Brett Bara is the mastermind behind Brooklyn Craft Camp, an epic Saturday packed with awesome food and hands-on DIY workshops about everything from terrariums to macrame. It’s all happening in Greenpoint on March 16th, and we’re excited to be a sponsor! Honestly, Brooklyn Craft Camp couldn’t have a better host. Brett is a published author, designer, blogger, and Jell-o mold enthusiast that puts her distinctive stamp on everything she does. We met to talk DIY projects, design, and local Brooklyn favorites.
What inspires you?
I’m most inspired by whatever I need or want in my life at a given time. What I love best about the DIY way of life is that you can make things exactly as you want them, personalized to you. So whenever I want just the right thing, I get very inspired to try to make it myself. So for the past two years since moving into a new apartment, I’ve been all over the home DIY projects, like making my own headboard, building floating night stands, learning to install light fixtures, sewing curtains — all that good stuff. But the inspiration changes all the time. My brother is getting married this year and I’m making his wedding cake, so naturally I’m cake-obsessed at the moment! And when fall hits, I get inspired to knit warm things. I’m all over the place with my projects but I like it that way!
What is the origin story of Brooklyn Craft Camp?
It’s always amazed me how whenever I meet someone new here in the city and I tell them what I do for a living, so many people respond by saying, “Oh I’ve always wanted to learn to knit/sew/craft/whatever but I just don’t know where to start and I really don’t have the time.” Meanwhile, I know that these skills really aren’t difficult to learn, and you actually don’t need a ton of time to do them. So, I had the idea to try to connect more people with crafting in a fun, accessible way.
Living in Brooklyn, obviously this is one of the epicenters of the DIY movement, so I just knew it would be a natural fit to combine all the amazing craft and DIY experts we have here in Brooklyn with people who are seeking a way to add more creativity into their busy urban lives. So I asked all my favorite NYC-area craft authors and designers to teach classes, then I added great food, good music and cocktails (because obviously those things make everything better!), and I realized I’d sort of created my idea of a perfect day… and Brooklyn Craft Camp was born!
The DIY projects on your blog are awesome! Any personal favorites?
Thanks! My new favorite right now is the crochet replica I made of my cat, Fifi. I just thought it would be a silly/fun thing to do, but when I put crochet Fifi next to real Fifi, real Fifi was not amused and she basically tried to kill crochet Fifi. The photos are hilarious, and I giggle like a crazy cat lady every time I look at them.
Another favorite is the west elm chandelier in my dining room, and I’m not just saying that because this is the west elm blog! I am SO proud of that project because I installed the chandelier myself, and doing that kind of serious electrical work is never something I thought I’d tackle. But I DID IT and every time I look at that light, I feel like a superstar.
One more project I love is the recipe I created that makes two (and only two) chocolate cupcakes. I developed the recipe after many years of wishing I could bake just a little something for myself to satisfy late-night cravings. It has turned into one of my most popular blog posts, and I’ve gotten so many emails from readers telling me all the ways that recipe has been useful in their lives. (Everything from romantic dinners for two, to special cupcakes for a kid with allergies, to a diet tool.) Even though they’re just silly cupcakes, it’s rewarding to see how something that you just put out there on the web can find a meaningful place in someone else’s life.
What are some favorite things about your Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn?
I lived in Manhattan for 13 years before moving to Greenpoint, always in tiny apartments (of course). So when I moved to Brooklyn and had SPACE to move around in, it changed my life. Just the process of decorating my apartment has taken my work to a whole new level, because I’ve been able to explore so many new skills and techniques. And of course on a larger scale, living in Brooklyn’s creative community is super inspiring. Just being around people who are doing interesting things is such a motivator for trying to do interesting things yourself. I don’t think I would be the same person or have the same career if I lived anywhere else.
As for favorite places in Greenpoint, the first that comes to mind is Calexico (I’m seriously addicted to those fish tacos) as well as Peter Pan Donuts. I also love the Rite Aid on Manhattan Avenue that’s built in an old skating rink which itself was built over an old theater. You walk in and you think you’re in a normal Rite Aid, but then suddenly you’re walking down a ramp and you realize that you’re shopping inside a big oval with a huge disco ball overhead and ornate theater mouldings on the walls. I mean, where else can you find that kind of weirdness and history while shopping for toothpaste?!
What is the Brett Bara theme song?