Interview with Modern Seamster - Summer 2008
Craft Mafia Dossier
Seattle Craft Mafia
Cassandra Lanning -
I Heart Rummage
Naomi Kuritzsky Regan -
Paddy Litvak jewelry
Jessie Sterling -
Jessie Beans Handmade Accessories
Khrisla Mulvany -
Lala Bags + Accessories
Cynthia Sundt -
Reflects the Moon
The Craft Mafia Dossier issue 01 / Summer 2008
"It's our last day in Seattle as PR lady Linda Lagunas and I approach the legendary Crocodile Café—of grunge and Nirvana fame—situated on a corner in the Belltown district. Having finally mastered the city's public transit system and getting to know the neighborhoods of Capital Hill, Downtown, Queen Anne, Pike Market, and of course, Belltown, we
confidentially stride into the unassuming music and dining venue whose
stage has boasted some of the finest acts to date.
We are here to interview three members of the Seattle Craft Mafia: Cassandra Lanning of I Heart Rummage; Naomi Kuritzsky Regan of
Paddy Litvak jewelry; and Jessie Sterling of Jessie Beans Handmade Accessories. Absent were fellow SCM members Khrisla Mulvany (Lala Bags + Accessories) and Cynthia Sundt (Reflects the Moon). Ultimately, we want to know what makes this famiglia tick—what
motivates them and how they do this undercover job of theirs.
When we arrive, we see that Naomi is already there, crafting out prefab jewelry and waiting patiently for everyone else. We introduce ourselves and sit down to some idle chitchat. Jessie Sterling (affectionately known as Jessie Bean) arrives next, decked out in bright fresh clothing, carefully applied makeup, and wearing nail polish decorated sunglasses (which, I later learn, she attributes to the masterful teachings of a 65-year old artist). After ordering some coffee and a bite to eat, we wait for Cassandra Lanning, (the long-time owner and organizer of I Heart Rummage), to breeze through the door any moment and breeze she does: sporting a dark red stylized bob, cell phone in hand, and looking every part the overbooked event planner, she bursts through the café's glass doors and finally reaches our table.
Once everyone had settled into their food and final introductions have been made, we put on our trusty tape recorder and get to asking some
questions. Off the bat, I wanted to know what everyone did before joining Seattle Craft Mafia and the answers were understandably varied.
Cassandra is a licensed electrologist, mother, and former founding member of Urban Craft Uprising (Seattle); Naomi had been a member of
the nine to five set; and Jessie Bean had been in audio engineering school, having done craft shows off and on since she was sixteen. When asked if they met through SCM, the answer is surprisingly no . . . sort of. Actually, Naomi and Cassandra couldn't agree on whether they met through SCM or I Heart Rummage.
For clarification's sake, I asked Cassandra to tell me the difference between the two. According to her, SCM is an, ". . . outside group or
club. . . . A girl's get-together group [of] crafters [who] . . . hang out, do crafty things together and go on field trips . . ." while I Heart Rummage (and Urban Craft Uprising) are strictly craft shows with vendors such as the Crafty Scientist and Sweetie Pie Press traveling all the way from Connecticut and Toronto. Nonetheless, the consensus at the table
was no matter what avenues brought them together, they were completely over the moon when they discovered a craft mafia had been
formed in Seattle since they all knew about the original, the Austin Craft Mafia.
A little pre-SCM history: Cassandra Lanning had been with Urban Craft Uprising at the time Seattle Craft Mafia was formed in 2006. Prior to that, she had suggested that UCU start the mafia collective but unfortunately it wasn't considered a priority and thus put on the back burner. Established in 2001 (years before SCM) I Heart Rummage has sort of taken over the as the main engine for the SCM members, while SCM has been lying dormant, more or less. If the other two members had
any problem with the craft takeover, they didn't show it, as they were bright with praise for Cassandra and her sheer drive and fine skills at organizing, which she describes as, ". . . very organized in a disorganized way. I know what I got going on, no one else does."
Crafting in the modern world. How does one fit in gluing, stitching, felting, and all the other details that go with it while trying to work, cook dinner, and maintain a normal lifestyle? Naomi tries to stay away from the nine to five grind and now temps and gives an animated depiction of an average Naomi day, "I just do it when I'm at home or on the weekends . . . . I can actually balance it pretty well. . . . I've been like doing accounting stuff right now; I know it's like numbers numbers numbers numbers numbers! Ooh! Lunch. Crafting. Ooh! Okay. Then its numbers numbers numbers numbers! Drive home. Sleep or crafting." Twenty-two year old Jessie Beans sees it in a similar way, ". . . I [love] portable tasks. . . . Someone's like, 'Hey, do you wanna go out for coffee?' and I'm like,
'Sure!' and I'll just bring my craft and I'll just sit there . . . so that's kinda how you have to fit it in with social life." IHR's Cassandra has become quite adept at the method of compartmentalizing her weekdays, but even
she admits, "I actually work on the craft stuff, you know, every waking moment."
