Underground Crafting with the Denver Craft Ninjas
Once a month in Craftsy’s hometown of Denver, CO, a group of ladies called the Craft Ninjas gets together in the basement of a local bar to craft, chat, and catch up on life. I went to my first Craft Ninjas event a little over a year and a half ago, and even though I can’t make it every month I always know it’s going to be an awesome time when I get together with my fellow Ninjas. I took some time to talk with Becky Hensley, Craft Ninjas’ founder and Head Ninja, to find out how she got the idea for a monthly craft-a-long, where she gets her inspiration from, and crafting in general.
Even though I can’t make it every month, I love the concept of Craft Ninjas. How did you get the idea for Craft Ninjas, and where did the name come from?
The idea started with friends. Honestly, I wanted a reason to get together that wasn’t at a rock show. I found that the only time we all hung out was at the front of the stage at the Lion’s Lair, a local music venue. It’s fun, but we didn’t really create anything or get to know each other outside of that context. And what started out as just a few friends has turned into a full fledged community of really stellar human beings that I get to hang out with once a month.
As far as the name, I always have to credit my good friend Miriam! Although it was a Democratic process, Miriam threw Craft Ninjas out there and everyone voted it in.
You do a different project each month, and they’re always awesome. I know I’ve made jewelry, bath salts, sugar skulls, and more. How do you find new projects, and does it ever get difficult to think of something new to do?
I find new projects by watching my Facebook community, paying attention to what is trending on Pinterest (but I take that with a HUGE grain of salt), and I imagine what I would like to do.
I definitely love feedback and often ask Ninjas for project ideas. I also LOVE when we have guests come in with a technology that they would like to share with our group. Everyone benefits when a peer instructor comes in with a project that they are passionate about! Sometimes, I do get a bit concerned that I won’t come up with something good…but it’s usually fleeting!
What’s the favorite project you’ve done with the Ninjas?
Probably the pasties project we did with Ooh La La Burlesque! Not only was it a little naughty and risque, but it was also filled to the brim with glitter and sequins! Glitter gets a bad rap, but you put it out there for Ninjas to use and they can’t help themselves.
My favorite part of Craft Ninjas is having scheduled time to just hang out and craft. What’s the best part about the group, for you?
Lady friends! In my younger years, I was a guy’s girl. I hated other girls. I was definitely threatened by other girls. But in retrospect I can’t help but think about all the rad girls I probably missed out on that were experiencing the same hurdles as I was. How, if I‘d been less intimidated, I might have found allies and advocates amongst my peers.
These days, I get really dorked out when I see ladies who met at Ninjas chatting on Facebook or planning to meet up at Ninja events. It warms my heart!
If someone wanted to start a Craft Ninjas branch in their area, what advice would you give them?
Um, well, first…let me know if you’re starting a Craft Ninjas branch! I want to help you make it awesome! But also, it’s important to remember that what Denver Craft Ninjas is, first and foremost, a FRIENDLY community. It’s not a clique and everyone is invited. I try to keep projects cheap so it doesn’t feel like a huge expense to be involved. No membership requirements – just show up and be you and be open to the project and the people! And be consistent! Once someone comes to Craft Ninjas…they want more!
Craft Ninjas meets once a month, so what else do you do to stay crafty in between?
I write a blog for the Denver Post and run a craft event business called Kunoichi Crafts on the side – I have tons of excuses to get crafty! I get inspired from time to time to knit or crochet, but sadly those projects often get forgotten when I’m in the midst of planning a project for Ninjas.
I’m embarking on a crazy craft adventure in the coming months that will be documented on a blog in the near future so that’s also going to keep me busy. Stay tuned! It’s gonna be kind of bananas!
What else would you like to tell the Craftsy community?
Art and craft is for everyone. It’s not proprietary! People have been doing things like knitting and embroidery for ages! There shouldn’t be any secrets or elitism around craft. It belongs to people that are eager to learn and share their knowledge. It’s crazy powerful and if you can be a part of that…it’s an inspiring adventure!
Thanks so much, Becky, for taking the time to share your thoughts about crafting with the Craftsy community! Are you inspired to start a Craft Ninjas group in your hometown? Visit the Craft Ninjas website to learn more about the group and to get in touch with Becky!