,” Brian says. Along with silly and fun pictures and sayings, the style of fabrics used is humble. “The majority of the fabrics I use come from my mother’s craft room closet. I have found some wonderful, vintage fabrics while hand-trawling through her stash. Fabrics that are weird or fugly are my favorite,” Brian says.
As another third-year veteran, Brian has a plan and a lot to say about this year’s DIY Festival. “I am considered to be a ‘CLC Alum,’ which I take very seriously. I plan on wearing full academic regalia to this year’s [DIY Fest],” she says, teasing. “My favorite thing about CLC is that it celebrates counterculture. The artists, crafters and DIYers challenge the social norms of Utah. Everywhere you look at CLC, there are crafts and artwork promoting diversity, peace and marriage equality. The most creative, talented and funny people share their work at Craft Lake City.” Check out Brian’s embroidered sense of humor at the festival, or go to www.cottonfloozy.com or facebook.com/thecottonfloozy.