“Selfie” may have been the Word of the Year, or whatever, and I dare not speak against it, but I’d like to nominate another, equally important word for Word of the Cleveland Holiday Season: “Upcycle.”
One of the more unique and literal interpretations of the #shoplocal movement is by the Collective Upcycle (@CLEupcycle). It’s a pop-up shop, it’s a craft fair, it’s an art gallery, it’s perfect. They have everything you need to shop for everyone you know. No, they don’t have iPad’s or flat screens, but wouldn’t your boyfriend love a wall clock made out of a record shaped like Ohio just the same? More on them later … much more.
Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend the HumpDay Craft Workshop located at 6202 St. Clair (the Collective location) from 6-8 p.m. put on by Nicole McGee and co. (@plentyunderfoot). It was so much better than I expected, and I expected greatness.
It started snowing around 4:00 p.m. By the time I’d hopped in my precipitation-intolerant Ford Focus to head down, it was still snowing, harder. Five miles, 40 minutes and one stop at a seedy liquor/convenience store/head shop to pick up a sixer of Red Stripe (the only option that wasn’t Steel Reserve, a derivative of Milwaukee’s Best or in a 40-oz bottle), my exhausted, crystallized, threadbare wheels spun into the curb at the storefront. Warm light shone out from inside — one of the few inviting sights in that area. I trudged up to the door and shoved it open. Shit, wrong door. Should have read the sign. I took two steps to the right and shouldered my way into the hardwood-floored space and shook the winter out of my hair.
For two hours the eight to 10 of us crafted to our hearts content. While my projects looked much like I made a gigantic mess and glued it all together, most of the other women’s (yes, all women) creations looked made by someone who had done this before. It was warm, it was cozy, it was a private shopping event and a public display of my lack of tactile creativity. As I worked tirelessly to separate my thumb and middle finger, having been permabonded by the same Gorilla Glue that left my original
mess creation stuck forever to the sawhorse door table, I stared outside for a while. The snow was falling, still harder, and the Collective Upcycle was a snow globe, a fishbowl, a glowing craft cave and exceeding levels of comfort I thought possible in that part of town.It was exactly what I’d expected. The eclectic mix of people matched perfectly the eclectic nature of the host business. Doors on sawhorses served as our crafting tables and the supply buffet — a collection of leftover crafting scraps from the hostesses year of past projects and emptied from the dusty corners of what must be the city’s most enthusiastic craft room, plus wire, lots of wire — and cheese, crackers and wine were perched on a podium in the back corner by the Collective clothing racks, behind the chicken wire earring holder display.
Maybe I was drunk on cheese (Definitely not Red Stripe because apparently there do still exist beers without twist-off caps. Who knew?), but I was more content with just being there than any sort of creative incompetence or crafter’s block could have destroyed. The HumpDay Holiday Craft Workshop epitomized, to me, what it meant to shop local this season. Surrounded by the works of local artists, the eight to 10 of us became one of them last night. Even my 4-year-old joined the community when upon my return home she grabbed my delicate, spiral wire holiday tree craft and pulled the ends, straightening it out into a dangerous wire holiday stick, making it her very own.
We laughed, we “oohed and ahhed” over each others projects, which apparently is a big thing in the craft world, we ate, drank, were merry and shopped local. I even got my grandma a Christmas gift when someone from the Collective showed up towards the end to process transactions for the store. I refused to entertain the idea of entertaining my family with my gluey messes as gifts.
This event and so many more are to come through the Collective Upcycle this season.
Next week, Cultured Bazaar (@CulturedBazaar) is hosting a Bring on the Glam-themed clothing swap in the space December 19, 6-9 p.m. Bring 11 items of clothing, including at least one dress, and leave with different ones. There will be appetizers, “even better than tonights!” promised activity leader Devon as she hocked the event and glared at the meager cheese plate. (In the buffet’s defense, we ate the shit out of that cheese and the hot chocolate was incredible.) There will be catered food by Luxe and Wine, makeup artist Jason Kelly doing smokey eye tutorials and giving quickie applications, open changing rooms plus shopping in excess of the clothing swap, all for $16. There will be contests, raffles, a Sweet Treats surprise and absolutely no reason not to come. Any clothing items not taken, plus a portion of the proceeds that night will be donated to the Cleveland Domestic Violence Shelter down the street.
I’ll be there searching for something with sparkles in a 4 for New Years Eve. Join me, ladies (only)?