Handmade Arcade & Handmade Nation

Thank you so much to everyone who attended Saturday’s screening of Faythe Levine’s feature-length 2009 documentary, Handmade Nation, at Downtown’s Harris Theater, as part of this year’s Three Rivers Film Festival and the exhibition, DIY: A Revolution in Handicrafts, on view through March 26, 2011, at the Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District. The screening was followed by a special book signing and reception at SCC. In case you missed it, or want to learn more about Faythe’s work in Milwaukee and around planet craft, here is what the Pittsburgh City Paper had to say in its preview of the event!

Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY Art, Craft, and Design

If you were among the 9,000 visitors to last year’s installment of Handmade Arcade, with its vendors from all over filling Shadyside’s Armory, you know indie crafts aren’t just a Pittsburgh phenomenon. Now there’s a film vividly documenting the movement’s national scope, and a philosophy that goes beyond the mere purveyance of artisanal knitwear, clothing, books, zines, prints, dolls and jewelry. Handmade Nation is Milwaukee-based curator Faythe Levine’s feature-length 2009 compendium of interviews with artists, including visits to their stores and craft fairs. Though directly descended from quiltmaking and other traditional crafts, today’s indie craft is driven by a post-punk DIY ethos — a conscious, living-small alternative to a consumer culture of goods mass-extruded in Global South sweatshops and UPC-scanned in big-box retailers. It’s also got a green edge, reflected in the use of reused or recycled raw materials. Levine, 32, has been crafting for a decade. The national scene took off, she says, around 2003, with the rise of websites like SuperNaturale, GetCrafty and other venues for online community and retailing. (Handmade Arcade was founded in 2004.) Now chain retailers ape the “handmade look,” and venture capitalists have invested in Etsy, the key online marketplace for handcrafters. But Levine emphasizes “the empowerment of making.” Creating beautiful or useful objects oneself “makes [people] feel good, proud, happy, satisfied and excited to share,” says Levine, who visits Pittsburgh on Nov. 6 for a screening and a signing of her companion Handmade Nationbook. “The act of making is contagious.”