Songwriter Tift Merritt is a North Carolina native who wanted to be a writer until her father taught her guitar chords and Percy Sledge songs. Over the course of four studio albums, she has built a unique, uncompromising and critically acclaimed road of audio short stories. Emmylou Harris calls her a diamond in a coal mine. She has toured with Iron and Wine, Nick Lowe, Andrew Bird & Gregg Allman, appeared on "Austin City Limits" & "Late Night with David Letterman," been Grammy nominated for Country Album of the Year, and nominated for four Americana Music Awards. Currently at work on her fifth studio record, Traveling Alone, Tift also produces a handmade radio show, The Spark, which is a monthly conversation about process, integrity, and making things for Marfa, Texas Public Radio.
Tift lives in New York City with her husband who is also a musician. If you can't find her, she has probably rented an apartment with a piano in a town where she doesn't know anyone and will be back before too long.
MORE MAKESHIFT 2012
We had the best intentions of posting lots of pictures and stories from our Makeshift event yesterday and the day just got away from us. There IS so much more to come and to write about, but for the meantime, here some great pictures of the making process at The Standard East Village on Tuesday night. More to come soon… xoNatalie
Join us for our Crafted Fashion pop-up shop tonight at the Billy Reid store from 6pm-until at 54 Bond Street in New York City, with a performance by Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Tift Merritt at 8pm.
The beautiful Maria Cornejo talked about making as a way to build a brand.
Beads from Heath Ceramics were given to each of the Makeshift guests to incorporate into their “making.”
The sweet- and amazing designer- Tina Lutz who came into New York for the event. (Come to Alabama soon Tina!)
Photographer: Peter Stanglmyr
MAKESHIFT: The Fusion of DIY, Music, Craft, and Humming by Melanie Falick
Fashion, craft, and design communities find Mecca in Manhattan.
Tuesday night something amazing happened in New York City. More than one hundred people gathered at the Standard in East Village, a luxury hipster hotel on Cooper Square, and joined together for a sing-along and finger-knitting. Really. It happened. I was there. Everyone looked elated, from the handsome 20-something guy across from me (who I initially assumed was a supermodel but is actually an up-and-coming fashion designer), to the chic magazine editors and design company executives who were sipping wine before they settled into the low black couches.
Everyone who was lucky enough to secure entry into this unique event seemed transported by the simple act of transforming a length of cotton jersey cord into a knitted necklace, by taking an old folk song, riffing on a few verses, and making something new.
Singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash led the sing-along. Natalie Chanin, founder and creative director of the fashion and lifestyle companyAlabama Chanin, led the knitalong. The occasion was MAKESHIFT: Shifting Thoughts on Design, Fashion, Craft, and DIY, a panel discussion kicking off a week of MAKESHIFT events organized by Chanin. Also speaking were Cathy Bailey, owner and designer of Heath Ceramics, Maria Cornejo, designer for Zero+Maria Cornejo, and Jessamyn Hatcher, a professor of fashion studies and the humanities at New York University. Moderating was Andrew Wagner, a DIY columnist for theNew York Times and the editorial director of Krrb.
“It’s like a small Pandora’s box opening,” Chanin says of the evening in which the main topic of conversation was the joy and value of making. “Making is as an integral part of all creative, design, and fashion industries. A conversation has been started and we hope it will continue.”
Cathy Bailey of Heath Ceramics recalled the tour she took of the company’s factory back in 2003, before she and her husband bought it. “Nothing was outsourced, everything was produced there. I think that’s what gave it that energy, that hum. There was such focus.” Bailey had, until then, been working as an industrial designer, but “Design wasn’t enough for me,” she says. “Something is missing when you’re only designing, when you’re not making.”
Maria Cornejo concurred. After leaving the fashion business, in 1998 she decided to open a store called Zero, where she and her team gradually started making things. “We put a rack of clothes at the front of the store; if people reacted to them, we made more, she recalled. “I miss those days when it was so hands-on.”
I personally grew up in a home where the handmade was revered and I edit craft books for a living – in fact, I edited all three of Chanin’s books:Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, the one that just came out and inspired the initial plans for MAKESHIFT 2012. So, given my background and day job, getting together to finger-knit is not as novel to me as it is to a lot of people. Honoring the maker is what I try to do every day. And it’s what Chanin does in her books – in which she shares instructions for the traditional techniques with which her clothing and homewares are made. “We make fashion,” Chanin explained on Tuesday night. “And we teach people how to make fashion.”
Rosanne Cash, who is an avid knitter and recently began hand-stitching Alabama Chanin clothing, told us: “All I want to do is follow Natalie around whatever she does.”
Chanin’s mission for MAKESHIFT is to break down some of the walls that exist between the fashion, craft, and design communities in order to find a meeting place so that “every maker, as well as the designs, products, and lives they touch, will be enriched.”
If the openness of everyone’s faces as they formed their necklaces on Tuesday night is any indication, the walls are coming down.