I love Handmade Detroit. I love the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. I’m proud to have been part of HD for the past 11 years, and to have been a DUCF organizer since the very beginning. But the time has come for me to take a different path. Through Handmade Detroit, I’ve met so many close friends, seen so much inspiring work, and made so many wonderful memories. I will always look back at this era with gratitude and love.
In 2006, our family was going through some difficult changes. My husband and I had only recently moved to the area, and we were expecting our first child. We had friends and family eager to help us through this transition, but they all seemed very far away.
At the same time, we’d become inspired by the indie craft movement that was spreading across the country, and we were striving to bring it to Michigan. But we weren’t making much headway on our own.
It was at this moment that Handmade Detroit’s Stephanie Tardy (now Duimstra) appeared, and invited us to join her in planning the first Detroit Urban Craft Fair. She saw that we shared a goal, and she realized we could best reach it by working together. The next thing we knew, we were at a meeting, surrounded by welcoming, supportive, like-minded people.
Today, Michigan has a thriving network of indie craft fairs, and DUCF is respected as the largest and longest running in the state. So that first meeting was a significant turning point for our local culture. It was also a significant turning point for our family: the moment when we found our community. Five days after the meeting, our daughter was born, and it felt great to make the announcement to our new friends.
Recently, our family has gone through some other difficult changes. In January 2016, we lost my mother to Alzheimer’s disease. I had been taking care of her for years, and every day I had to watch her slip a little farther away. Less than three weeks after her death, my big brother died following a massive stroke. He was a powerful, almost legendary figure, so his sudden death seemed impossible. This past March, my father-in-law passed away. Parkinson’s disease had long since ended his incredible career, and obscured his engaging personality, but none of that made our goodbyes any easier.
This time, we needed to deal with the changes by taking a step back. So last year, I took a leave of absence from Handmade Detroit to grieve, reflect, and figure out how to live without these people. It’s been hard, and I have yet to find any answers. But we have a lot of support from our family and friends, and we are going to be okay, in some form yet to be revealed to us.
For now, we’re left with an acute sense of life rushing past. And an appreciation for all that our loved ones accomplished with their brief spans. So we’re making some big changes, including a return to school for my husband and me. And we’re taking every opportunity to hold our children close, and help them through this frightening time. Given all of this, I have now made the tough choice to leave Handmade Detroit permanently.
Of course, I’m not leaving the craft community! I’ll still be around, just not in the same way as for the last 11 years. My little family business will continue to host Small Craft get-togethers now and then. This summer, I’ll enjoy the return of Craft-A-Way Camp, my annual retreat for creative adults. And you’ll run into me at DUCF and other area fairs. I leave Handmade Detroit in the capable hands of Bethany and Carey, and can’t wait to see where they take it in the future.
These days, we’re all going through some difficult changes. Shock, fear, and sorrow are everywhere. The beautiful, inclusive, creative world we’ve been building is under attack. In times like this, the lessons we’ve learned as a craft community are more important than ever. Stand up for yourselves. Take care of each other. Make the most of every moment. In the face of adversity, you’ll find a strength you never knew you had.
Love to you all,