craftcation welcome sign

Craftcation, the five-day business and makers’ conference held in Ventura, California, has once again served up a delightful mix of hands-on craft workshops, business classes, and problem-solving “think tanks” geared to makers and creative entrepreneurs.

The event, which ran from April 3-7 and is now in its 8th year, attracted about 500 people, including presenters, sponsors, staff, and volunteers, many looking to start, build or refine their businesses while having fun and learning new skills. Participants came from across the United States as well as from Canada, Taiwan, Denmark, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, and Saba, a small island in the Caribbean. Entrepreneur Amy Tan, creator of the popular Amy Tangerine scrapbooking brand, gave the closing speech.

Business classes and think-tank sessions ran the gamut from tips and techniques for using social media, including Pinterest, SEO, blogging, content marketing, and podcasting, to product critique, handling criticism, book and newsletter writing and targeting your market. Other classes covered such topics as financial and legal issues, product pricing, productivity and planning, and packaging.

Those looking for inspiration found it in Goal, Smash, Repeat; Fear Less & Take Action; Vision Board Journal and Using Tarot to Envision Your Creative Project.

There were several lettering workshops, including chalk lettering.

What’s your color story? Rebecca Burrick, from Paper Source, taught a workshop all about color.

Erin Garcia taught easy ways to make felt flowers and succulents. 

Attendees could also get their hands dirty – sometimes literally – with plenty of hands-on creative classes including fiber arts (woven bowls, several types of dyeing, woven necklace, macramé, crochet, embroidery, latch hook, felt flowers, and sashiko.) Sewing enthusiasts could make T-shirts, jumpsuits, espadrilles, classic cardigans, bias dresses, pillows, totes, yoga pants, appliqué shawls, even underpants.

For attendees with a passion for making jewelry, offerings included workshops in etched metal, enamel, beads, clay, metal stamping, and leather, while paper enthusiasts fashioned collages, travelers’ journals, crepe paper flowers, and more.

Other class options included doodling, watercolor, poured paint art, stencil art, planners, handmade watercolor pigments, roller stamping, block printing, and screen printing.

The opening night dinner featured several tables of make-and-take activities including creating a glittery sign. Walnut Hollow, ImpressArt, Clover and DecoArt were among companies who provided product and support for the make-and-takes. 

Rounding out the offerings were classes on stained glass, image transfers, acrylic pouring, cement casting, leather marbling, making natural perfumes, lettering, and photography.

Whether you were a party-hardy type, slow walker, or yoga fanatic, you could find your bliss morning, noon, or night, and work out some kinks at dance parties. Wanderings: A Self Guided Art Walk is a popular Craftcation activity in which some attendees transform their hotel rooms into, well, experiences. This year 11 rooms featured various themes, including a Craft Hang Out Podcast, a “bake sale” with treats and handmade goods, Hygge & Hugs, Messy Play, and When Life Gives You Scraps, Make a Quilt, voted favorite by attendees.

Amy Tan, owner of Amy Tangerine brand, gave an inspirational closing address. Tan has attended all eight Craftcation conferences and also teaches workshops at the event.

Amy Tan, creator of a successful handcrafted T-shirt line and a line of Amy Tangerine-branded scrapbooking/crafting products, and author of the book, Craft a Life You Love, closed the show with an inspirational keynote address, noting how she turned hobbies into jobs, and sharing some of the hard decisions she had to make along the way.

“I was that little kid who loved playing with all kinds of creative things,” she said. “Crafting is the place where I am truly happy.”

She offered a list of advice to makers, including:

  • We have to be our best selves.
  • It’s OK to change course.
  • Know your worth.
  • Know when to say no.
  • The best way to predict the future is to create it.
  • It’s not how many ideas you have, it’s how many you make happen.

Rainbows and makers were the themes at this year’s Craftcation.

Craftcation organizer Nicole Stevenson, of Dear Handmade Life, started the event in 2012 with then-business partner and co-founder Delilah Snell. At the time, she said, it was “the riskiest business decision I’d ever undertaken.” But by the end of that first event, the sense of community that was formed “was so powerful,” she knew it was worth the risk. Thousands of Craftcationers would agree.


Roberta Wax is an award-winning journalist and imperfect crafter. A former news reporter, her freelance articles and projects have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, from the Los Angeles Times and Emmy magazine to Cloth Paper Scissors, Somerset Studio, Craftideas, Belle Armoire, etc. She has also designed for craft companies. Although she has no art background she was a crafty Girl Scout leader. www.creativeunblock.com

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