City Guides · Resources

The Crafty Guide to Bloomington, Indiana

Hoosiers know that Indiana is more than just Indianapolis. A little city just to the south of the capital has quite a crafty reputation, and we asked fellow conner and all around crafty badass Talia Halliday to create this crafty city guide to Bloomington, IN.

Public service announcement: The next Midwest Craft Con is Feb, 16-18, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio, and tickets are on sale now!

I’ve been lucky enough to call Bloomington home now for (omigoodness) almost 20 years and, honestly, around every corner just about every day there’s a new public art piece being installed or a new art co-op being founded. It’s amazing to live in such a small town with a heart and public hand in the arts. Our little town is so supportive of everything we do, be it an art fair, a handmade store or a mural spanning a city block. It’s a pleasure to call this artsy city home. — Talia Halliday

gather, indie craft store, bloomington indiana

Crafty Stores

116 N Walnut St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Gather is located in the heart of downtown Bloomington and carries the handmade work of over 300 makers from the Midwest and beyond, focusing on modern and independent handmade designers. Gather also hosts bi-monthly craft nights and is home to a monthly changing gallery as part of Gallery Walk Bloomington.

The Venue
114 S. Grant St., Bloomington, IN 47408
The Venue is located in a quaint Victorian house just off Kirkwood Avenue, close to Indiana University, focusing on “the finest in artistic and functional, handcrafted works of art.” They also host weekly events spanning from art talks to music.

By Hand Gallery
101 W. Kirkwood Ave. Suite #109, Bloomington, IN 47404
A handmade art gallery co-operative featuring ceramics, textiles, paintings, drawings and woodworking, as well as an extensive jewelry selection.

Made at Artisan Alley
222 W. Second St., Bloomington, IN 47403
Made focuses on selling the artwork of emerging makers in the Bloomington area. Artisan Alley is also the home of businesses including venue rental, artist studios, art galleries, co-working space, music studios, a cidery and so much more.

Honorable mentions: Global Gifts, In a Yarn Basket, Pygmalion’s Art Supplies, Kleindorfer’s Hardware, Friends of Art Bookshop

Places for Makers

1609 S Rogers St., Building 4, Bloomington, IN
Bloomington’s very own hacker space! A space for sharing tools and knowledge to make stuff! Bloominglabs is Indiana’s first maker space.

Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center
122 S Walnut St., Bloomington, IN
The John Waldron Arts Center houses a unique blend of artists, performers and educators. They host many stage performances, four galleries and art classes for all ages.

I-Fell Building
415 W. Fourth St., Bloomington, IN
Located on the near-west side of downtown Bloomington, the Fell houses working artists’ studios, small businesses and a bakery.

FAR Center for Contemporary Arts
505 W. Fourth St., Bloomington, IN, 47403
Opening in 2018, FAR will be host to a gallery, library, venue rental space and so much more.

Honorable mentions: Artisan Alley and the Monroe County Public Library

Craft Shows

  • Bloomington Handmade Market: Organized by Gather, BHM will be celebrating 10 years in 2018. BHM has a holiday show the second Saturday in November featuring 80+ indie makers at the Monroe Convention Center. And in 2018, BHM will be rolling out its first outdoor summer fair on the first Saturday in June.
  • Fourth Street Art Fair: Created in 1977 and held over Labor Day Weekend, Fourth Street Art Fair is one of the premier fine art fairs in the Midwest, featuring artists and craftspeople from all over the country.
  • Honorable mentions: Art Market at the Fell Building and Weekends at Artisan Alley

Best Vintage

Cherry Canary
214 W. Fourth St., Bloomington, IN 47404
The best place to find in vintage clothing in downtown Bloomington. Nuff said.

Bloomington Antique Mall
311 W. Seventh St., Bloomington, IN 47404
Located in one of Indiana’s most vibrant downtown districts, the Historic Bloomington Antique Mall features quality antiques merchants, artists, and artisans, in 50 showcases and 120 booths.

