Creative Genius: Morgan Spenla of the Crafter's Box
Discover your inner maker with this DIY-focused subscription box.
As a self-admitted addict of subscription boxes, I've signed up for my fair share of DIY-themed mailings over the past few years. But I haven't really stuck with any of them. That was until I discovered The Crafter's Box while listening to a podcast one day. I immediately became a fan of founder Morgan Spenla's concept and signed up right away. Since then I've worked on my embroidery skils, fallen in love with wood crafts, practiced weaving, and even made my very own cutting board.
Thanks to locally-sourced tools and materials and creative projects, The Crafter's Box was one of my favorite finds for 2016. Get to know a little bit more about Morgan, a Creative Genius, and what The Crafter's Box is all about.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and The Crafter's Box.
The Crafter's Box was built for those that love to make. For those that have a bit of a creative soul but perhaps struggle with finding the right resources, sourcing the right tools and materials and mastering the right skills to feed that creativity on a regular basis (this is very much me as the mom to three littles under 6). Our goal is to help fill that gap. Our mission is to explore thoughtful, beautiful projects with the guidance of an experienced maker so that everyone has the opportunity to grow in their creativity on their own time and at their own pace.
What prompted you to develop The Crafter's Box?
Truthfully, the concept of The Crafter's Box was inspired by several times in my busy life when me being creative kept coming to a halt for so many different reasons. There is one project that I remember well that sort of sums up why The Crafter's Box concept was so important to me: A little over a year ago I had decided to start working with jewelry again and was determined to craft a beautiful leather and ceramic necklace for myself. I had the vision! I saw the finished piece! I was so excited to create. I remember struggling to source my materials and eventually ending up in the jewelry aisle at a local craft store with three kiddos at a crazy time in the evening after work. With toddlers in tow, I about lost my mind with decision paralysis there at the store and ended up bringing home five times the amount of materials (leather cording in all sorts of shades, ceramic beads; big and small) than I'd actually needed. I hit another roadblock when I used all the previous jewelry making skills I had to carefully attach a jump ring to wire only to watch my progress snap again and again. A similar frustration cropped up while exploring fiber arts and ceramics and you name it... Life became too busy to make being creative easy or meaningful.
Out of this sort of frustration—that desire to learn and grow while really using your hands and focusing on a creative project but hitting all of these roadblocks—is what The Crafter's Box seeks to alleviate. The concept of bringing a digital workshop by an expert maker along with the right, curated tools and materials to create and create and create felt like a really natural solution and needed idea for so many of those that have that creative slice.
How do you select the makers that will be featured in each month's project?
We try to bring a variety of makers that inspire different types of artistic creativity. Sometimes makers introduce themselves to us, sometimes we seek out particular artists that we feel really compliment our mission of slow crafting.
With a variety of DIY-themed subscription boxes available today, what makes The Crafter's Box different?
We spend a great deal of care building curated monthly workshops. Each workshop features a different crafting technique with an experienced artist and offers a video tutorial on how to carefully complete each project (we produce the videos in San Diego during what we call 'crafter's retreats' with several artists at the same time). We also focus on sustainable and small batch (often mom and pop shop) manufacturers whenever possible. That might include handmade looms made in Southern California for our weaving workshop, spun roving from a carding mill in Columbia River, Oregon or handmade metal clasps by an artist in Pennsylvania. We focus on slow crafting which is a concept that has its roots in slow food, slow living. I think that all of these qualities differentiate us from other membership communities.
Do you have a favorite project so far?
Oh gosh! That's like choosing a favorite child. I am so fortunate that I get to totally engage in and learn about different crafting techniques through research, by meeting each maker and working carefully with them, and then by helping them to build a thoughtful final box. It's fair to say I love all!
The Crafter's Box has a community component to it. What do you think inspires today's craft community online?
A community allows makers to share about their experience, their talent, their works of art. Community encourages and engages - it's so wonderful! Crafting communities online naturally make so much sense. An online or social media community allows people who are passionate about creativity to connect.
What do you find appealing about being a maker?
I share a lot about the creative soul both on our monthly podcast and our website. I think that a lot of us have a creative soul that has to be nourished to bring balance to our lives. There's something wonderfully satisfying that comes from working with your hands to craft and build, I think anyone who has experienced that joy knows why being a maker is so important.
What's next for The Crafter's Box?
We have such a lovely project line up for 2017! I cannot wait to continue to grow with this community of crafters and to explore the different techniques we'll be focusing on this coming year.
Starting out in January we're featuring Rebekka Seale of Camellia Fiber Company and Lisa Garcia of Soñadora Studio. Rebekka is teaching our members how to properly dye a raw wool yarn skein using roots, nuts, dried flowers and other natural materials. Lisa will then show them how to create a beautiful, structural wall hanging with the finished product. Following that up, and just in time for Valentine's Day, Emily Eggebrecht of Consider the Wldflwrs will be teaching jewelry making techniques to create a simple gold necklace.