One of the brilliant things I’m learning about being more and more involved in quilting, is that there is a huge online crafting community out there who are willing and able to support each other. As with any community, it’s a give and take affair – the more you contribute, the more you are likely to benefit in mutual support from other members. From where to source materials, tips on tricky techniques, advice on building your audience, blogging support, to just someone to chat when you’re stuck in a creativity block, there are so many people willing to sit and write you the email/blog post/forum comment to get you out of a bind.
Funnily enough, I’ve been trying to build my real-time physical community links too but it’s a much tougher cookie than the online community. I’m struggling to find community groups in my area based on the idea of mutual resource and knowledge sharing for the sole purpose of just helping each other out. The closest I’ve come is a great international resource called Freeconomy and their Irish & Belgian branches, but to be honest, the Belgian contingent isn’t very strong yet and I’m not in Ireland enough at the moment to participate in the Irish branch activities. So I’m a little lost in the physical place communities. Any advice or tips are most welcome!
The best online communities I found through my new current bible – The Handmade Marketplace. Recommended to me by a friend, it’s invaluable if you want to set up crafting as a business. Having worked for years in marketing for music, much of the marketing advice I had well in hand, but the community section is a great leg up when you’re getting started. Also, I’ve never been an avid member of any online forum to date, but am really getting into both Glitter and Craftster, just to realise that there are others out there also stuck in the same bind I’m in! I’ve managed to completely reorganise how I store my fabrics based on the advice of a few old hands. No pics of the new arrangement though, there are some final touches to be made yet!
I can’t quite remember where I found it but a week ago I discovered iHanna’s postcard swap. It stuck me as a hands-on way of being involved in both a physical and etheral community – physical because you end up with ten handmade postcards from all over the world, in your hand, and etheral because, as with any pen pal swap, you are unlikely to ever meet the postcard makers so they are represented by the little squares of card that land in your post box. And who doesn’t love post?! There was no theme to the swap so I made mine based on “a few of my favourite things” – sewing, nice papers and cities (although there are only Dublin pics on the postcards, sorry Brussels!) and bunting of course! I’m very excited to receive my postcards in the coming week and will post pics when they get here!