Jeff’s Warehouse
424 S. College Ave., Bloomington, IN 47403
The place to go for mid-century modern furniture and fixtures — also home to a funky fun mix of industrial fixings and decorative arts.

Crafty Hangouts

Cup & Kettle
208 N. Walnut St. #100, Bloomington, IN 47404
This tea shop downtown makes their own loose-leaf teas and serves local coffee and pastries. Locally owned (of course) by two strong lady bosses and makers, the shop hosts monthly craft nights, knit nights, games nights and more!

235 W. Dodds and 212 N. Madison, Bloomington, IN
Best coffee shop in town owned by the best people. Hop has two convenient locations, the best modern style and the tastiest coffee.

Rainbow Bakery
201 S. Rogers St., Bloomington, IN
Also in the Fell Building and owned by the family behind Hop, Rainbow is a vegan bakery that has amazing pasties, donuts, muffins and cookies. The Twin Peaks references and the plant wall make this my favorite!

Talia Halliday is the owner of Conduit Press, an arts business specializing in hollow books and leather goods. She also organizes the Bloomington Handmade Market with the help of a few very opinionated minions and runs her own brick-and-mortar shop called Gather in downtown Bloomington, IN. 


Group Discounts for the Con!

bring a friend to midwest craft con

When it comes to Midwest Craft Con, we say the more the merrier! So when you bring more than one person from your business, you can get their additional tickets at the early bird price. That’s a $50 savings per person! The rooms at the Embassy Suites Dublin sleep up to four people, so you can make our craft business conference your DIY business retreat.

When buying your 3-Day ticket, enter the access code COMEWITHME to unlock the Partner 3-Day Pass, and you can add one, two or even three of them to your order. We’ll add all of you to the private Conner Facebook group, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of the Con: sessions to strengthen your business, DIY sessions to tickle your crafty bone, and social hours to get to know your creative kinfolk. Hope you’ll join us in February!


Support Midwest Craft Con this Giving Tuesday

Midwest Craft Con became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2016, which means any sponsorship dollars and donations are considered tax-deductible. This Giving Tuesday, we hope you’ll consider giving to Midwest Craft Con to support your fellow makers!

You know running a handmade business is hard. Sometimes the help you need to get to the next step is out of reach, and that’s why we created a scholarship fund for makers in need. We believe coming to the Con can be the turning point for a crafter, artist or maker who needs a hand up. When you buy your ticket for Midwest Craft Con, you can chip in a few dollars to our scholarship fund. Even if you can’t make our 2018 event, you can still donate via Eventbrite or via PayPal. Every dollar you give helps us bring more makers to the Con!

With generous donations of our conners and sponsors, we have been able to award multiple scholarships each of our first two years, and this year we will have at least four scholarships for full-weekend passes available, thanks to the Greater Columbus Arts Council! Scholarship applications will open January 1, so stay tuned and sign up for our email newsletter to be notified when it starts.

giving tuesday, midwest craft con, scholarships, donations

News · Resources

Shop Handmade Stores Across the Midwest!

Whether you’re a crafter looking for new markets or a crafty fan looking for shops to visit on your next road trip, this list of indie craft stores of the Midwest is for you! Inspired by our Crafty City Guides, we created this directory of Midwestern handmade stores to help out our entrepreneurial friends. This list focuses on physical retail locations across the Midwest (and some adjacent states) where handmade products from local and national makers are in the spotlight. Check out the full list here!

handmade stores of the midwest, indie craft store list


Look who’s talking at Midwest Craft Con 2018!

The third edition of Midwest Craft Con, happening Feb. 16 to 18, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio, is going to be chock-full of craft business sessions, inspiring keynote talks and hands-on workshops.

