Collaboration, Community, and Crafts: Meet Makers North!

Collaboration, Community, and Crafts: Meet Makers North!

Tracy Baker and Julieanne Steedman are the co-founders of Makers North, a collective of makers here in Northern Ontario. Tracy is an illustrator/graphic designer who, with partner Josh Turnbull, created The Awful Alphabet, a children’s book poking fun at the darker side of the alphabet. Julieanne paints and sells her original artwork as well as prints, cards and pillows of her paintings.

How did you come up with the idea to start Makers North?

Julieanne: I met Tracy a couple of times over the past year at different events around Sudbury. This summer we were both at an event and we got to talking about how there really could be more events for handmade artisans in Sudbury.

Tracy: Actually, we were complaining about this.

Julieanne: Yeah, I suppose we were! Later in the summer I really gave some serious thought about creating these events, but I didn’t want to do it myself. I messaged Tracy and we met up and it just sort of went from there!

Tracy: We’ve been blown away by all of the community support since we launched in August. It’s clear that other people were feeling the same way that we were and we can’t wait to see where this venture goes. We have some super exciting top secrets plans for the North and not just Sudbury. We want to include all of Northern Ontario.

How do you define a maker?

Julieanne: I think that some people see themselves as artists, some as crafters and some people don’t identify with either of these words. The term ‘Maker’ really encompasses anyone who makes something by hand.

Tracy: For instance, Julieanne and I both talked about how our fathers make beautiful things out of wood and metal. Neither of them however see themselves as artists, or as crafters. Yet the pieces they create really are truly unique, one of a kind, items made by hand. They really are ‘Makers’.

We LOVE your branding – who designed the logo and what’s the story behind it?

Julieanne: The branding I think, and I hope, really shares the idea of Makers North. We live here in the north and we like to make things. Tracy designed our logo and I think she really nailed it – the log slice gives you that Northern feel and the watercolour mark gives it the arty, made by hand look.

Tracy: Jules has this thing with names. She brainstormed like crazy and must have come up with at least 50 names. One day we decided we could really do this thing and the next day Julieanne had so many ideas; we just ran through them all, but we kept coming back to this one! It really encompasses all makers from visual art to music to textiles. We’re all makers!

The Handmade Holiday Market is happening in November. What types of makers can we expect to see at the event? Is there room for others, if so how do they get involved?

Tracy: The market is really going to represent some of the best artists and creators that Northern Ontario has to offer. You’ll be able to find pottery, artwork, stationary, baby items, clothing, jewelry, woodworking and more.

Julieanne: It’s a juried event and the application for this market closed last week. If you are a maker and want to stay in the loop and hear about upcoming events, be sure to sign up for our newsletter on our website.

Tracy: And if you want to lend a hand at the market – help with decorating or set-up, we also have a volunteer page on our website. We’d love help!

You mention on your website that you will be hosting workshops/art classes. What kinds of workshops can we expect to see?

Julieanne: One of our hopes in running events like the market is that we will be able to plan and host workshops and art classes. I’d like to see events like these for all ability levels.

Tracy: We’re hoping that we’ll be able to offer lessons and workshops free or at a low cost. We also want to host events that showcase Northern Ontario based music makers as well. There’s such a rich musical culture in the North and I feel like any chance to show that off is great. So any musicians out there who want to get involved in the market please email our music coordinator Josh Turnbull at josh@makersnorthcollective.com.

Do you have any other upcoming events?

Tracy: Just the market for now. But we have about a hundred other ideas so be sure to check the website and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated. There might be a few surprises happening soon (Yes that is a hint!).

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Emily Franceschini is a craft addict, Public Relations graduate and lover of all things purple. Her free time is spent taking photos of her dog and searching for the perfect cup of coffee. She’s a regular at Old Rock because who could resist their delicious Creme Brûlée latte? And yes – it is probably her 4th coffee of the day.

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