The original Arts and Crafts Movement of the mid-1800s through the early 1900s was fueled by the machine age. Factories could produce more items less expensively because of advances in technology.
But many people didn’t like the uniform, mass-produced products and retaliated by making things by hand. People made tiles, furniture, jewelry, stained glass, books, textiles and household products with glazed pottery, hammered metals, carved wood, and leathercraft. The movement was less of a visual style than a philosophy; natural materials and motifs from nature were prevalent. William Morris, the movement’s figurehead, was known for creating elaborately intricate designs with interlocking vines and leaves and flowers. He designed wallpaper patterns and fabrics for Liberty of London that are both highly collectible and still being produced today.
The Arts and Crafts Movement spread around the world. Minneapolis became a hotbed thanks to the Handicraft Building where many students, future art teachers, and even Grant Wood took classes. The building still remains at 89 10th St. S., but unfortunately, is soon to be reconfigured in a development project.
We’re in a new Arts and Crafts era today. The DIY and Makers movements are alive and well in Minneapolis. You can hardly go through the weekend without hearing about an art show or a new makers’ space. Fine craftsmanship, high quality materials and a human touch are valued again today. While computers have been increasingly integrated into all aspects of our lives, making things by hand has proliferated.
Many stores have a local products section but at MINNESOTA MAKERS (1526 E. 46th St.) everything is made here. Owners Christa and Jay Kalk opened the store in May 2015. Christa makes beaded earrings and necklaces and sterling silver jewelry. Look for her birthstone of the month display. Jay cuts Lake Superior agates into the shape of the state of Minnesota for pendants. They are the most clever agate jewelry I’ve ever seen! Beautiful lines and sparkling quartz radiate out from the centers. They really show the beauty of nature.
In addition to their own prolific work, the store carries handmade items by more than 60 other artisans: turned wood bowls, wool caps, fabric handbags, scented candles, silkscreen prints, pottery, woven baskets, MN coffee mugs, and the cutest hanging strings of fish carved from branches.
Whether you’re looking for a housewarming gift, artistic inspiration, or for a place to sell your own work, Minnesota Makers is a worthy destination. (Open Wednesday, noon– 7 p.m.; Thursday–Friday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.)
LUNCH TIP: Tucked into the corner of the intersection is SISTERS’ SLUDGE COFFEE (4557 Bloomington Ave.), run by a set of identical triplets who love coffee. Pick up an espresso, chocolate chip shortbread cookie to go with your latte.