Our keynote speakers are the Crafty Chica herself, Kathy Cano Murillo, cartoonist and pug parent Gemma Correll, and Kelley Deal, a knitwear designer who is also in a little band called the Breeders.

kathy cano murillo, kelley deal, gemma correll, midwest craft con keynote speakers 2018

The breakout sessions on craft business topics range from marketing and PR to accounting and legalities as well as getting into wholesale and scaling up your operation. The speaker lineup for 2018 includes some familiar faces as well as new friends! Such as:

There’s just too much good stuff! Check out the whole lineup here.

midwest craft con 2018

The hands-on workshops are new this coming year — we’re working to make these activities free for attendees and totally casual. You’ll be able to drop in to any session that inspires you. Details to come!

You definitely don’t want to miss out — tickets are on sale now!


Join us in 2018!

kathy cano murillo, kelley deal, gemma correll, midwest craft con keynote speakers 2018

February may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. If you get your ticket today, you can write off the cost of the conference ticket on your 2017 taxes!

Our keynote speakers are the Crafty Chica herself, Kathy Cano Murillocartoonist and pug parent Gemma Correll, and Kelley Deal, a knitwear designer who is also in a little band called the Breeders.

Our theme for 2018 is Never Craft Alone and our headquarters will be the Embassy Suites Dublin, a new, more affordable location for our Conners that offers perks including free parking, wi-fi and breakfast!

And the breakout session lineup is still being set, but our speakers so far include Tara Swiger, Mei Pak, Vickie Howell, Kim Werker and Betsy Greer! Plus we are adding more craftivities, lots of DIY workshops, midday stretches, pool activities and and all the googly eyes you can handle!

The three-day ticket is $249, and rooms in our block at the Embassy Suites are just $99 per night and sleep up to four people. Click here to get your ticket on Eventbrite!

midwest craft con, craft conference ticket sales


Kathy Cano Murillo, the Crafty Chica

kathy cano murillo, the crafty chicaKathy Cano-Murillo is an author and artist who you surely know by her chosen name: the Crafty Chica! She spreads the gospel of glitter — literally through her DIY projects and figuratively through her speeches, workshops, books and essays. A former syndicated columnist for The Arizona Republic, she is now a full-time creativepreneur, which has led to multiple Crafty Chica mass retail product lines, and partnerships with Coca-Cola, HSN, HP, WordPress, Disney and many others. She has written seven craft books and two novels, and somehow still has time to sleep. Kathy is Mexican-American, a native Phoenician, a mom, wife and owner of five Chihuahuas.

We are thrilled that the Crafty Chica will be joining us in Columbus, Ohio, for Midwest Craft Con 2018! Meet the woman with all the glitter:

How would you describe your work to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

I like to describe my work as Mexi-Bohemian! Everything is Latin-inspired, has a lot of color and a meaningful purpose. And I try to make everything functional!

How does your heritage influence your crafting?

It influences it a lot, it comes to me naturally. I got tired of not seeing what I wanted in the stores so I decided to make it myself! I like to take traditions and give them my own spin to make them different.

You were one of the first modern crafters to make it big — how have your goals changed since you got started?

My foundational goals have always stayed the same — to offer tutorials and art that makes people say WOW! And art that  reflects culture in a positive way, with function and style. I’ve always wanted to strive for community, and it has grown all along. I’m really happy about that!

What would you be if you weren’t an artist?

I would 100% be writing novel after novel in the genre of women’s fiction. I have two under my belt and a third one on the way. There’s room to do both passions, I work it into my schedule!

What will you talk about in your keynote?

I would like to talk about having a bigger vision for what we each do — finding that signature style that makes you stand apart from everyone else. Ways to look like the money we want to charge, the art of evolving and growing, staying relevant.

What three things would you recommend to makers?

  1. A sketchbook to record ideas for when you feel uninspired. You can go to your book and flip through, and I guarantee the inspiration will return!
  2. Taking a workshop in a new genre and leaving your personal tools at home. Just go in with a clean mind and learn from scratch!
  3. Motivational and/or business audiobooks or podcasts to listen to while you work!

What are your pro tips for crafters heading to a conference?