Yet somehow these three ladies have found the seemingly perfect system for squeezing it all in, but still, one does wonder what drives
them to fill their days with never-ending details, creative or not. When asked about inspiration, each member has more than one, although Cassandra ranks high on their lists. Energetic and effervescent Jessie Bean gives big gushing props to Austin Craft Mafia and Sparklecraft as big motivators for her while Naomi cites Beads and Beyond (WA) as a huge mentor in teaching her beading technique. However, it is Cassandra who sites the most unorthodox inspiration of them all . . . Gene Simmons of KISS. Excitedly she claims, "Gene Simmons is one hell of a businessman! That dude can sell up anything." Gene Simmons is amazing but can the extremely tall rock god of capitalism go up against the domestic world's biggest contender, Martha Stewart? Martha is king, or rather queen, in that realm. Cassandra tells me a story about IHR's vendors, Cassie Mae Chappell (Mommie Makes Roses), who had the chance to appear on The Martha Stewart Show (which, to some, is akin to receiving an OBE of art and crafts). Demonstrating how to make fake roses out of coffee filters and then water coloring them, Cassie Mae delighted many viewers across the nation and the girls back home in Seattle are very proud of her.
HGTV has also seen some SCM/IHR action as well—Cassandra was a guest crafter for a Halloween episode where she made bone, coffin, and crystal ball soaps. A few years back, she was more into the crafting side
of business rather than event promotion and wanting to feed her internal creative hippie without having to actually stuff herself silly with all the baked goods she prepared, Cassandra discovered the melt and pour soap technique. Always curious about self-sufficiency and being self-sustainable, she asked herself, "Like what if there [was] going to be a nuclear holocaust and we were the only ones left, how would we make
toothpaste?! How would we make soap? How would we stay clean?"
And soaps it was. A lot of them. Completely overrun with more soaps than she or her family could use, Cassandra decided to sell them. With no other viable choice than the typical suburban "old lady craft show", she
fearlessly signed up. Looking back at the situation with humor, she says, "They put me and my Goth soaps right next door to the lady who makes the Christian soaps with the little Bible verses on the labels! Needless to
say, I sold two bars of soap that day." Spurred on by an aversion to "pastel pink and blue quilts", Cassandra soon realized her calling
and I Heart Rummage was born and she never looked back.
As the saying goes, 'one door closes and another opens' so where do these parttime mafiosas want to go from here? Having poured their hearts, souls, and valuable time into their crafts, these three business
women are still buoyed by the endles possibilities that arise from craft culture. Naomi confesses that she would like to start using her precious metal clay kiln and focus on metalwork and vows to get more involved
in the Seattle Craft Mafia; Miss Jessie Bean has many book manuscripts forming her in mind; and Cassandra? She's currently in aesthetician school but is constantly trying to make IHR more interesting and better than the one before. She's proud of the fact that she presents the craft shows with a new spin, "three different shows in three different cities
on three different weekends" calling it the Northwest First United Independent Craft Show.
If they could never craft again? Well, that remains to be seen. Jessie Beans could always teach crafting, Cassandra can always keep the
human race clean and hairless, and Naomi, well, she'll never go back to the wearisome world of nine to five. Because really, what is a world without a creative outlet? A pastel pink and blue time punch card, that's what."
Alloy.com "Get This Look" - 2009
Get this Look - Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman's color-blocked red carpet look might have been shaded in boyish blue, but there's nothing depressing about this festive Jason Wu frock! The Brothers star used not-so traditional colors in a refreshing new way. The cobalt and teal combo is the perfect thing for you to try at your holiday fetes! So snag the prods below to get as glam as Nat!
1. Starry Eyed:
You don't need a makeup team to get Natalie's gorgeous smoky eyes when you splurge on Urban Decay's Eye Kit in JuJu ($32). Four shadows and travel-sized versions of eye pencils and mascara are included in the handy stash!
2. Satin Band Of Brothers:
Forgo the waist band with Jessie Beans' handmade satin appliquéé headband ($17).
3. What A Teal:
Beautiful Girls like you and Natalie will look gorg in a teal satin dress with ruched bow details ($42.90, Alloy.com).
4. Not-So-Mellow Yellow:
You don't need a bazillion dollar handbag to make a statement. For $14, grab Illamasqua's Nail Varnish in Wayward.
5. Magical Magenta:
Who needs to suffer the pain with sky-high heels when you can rock the dance floor in equally pretty satin flats? Fit your feet into dELiA*s Sonia flats ($33.50)
Interview for Rachael's Handmade Designs -