Angelica Schaaf and Tara Mendoza founded the Enchanted Artists and Crafters of New Mexico just four months ago, and already they've got big plans.
The two formed the group out of the ashes of a previous crafting circle, the Duke City Renegades. Schaaf explains that EACNM is more than just a crafting clutch. Becoming a member "allows people to take part in promotional things that we might do ... things like craft shows and any press that we might get. They'll be included in all of that. That's what we're looking to do."
While the creation of crafts is often a solitary undertaking, there's much about being a crafter that's communal. That's part of the driving spirit behind the Midsummer's Craft Crawl, an event organized by EACNM for Saturday, July 18, and Sunday, July 19, at Tiguex Park in Old Town. Booths manned by collective members will feature an impressive array of crafts, along with face painting, kids crafts and concessions supplied by Cupcakeology.
The Craft Crawl, like the organization planning it, came out of past efforts by the Duke City Renegades, specifically its Fiesta de Frida. Schaaf says the Enchanted Crafters wanted to put on a two-day, medium-sized show and thought Old Town would serve as the perfect place. "We figured there'd be a lot of tourists and a fairly receptive art community," Schaaf says. The response has thus far been good.
Though craft fairs are a way for the larger community to see what the artisans of EACNM are up to, that's just part of the group's goals. Schaaf says they want to "bring awareness, not to the fine art community but generally the art community of New Mexico. We exist to do workshops to teach everyday people to do what we do, we support each other, we seek out promotional opportunities."
The range of their skills is impressive: crochet, yarn spinning, wood turning, recycled art, lamp work, glass blowing, painting and more. They're also interested in holding craft courses for kids. "We're hoping eventually," Schaaf muses, "to be able to go around to the schools and teach crafts."
While both Schaaf and co-founder Mendoza look at what they do as a form of art, it has business potential. Many crafters sell their wares on websites such as Etsy.com and ArtFire.com. The Internet has been a huge boon for millions of crafters. "It's opened a new door for ordinary people to sell online and become successful at it," Schaaf says. However, she and Mendoza agree that there's still so much more that could be done to create a virtual marketplace for crafters, and this is just the beginning.
Mendoza sees that the Enchanted Artists and Crafters of New Mexico can offer what guilds of old provided: structure and support. "Hopefully when we incorporate ourselves, we can formally be a guild," she says, "so that we can give everything we have toward the venture."