Holiday Design Bazaar Benefits the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy Fine Arts Program

Saturday November 19, 2011 was the second annual Holiday Design Bazaar at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood.  A truly special event, this annual fundraiser, in collaboration with local craft superstars, helps to raise money to support the public elementary school's fine arts programming.  Crafters pledged to donate 25% of their sales from the day to help the cause.  This year's event was brimming with wonderful local vendors and family and friends of the Harvey Milk school.  I took some time to speak with some of my favorite Bay Area crafters who were all excited to be part of such a special event.

Harvey Milk Civil Rights AcademyPic of entire Harvey Milk Civil Rights Craft Fair

First up is the ever fabulous PuNk rAwK pUrL. Tammy George, the rock star crafter behind PuNk rAwK pUrL has been crafting beautifully altered collage Moleskine journals and gorgeous felt pillows for the past three years.  When asked about her craft Tammy explains, "I have been sewing paper since i was just a little crafty thing. I adore the texture, the way that the stitches pop up from the page. I also love the challenge of sewing into paper for functional items {i.e. my line of stitched up journals}, as a contrast to artful pieces. Paper doesn't want to hold a stitch, and different papers require different needles and thread/bobbin tension. It's a crafty dance to learn the traits of my materials....  it's a little bit of an obsession."     

PuNk rAwK pUrL's Tammy George       

Tammy finds inspiration for her gorgeous colorful concoctions in the everyday beauty surrounding her home and studio in Oakland, California. "As corny as it may sound... I see the world through colors. whether it is a building, a park, a bus full of people, lunch, or a new friend... the first thing that my brain sees are the colors and then the shapes.  It's why i also enjoy photography so much.  & it's why I find inspiration in everything around me... the smile of an old man on a park bench, the labels of the products stacked up on the shelves at the grocery."  In addition to crafting for PuNk raWk pUrL, Tammy works at a local yarn company and keeps up with her very popular blog.

 Felt pillows for Punk Rawk PuNk rAwK pUrL. Tammy George showing off her wares

Meet Heather Logsdon, the brains and talent behind San Francisco's very own Heathered.  When not playing bass and singing vocals for the band Hungry Hungry Ghost and working at a  downtown earthquake engineering firm, Heather creates eco-friendly wallets for fashionable adventurers. Heather has always been passionate about art.  

 Heather Logsdon of Hungry Hungry Ghost      Hungry Hungry Ghost Products 

 She says, "My family always made sure I had something creative to work on. I was an antsy child. Grade school backyard plays needed to have proper costumes so I fashioned some from thrift store clothes or raided the wrapping paper closet. There were a lot of bows involved (sorry, guy friends). I carried it from pre-teens into adulthood with making mix tapes and decorating their cases. My last car turned into an art car."

Fast Pass Wallets by Hungry Hungry Ghosts  

Out of her love for travel and backpacking came a need for a slim and travel friendly wallet. Heather started making wallets in 2006 and in December of 2007 opened her Etsy shop. Heather finds inspiration in mementos from her own travels and talking with her customers. She says, "I love maps. I'm a Map-o-phile. I love the idea of reliving elements of your trip by just glancing at your wallet. The postcard wallets are for people that want to imagine someone else's trip. Carrying something so small can bring back such great memories and I'm happy to pass it on. I also love hearing the stories from customers at craft shows or on Etsy about the significance of the wallet to them. Most of the Muni wallets I sell are the year and month a person moved to SF. Aug 06 is mine and I managed to get every apartment I've lived in on the back of it."

 

Jacob and Jamye are the self proclaimed design geeks behind San Francisco's retool, makers of cool vegan bags and wallets.  Established in 2011, Jacob and Jamye started retool in an effort to follow their passion.  Jacob says, "We had spent years having an ongoing conversation about what we would want to do and how that didn't ever seem to match up with what we felt we had to do in order to make a living. Eventually (after quite a bit of research and planning) we decided to just give it a shot."  

   Retool's display at Craft FairImage of Shopper checking out Retool wallets  

Retool wallets and bags are 100% vegan and made from upcycled, factory remnants or over-run batches of fabric.  Jacob and Jamye garner inspiration from materials.  Jacob says of their creative process, "I love the whole creative process: coming up with an idea for a new design; selecting materials; figuring out all of the construction details (how big should that pocket be?  what sort of buckle would work best?); creating prototypes, etc. It's incredibly satisfying to come up with a new design that works." 

 

  Picture of Retool Wallets  

To stay inspired, Jacob and Jamye are always inventing.  Jacob says, "Inspiration comes from so many sources for us.  Sometimes it's just a question we pose for ourselves as basic as "What *else* can I make out of this particular material?" Sometimes it comes from seeing an object in real life (or a picture) and thinking "How would I design/make that type of item differently?"  Along with designing and creating for retool, Jacob is also a fine artist.  His drawings, collages and paintings can be found here.

 

Lastly, I had the pleasure of catching up with Ana Ayala of Chula Art.  Ana is a speech pathologist for the San Francisco Unified School District by day and a jewelry maker by night.  Coming from a long line of artists in her family, Ana was inspired to create her own art after a trip to Mexico City, several summers ago.   Ana says, "Before jewelry and crafts, I was painting and playing with clay, sculptures and acrylics...I was very intimidated at first but decided to jump in anyway.  After making a few art pieces, a friend suggested I go on Etsy and sell my work.  I had no clue what Etsy was so after looking at all the beautiful things people were creating, I was so inspired that I couldn't help myself but to venture into the unknown world of crafts/jewelry and more. I now love making jewelry, being a vendor at craft fairs and consigning my jewelry at local SF shops ."

  photo of ana of chula art's work   Ana of Chula Art jewelry  

Ana enjoys creating unique pieces that have a flare of fun and beauty, but can also be simple, yet elegant.  She finds inspiration from life events, people and the beauty nature has to offer.  Of her creative process Ana says, "Sometimes I get stuck and I know it's time to let the creative juices simmer instead of forcing myself to create something.  Then, sometimes I creativity strikes and I go on creating things that I never imagined were possible.  Other times, I get inspired to create so many things that I lose focus and get really overwhelmed.  I guess I take things one day at a time, create when I'm inspired and give things a rest when nothing seems to be going right."  

 Ana Ayala of Chula Art 

Ana continues to love both of her professions.  She says of Chula Art, "It is very satisfying to make things and see people appreciate your work.  It is also extremely satisfying to see my small business grow. I hope to one day own my own boutique but for now I love being a speech therapist by day and an artist by night.  Creating things makes me feel more alive and fully self-expressed."

Many many thanks to Tammy, Heather, Jacob and Ana for taking a break from their busy booths at the HMCRA Holiday Bazaar to chat about their work!  For more information about the crafters featured here, click on the links within this post. 

Signing off by the Golden Gate,

Lisa

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