What brings you to the Minnesota State Fair? The tasty grub? The exhilarating rides? The adorable farm animals? The people-watching? Arc’s Value Village is doing its part to add a fresh component into the mix with their Minnesota Makers Series featuring demonstrations from three talented makers. For this series, Arc's Value Village is partnering with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Eco Experience, a fun showcase for ideas and products that aim to make Minnesota’s sky, water and land cleaner and healthier. The theme of this year’s Eco Experience is textiles, so Arc’s Value Village decided on the trending topic of makers to bring their series to life.
We recently caught up with Molly King, Marketing Manager at Arc’s Value Village to learn more about the upcoming series. She begins, “Minnesota has a long history of Makers—think of our modern Mill City roots and Washburn Crosby flour; 3M tape; Faribault Wool; Honeycrisp apples; it’s a long list. We love our Makers and Makers love us!”
With the thrifty nature of the series, Molly believes that the three participating makers echo the Arc’s mission while being some of the best makers around. “We love these three makers in particular because of the beautiful way that they give new life to something once-loved by someone else! They have an eye for a seemingly small detail on a sweater or accessory and are able to render it into something that showcases that detail in the best way possible. That is art.”
As a participating maker, St. Paul fiber artist Mandi Smethells of Smoothhills Weaving is looking forward to demonstrating her craft at the State Fair. Her sculptural work incorporates fiber, leather, fabric, and wood. Her Minnesota Makers demonstration will take place on Thursday, August 24th at 5PM with the theme, Artful Weaving with Upcycled Textiles.
“I am really excited about connecting with fairgoers, and hoping to inspire some to think of thrift stores a little differently: as boundless sources of unique creative raw materials. You can go to a craft store and buy a small bag of leather scraps for a project for $10 or you can go on a treasure hunt, and find a huge leather jacket in a cool color for the same price. Some of my all time favorite fiber finds have been total mystery yarns found at a thrift store for a few dollars. I am constantly looking at items in thrift stores from all angles: is this item still relevant usable in its current state, or could I make it something better?” – Mandi Smethells
Molly is also looking forward to the demonstrations, knowing that fairgoers love to see what’s going on in Minnesota. She shares, “This series provides the opportunity for makers to show something they do, which gives new ideas and inspiration to others. It's exciting to think of what new ideas could come from this! One of the great things about these projects is the accessibility; with a mind full of ideas and a few tools the possibilities are endless!”
Another participating makers is Terralee Armbruster, the maker behind Punchy Magnolia. Terralee began making ‘touques’ to provide warmth for her daughter in the harsh Minnesota winters. Every knit cap is transformed from a cashmere sweater into a luxurious item with a fun pom-pom on top. As a skilled maker, Terralee is looking forward to sharing her work and insight at the State Fair. Her Minnesota Makers demonstration will take place on Friday, September 1st at 5PM with the theme, T-Shirt Transformations: Isn’t it time to update your collection of vintage tees?
“The past couple of years I have noticed an amazing evolution in the craft markets across the country. More people are seeking out items that are unique, one of a kind, and especially locally handcrafted. Unfortunately, people tend to associate recycling with garbage, whereas this brilliant collaboration at the state fair is about encouraging and inspiring those to find innovative new purpose to textiles. For this event, I wanted to utilize a textile that is in a greater abundance than cashmere sweaters. There is a plethora of ugly t-shirts out there! Sorting through a week's worth of collected shirts (6 large boxes!!), brought about a new mission—stop making one time use t-shirts. There is a sea of badly designed corporate emblazoned event t-shirts that were begrudgingly wore once and immediately discarded. Say Hell No to ugly t-shirts!” –Terralee Armbruster
Thinking big picture, Molly believes this series offers an opportunity for Arc’s Value Village to act upon their mission by partnering with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency—something they’re proud to do. “We love to partner with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on these as a fun showcase for ideas and products that aim to make Minnesota’s sky, water, and land cleaner; an important tenet for Arc’s Value Village.”
No matter what brings you to the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota Makers Series is a fresh, interesting feature in an already colorful cultural happening. “New people might check out the series and learn that there is more to the Minnesota State Fair than food on a stick (albeit wonderful!),” Molly begins. “And for those who may not have a full appreciation of our thrift store, it may help convey the importance of Arc’s Value Village and that together we can make something! Makers make crafts, and with the proceeds we make that into programs that make life better for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Here is the full schedule of the Minnesota Makers Series:
Thursday 8/24 at 5PM: Artful Weaving with Upcycled Textiles Smoothhills Weaving, Mandi Smethells https://www.etsy.com/shop/mandismethells
Tuesday 8/29 at 10am and 12pm: Repurposing Wool Sweaters into Beautiful and Useful Products Steller Handcrafted Goods, Julie Steller http://www.stellergoods.com/
Friday 9/1 at 5PM: T-Shirt Transformations: Isn’t it time to update your collection of vintage tees? Punchy Magnolia, Terralee Armbruster http://www.punchymagnolia.com/