Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Crafty Night Encyclopedia

Hand-painted Crafty Night banner

I have had a lot of people ask me about Crafty Night. I'm hoping this GIANT blog post will answer your questions. I've spoken with several crafty peeps who are interested in starting a craft group of their own & I thought maybe this would help motivate or inspire you. If anyone has other questions, PLEASE let me know & I'll update with more answers.
January 2011 Crafty Night "Embellished Gloves"

When did you start Crafty Night?
I LOVE making stuff & getting all creative-like. I thought it'd be fun to get together with other people & share that. So, in early 2010 I started meeting with a few people in the activity room of my church. After several months, I decided that, being in a small-town, I wanted to shy away from the "church" setting & hold Crafty Night in a more centralized locale instead. I knew some people might be turned away from coming to Crafty Night simply because it was held in a church. And I want EVERYONE to feel welcome. It is, afterall, an event open to the community. So, in January 2011 we started meeting at ON3 Photography. It's on Main Street & it's perfect! You just have to do what works for you. In a different setting, I might meet at a church---churches often have large meeting rooms with LOTS of space & even kitchen facilities. 
UPDATE: September 2011 I moved Crafty Night back to our original location in the church activity room. I found that it was really hard to set up by myself & kinda stressful. The activity room is right next door to my house. ALSO, we have painted the walls, added some furniture & it looks much more inviting! It's really a great space!

View of postcard & center of crafty tables (January 2011)

How do you get the word out about Crafty Night?
Every month, about a week before Crafty Night, I mail out postcards I designed. So far I have just a small contact list of crafters. Word of mouth has prolly brought most of my Crafty Night guests. I also have a Crafty Night facebook page---which is a fun place to post pictures of each month's crafty happenings & to send reminders or updates.

Our big celebration after moving to a new location!

Walk me through a typical Crafty Night...
Guests arrive at 6 p.m. & fill out a name tag. First-time guests also fill out an information card. (I use the info to mail out the postcard reminders each month.) For the first 15-20 minutes we have a light dinner buffet. (Soup, bread & dessert or something simple. I'm lucky enough to have a couple friends who take care of that part for me!) Then, I teach a craft. Sometimes I have drawings for prizes, but not every month. And everyone always leaves with a little handmade favor.
 Every craft group is different. Some groups have more of a "bring your own craft to work on" setting & everyone gets together to hang out & craft.(This is the most simple craft group to get started. No cost. No fuss.) Other groups have several different craft instructors set up at different tables teaching a different craft. When crafters arrive, they hop from table to table (in no particular order) learning a new craft.
Some groups meet a couple times a year. Others meet quarterly. It all really depends on how much you have to plan & prep, how much help you have in doing the planning & prepping, & how much time you want (or have) to put into your craft group.
UPDATE: The specific friend that helped with the meals has since moved. Bummer. And doing dinner AND crafts is too much for my little plate. So, we no longer have a light supper before crafting. Instead, everyone can bring a snack to share if they want!

What is the cost of attending Crafty Night?
Crafty Night is free. I don't require people to pay. BUT, I do ask for donations. I won't turn you away if you don't donate though. (I have a donation bowl set out.) The cost of running Crafty Night comes out of my pocket & then I use the donations to offset the money I've spent--& to pay for the next month's crafty supplies. I don't make a penny off of Crafty Night. Crafty Night started with a gathering of 6 people & is nearing 20 now. If Crafty Night gets much bigger, or I find that the financial burden is  too much for me, I may have to start charging a fee to attend. And that's not a bad thing at all. Most crafty groups that provide this sort of service DO charge for attending.
UPDATE: I have started charging $5. per person for Crafty Night. The donations weren't enough to cover the supplies. It also helps me budget within a specific amount, which is nice. I continue to make zero profit from this, which is exactly what I want for now.

Susan teaches Randy how to knit

Where do you get your ideas for Crafty Night?
I scour the internet, peek at my favorite blogs, flip through library books, look through my crafty mags, etc. Sometimes I simply make a craft because it's something I've always wanted to try. I have also made it a goal to have AT LEAST 2 months of crafts planned out. This helps prevent me from doing things last minute & getting all crazy hectic about it.
One month I had a friend teach knitting. I plan on bringing in other talented crafters or artists to teach as well. Another month I plan on having a "hang out & bring your own craft to work on" night too. I want to mix it up. I've even toyed with the idea of doing some yarn bombing (a.k.a. "graffiti knitting"). I also have an upcoming night planned in the summer where we will do something similar to The Toy Society: secretly dropping off our handmade goodies all over the town with a simple note attached that says "Take me home." I think it'd be a great way to creatively give back to our community.

Laura & Sarah gluing it up at the March 2011 Crafty Night "Book Wreaths"

Do you have any Crafty Night pet peeves?
YES. I ask that guests please reserve a seat by letting me know if they're gonna come. It's really frustrating as I'm buying supplies, not knowing if 5 people are going to show up, or 25. This month (April) I did something a little bit different. I purchased supplies online. And I decided to buy enough for 20 people. I got the word out that I only had 20 spots available---& people have been signing up quicker than they ever have. More new people too! It's so much easier to buy supplies this way! So, I'm thinking I might start organizing Crafty Night with limited seating. See, I'm still working out kinks--I don't have everything figured out. I'm sorta learning as I go along. And that's the main thing: just do what works for you & your craft group. The hardest part of Crafty Night for me is not knowing the exact number of people that will be there every month. So, having a limited number of seats just might be the answer!

Have you ever taught a craft group before?
For 4 years I was the Creative Activites Leader at my MOPS group in Richland, WA. So, I got practice in purchasing supplies for a large-ish group (30-35) & teaching once a month.

Any other tips or advice??
•Crafty Night is about creating & getting crafty. But it's also about hanging out & being together & having fun. I try to find crafts that are fairly simple to explain in just a few minutes time. That way, once the group knows their mission, they can start crafting on their own--- & chat & giggle all at the same time. (Of course I'm always hopping around helping those that need help. I basically don't plan on making a craft of my own on Crafty Night because I'm either helping people or taking photos.) If I were to lead a step-by-step craft each month, it would just be me at the front of the group talking, going through each step, while everyone else quietly listened. My group would lose out on my favorite part: building friendships (& being loud & giggly)! 

 •I have tossed around the idea about whether or not to announce what the craft will be each month. I, personally, would rather know what craft was being concocted before I decided to go to a craft group. But I get more feedback from my crafty peeps that they enjoy NOT knowing & they love the surprise of showing up & finding out then. So, I've decided to keep the topic of each Crafty Night on the down low. I do have a few people that always ask "What are we going to be making?" & I don't mind sharing. Again, I may change my mind & start announcing the craft each month if I keep getting more & more people asking.

Marble magnets---first Crafty Night, March 2010
To view the Crafty Night photo collection, click HERE.

March of 2011, Crafty Night celebrated it's 1-year anniversary! Thanks for crafting with me all you creative peoples!


  1. Brilliant...other than that, I'm speechless

  2. This sounds like so much fun! Thanks for sharing your ideas!


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