Have some kind of freebie to give away — a link to a free download, or a charm you made. It’s a way for people to remember you and keep what you give them! Create a Twitter list of people you meet so you can follow them and keep in touch. And use the conference hashtag in all social posts to become part of the story of the event!

What are you looking forward to most about Midwest Craft Con?

I’m from the Southwest, so I’m always excited to leave my comfort zone to meet and connect with new people. I’m nervous and excited! I LOVE all things crafty and celebrating the handmade movement. We each have something unique to share and offer. I feel our community is brilliant, generous and open to help each other grow. I’m really proud to be a keynote speaker, because this topic is near and dear to my heart!

Get crafty with Kathy Cano Murillo at Midwest Craft Con in Columbus, Ohio! The event is Feb. 16-18, 2018, and tickets are on sale now!

City Guides

The Crafty Guide to Pittsburgh

It’s hard to find a city much craftier than Pittsburgh: It boasts one of the longest-running indie craft shows in the Midwest and is home to a wonderful ecosystem of shows, shops and artisans. We asked the illustrious Al Hoff — the founder of Googly Eye University and the recipient of the 2017 Midwest Craft Con Memorial Fun Run Craft for the Cure Lifetime Achievement Award — to write her definitive guide to crafty stuff in the Steel City, and this is it.

Who will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in February 2018? You’ll have to be at Midwest Craft Con to find out! 


4209 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
It’s a craft fair in a store! This charming shop has everything you need in greeting cards, paper supplies, jewelry, books, artwork, doodads, T-shirts and more. Special emphasis on Pittsburgh-area crafters.

The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh
1635 McFarland Road, Mount Lebanon, PA 15216
You can’t this big barn-shaped store just outside Pittsburgh, which provides a marketplace for local crafters and artists, selling everything from jewelry to housewares. The big space also serves as an arts and cultural center with a gallery, classrooms and a cafe.

Society for Contemporary Craft
2100 Smallman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15222
The decades-old space present contemporary art in craft media. Offers exhibitions of national and international artists in its gallery space, as well as classes, hands-on activities and a retail store. Located in the Strip District, which offers dozens of specialty food stores, everything from local sausage to fresh tortillas.

Commonwealth Press
691 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon, PA 15228
The go-top spot when locals need a snarky T-shirt — to buy, or have made. Pittsburgh-proud rules here, with fun sports tees for the black-and-gold teams, but also shirts that celebrate neighborhoods, bridges and Pittsburgh’s infamous parking chair.


Tech Shop
5423 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Need to use a laser cutter or a 3-D printer. Gotta do some milling, welding, soldering or CAD? Need to learn how? Tech Shop is an open-access workshop which offers both classes and worker space, because making stuff isn’t all pink yarn and greeting cards.

460 Melwood Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
The newly opened female-run feminist makerspace provides ground-level entry for folks looking to get creative, or learn how to be. Classes and open studio time available. Crazy cheap memberships, and open to all.

Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse
214 N. Lexington Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208
It’s the bargain bin of your dreams — a huge store filled with well-organized donated craft and assorted materials just waiting to be transformed into something else. Paper, fabric, plastic widgets, bits of wood, tiny toys, broken trophies and so on.

Artists Image Resource
518 Foreland St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212
The place for DIY screen-printing, lithograph and letterpress. Stop by on Tuesday and Thursday nights and learn how to do it. Then come back and make posters, greetings cards, T-shirts or whatever you want. AIR supplies the equipment and mentoring, you bring the ink.


Handmade Arcade
Pittsburgh’s first and largest indie craft fair. Started in 2004 with less than 50 vendors, Handmade Arcade’s annual show now features more than 150 vendors and a Hands-On Handmade area for interactive crafting and demos. The next show is Dec. 2, 2017!

I Made It! Market
This long-running indie craft fair is nomadic, popping up in unused spaces several times a year. IMI offers shows tied to events as well as holidays, including Valentine’s Day and the winter shopping season.

