Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Mad Hatter Sewing Party

The Sweat Shop Paris closed. In 2012. It's 2014. How did I miss this? Because I don't live in Paris? Maybe. Because I haven't been there since 2005 and didn't have any plans of going? Most likely. But I had distant plans! Just so I could go to 13 Rue Lucien Sampaix in the 10th Arrondissement and visit that sewing cafe. A sewing cafe. Like a cyber cafe, but with sewing machines to rent instead of computers. And with coffee! And pastries. Add creative people making pom-pom sweaters or whatever crazy thing, and that's magic

I found out about The Sweat Shop in 2011. Browsing the stacks of the sewing/art section at my neighborhood library, I found a book that looked like this. A crazy collage of colors, snacks, fabrics and thread. A mad hatter sewing party. I had just moved to a new city, didn't know anyone and was sewing out of my closet. I was wishing for a community of creative types to share a space and ideas. The Sweat Shop was that. I remember telling my friend Mark that it was just what I wanted to be a part of someday, an open collective space that gave people the opportunity to create and discuss their ideas. A workshop and a living room. Like a book club, but with both minds and hands involved. 

In 2011 I returned the book to the library and forgot about it. I was starting to get costume design jobs and was focusing my energy there. Soon after, the library closed for renovation. It was an underground building, no windows. A great looking place from the outside (the book return shoot was a metal playground slide) but not the best place to be in for a long time. Last month it finally reopened, with three walls of all windows. I went to the grand opening just to browse and take in the beauty of the sun on hundreds of books. 

As I was browsing I suddenly remembered the sweatshop book! Somehow being in the space made me remember and by some trick of the mind/nieve hopefulness,  I thought it might still be there, hidden in the craft/arts section. I didn't even remember the title. 

Of course it wasn't there. But thanks to google and genius search words "french sewing cafe paris book," it came up! God I love the internet! My brain is too small and Google is too good. I reserved it, and in a week it was mine. 

It was just like I remember, but this time my circumstances were different. I wasn't reading it in my closet studio, I was in my sewing studio, on my huge sewing table. I had achieved half of what I wished for in 2011. I had a beautiful place to sew, I even drank tea and coffee there sometimes. I could actually realize a lot of the projects in the book. The part I didn't have, and still don't, is the community. A community of makers, creative partners that want to drink coffee and and make stuff. And talk about making stuff. And celebrate making stuff.  Like Adam Savage, like Nick Offerman, like The Panty Seattle, like A Beautiful Mess. I want people and I want learning! So I turn to the internet. That thing that is too good, and sometimes gives me exactly what I am looking for. 

Hey you, come talk and make things. 

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