When we started Papertrey Ink 11 years ago, we never predicted the community we would build. Shortly after our 11th Anniversary Facebook Live event, we received a lovely card from Birgit in Maine who told us about how she met five women from across the country through the Papertrey Ink blog. In her beautifully crafted card, Birgit said, “Colleen, Linda, Nancy, Marcia, Kara and I are building lifelong friendships, and it all began with your company.”
Two weeks ago, the six women from across the country met for the first time at the Craft House in Newton, Kansas. For the past five years, Birgit, Marcia, Colleen, Nancy, Linda, and Kara have been communicating and building a lifelong friendship through the online crafting world. The ladies “met” through Papertrey Ink blog challenges, like Make It Monday and other PTI bloghops and challenges. Their friendships grew as they commented on each other’s blogs and shared the love and passion for cardmaking.
For years, the ladies would say they should meet up and craft together, but with family, work, and vast geographic distances, it was always a “someday” idea. It wasn’t until Birgit experienced several personal losses in a short span of time that she realized life was too short. She sent her friends an email and soon enough, all six ladies found themselves crafting for three days in an old, colorfully painted Victorian house in Kansas.
For three days, the ladies spent their time sharing and teaching their different cardmaking techniques and special skills with each other. They practiced watercolors, embossing, distressed ink, pop-ups, and coloring with copics. Of course, there was plenty of talking, laughing, and smiles.
As Kara from Wisconsin said, “Paper crafters share a special connection. We have all experienced the joy of giving. Let’s face it, cardmakers make little works of art, seal them in envelopes, and send them out into the world hoping to share and encourage others. So naturally, when we meet a fellow crafter online or in person, we feel this special bond.”
For Colleen and Linda, who have been friends for 61 years and attended the very first Stamp A Faire in Cincinnati all those years ago, turning their “blogging friends” into “real life friends” was an incredible experience. While all the ladies share a love for cardmaking, it’s about more than that. Colleen said, “we have a connection, and I think I can speak for each one, but if anyone of us needs anything, the others will be there for support and encouragement.”
The three days went by too fast for the ladies, but they all plan to get together next year in California for another weekend of crafting fun. As Marcia from Michigan said, “We all brought projects to share, and we all agreed that we weren’t too worried if we had enough room to pack clothes as long as we could fit all our supplies in our suitcases!” These ladies certainly have their priorities right!
For many of us who enjoy the paper crafts, it’s hard to find others within our own geographic communities who love the craft as much as us, so many of us turn to the online world. As Papertrey Ink designers, we love sharing our creations on the Papertrey Ink blog. But, what inspires us even more, is seeing all your creations and ideas. For the past 11 years, we have built our own crafting community, and we couldn’t be prouder.
When asked what “crafting a community” meant to her, Birgit described it as “encouraging when something bad happens and joining in the happiest when good is happening.” For her, the idea was more of a feeling than a tangible thing. Nancy from California echoed Birgit’s sentiments by saying, “the crafting community has been something that has helped heal a mommy’s ‘empty nester’s’ lonely heart. When the last of my chicks left, cardmaking and scrapbooking provided not only a crafting outlet but friendships I could never have imagined.”
This year at Papertrey Ink, we want to continue to build a “Crafting Community.” In the coming months, you’ll hear more about our “Crafting a Community” plans, but it the meantime, we’d love to hear your stories. Have you met any of your “blogging friends” in person? What does “Crafting a Community” mean to you?