Three Rivers Arts Festival
Held in downtown Pittsburgh in early June, TRAF features not only an arts-and-crafts marketplace, but also ancillary gallery shows, family activities, outdoor art (often eco-conscious) and a variety of nationally known musical acts.

A Fair in the Park
An outdoor family-friendly arts-and-craft fair held every September, in lovely Mellon Park (formerly the huge front lawn of a Pittsburgh industrialist) adjacent to the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. A great way to meet arts and artisans while enjoying the (hopefully) sunny weather.


Jerry’s Records
2136 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Deejays and musicians come from around the world to shop at this massive vinyl emporium with the budget prices. It’s a Pittsburgh institution, and well located in the Squirrel Hill shopping district where you can supplement 12-inch purchases with baked goods, books and cheap Asian food.

Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer
This bi-annual vintage fair is a don’t-miss affair, featuring local vendors setting up drool-worthy displays of clothing, knick-knacks, vinyl, housewares, books and more. Often paired with a preview cocktail night, this is a be-fabulous and be-social shopping event.

Hey Betty / Eons Fashion Antique
5890 and 5850 Ellsworth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15232
These two long-running shops, located a couple of blocks apart in Shadyside, offer an amazing selection of vintage clothing. Everything you need from vintage evening wear and kicky 1960s beach togs, to jewelry and assorted accessories.

Who New Retro Mod Decor
5156 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
A well-curated collection of vintage furniture, housewares, art and knick-knacks. The stock leans toward mid-century, but you’ll never know what you’ll find.


East End Brewing
147 Julius St., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
A friendly brew pub where one can quaff on its signature Big Hop pale ale, plus seasonal beers. It’s a popular place for events such as Crafts and Drafts, which pairs a mini-marketplace with fresh pours.

Biddle’s Escape
401 Biddle Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15221
In a sea of bland chain coffee shops, local joints like this are to be treasured. Funky decor, friendly service, hot and cold drinks, plus pastries and panini. Basically, all you need.

Kelly’s Bar and Lounge
6012 Centre Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
This well-preserved neighborhood bar has everything you want in an old-school tavern: neon sign, glass-block windows, cozy booths and a wooden bar. Cocktails are cheap, the mac-and-cheese is a must, and in warmer weather, take the fun times to the backyard patio.

4606 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Vegan restaurants don’t need to be bland salads and blocks of tofu. Apteka transforms traditional Eastern European comfort food, like pierogies, into unique and tasty vegan fare. Add in an inventive cocktail program with housemade shrubs and syrups, and it’s a great evening out.

Need to take a road trip to check out Pittsburgh for yourself? Time your trip to a local indie craft show and make a whole weekend of it! 


The Introvert Life with Gemma Correll

gemma correll, cartoonist,When we asked our Conners who they’d most like to see speak at a future con, Gemma Correll’s name came up more than once. We live to serve the craft community, and we made it happen!

Originally from England, Gemma is a writer, artist and cartoonist residing in Oakland, Calif., with her trusty pug sidekicks, Mr. Pickles and Bella. Gemma’s published works include The Worrier’s Guide to Life, The Feminist Activity Book and A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette, as well as her award-winning eponymous series of quirky, humorous greeting cards and gift products that are sold all over the world. Gemma is particularly well known for her comics about mental health in collaboration with charities including Mental Health America.

Gemma will be giving a keynote talk at Midwest Craft Con 2018 in Columbus, Ohio, but until then you can learn more about her below:

How would you describe your work to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

My work is narrative-based illustration with an emphasis on simple linework, humor in the form of wordplay … and pugs.

You are so huge on social media — how do you manage your big following and still get work done?

The things I post on social media are the things that I’d be making anyway. I spend as much time as I can on personal work — it only takes a couple of minutes to post.

Have you ever been to the Midwest before? Any thoughts, questions or concerns?

I have been to Lincoln, Neb., and Milwaukee, Wis. At first, I was very overwhelmed by the amount of space in the Midwest. I grew up in England and now live in the Bay Area in California — neither of which are known for being spacious. But I actually enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with having more space and the more relaxed pace. I also find people in the Midwest to be very friendly. I’ve been to Louisville, Ky., a few times, and I know that’s technically the South, but it’s one of my favorite US cities.

What would you be if you weren’t an artist?

I’d be a teacher, a social worker or a psychologist, I think.

What will you talk about in your keynote?

I am planning to talk about where ideas come from, how to get through a creative block and then show you some photos of my pugs (because that’s what y’all really want to see!)

What three things would you recommend to makers?

Yoga (to help with posture and general mental health), animal companions and a good coffee maker.

What are your tips for introverts who are going to a conference?

Conferences can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re an introvert but you feel like you have to be “on” all the time. I take frequent breaks — if I don’t, I get very tired and overstimulated. Just having a short walk outside to grab a coffee really helps.

What are you looking forward to most about Midwest Craft Con?

I find it really inspiring to be around like-minded people. I work at home by myself and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. I really enjoy learning new crafts, too — especially when it’s just for fun (rather than for “work”). I’m also looking forward to visiting Columbus — I’ve heard good things about it, and there’s a tiki bar there that I’m dying to visit!

You can meet Gemma Correll at Midwest Craft Con in Columbus, Ohio! The event is Feb. 16-18, 2018, and early bird tickets are on sale now!


Tickets are on sale now!

Oh yes, early bird tickets for the 2018 Midwest Craft Con are on sale NOW! Click here to get your ticket on Eventbrite. Midwest Craft Con runs from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, Feb. 16-18, 2018, at the Embassy Suites Dublin, about 20 minutes north of downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Our theme for 2018 is Never Craft Alone. We are moving to a new intimate setting located about 25 minutes away from downtown Columbus to the concrete cornfields of Dublin, Ohio. Our headquarters will be the Embassy Suites Dublin, which is going to be more affordable for our Conners and offers perks like free parking and breakfast!

The Midwest Craft Con is a three-day retreat for mid-career crafters, makers and creative business owners. The conference includes inspirational keynote addresses, thought-provoking panel discussions, hands-on workshops and business-focused breakout sessions from experts from Ohio, the Midwest and beyond.

kathy cano murillo, kelley deal, gemma correll, midwest craft con keynote speakers 2018

Our keynote speakers for 2018 are the Crafty Chica herself, Kathy Cano Murillo, knitter and Breeders rockstar Kelley Deal, and cartoonist and pug parent Gemma Correll!

Breakout sessions will include expert advice on everything you need to know about running your small business, from marketing and social media to legal and accounting advice to ideas for stoking your creativity. Speakers joining us in 2018 include Stephanie Dyke, Betsy Greer, Vickie Howell, Mei Pak, Alison Rosen, Tara Swiger, Kim Werker and Adrienne Wiley! Plus we are adding more craftivities, LOTS of DIY workshops, midday stretches, pool activities and and all the googly eyes you can handle!

What’s included?

Three days of sessions, panels and keynote speakers, plus fun maker-centric activities and ample socialization time. Your ticket to Midwest Craft Con gets you 24-hour access to the Embassy Suites. The Embassy Suites offers free breakfast and a happy hour every day, and parking is free, too! Note that you’ll be responsible for paying for your own room and meals that aren’t included.

When you register, we’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to reserve your hotel room. We highly recommend staying on site, as events will go late into the evening, and our contract is contingent on our people booking rooms. We’ve negotiated a special price of $99 for attendees, and you must book through the hotel reservation link to get this rate. (The suites sleep up to six people!) We’ll also invite you to join our private Facebook group for Midwest Craft Con attendees, where you can find someone to share a room with if you’re coming on your own!

We expect early bird tickets to fly away, so do not wait to grab your three-day-pass at the discounted rate of $199. There are only 100 tickets available at that discounted rate; after early birds sell out, the full-price ticket is $249. Get your ticket here!