Inside Spring Bada-Bing: Five crafters who will make you want stuff

And the best kind of stuff is made by hand.

CREATIATE by Sarah Kathryn — Sarah Patro


What’s your origin story? Why patterns and stamps? You’re like the craftmaker for crafters.

In 2010, I was looking for a handmade skill that would enable me to work full-time from home. I learned and fell in love with block printing, which is essentially hand-carving my drawings into a sheet of rubber to create imprints. Soon after, I started selling my drawings as hand carved stamps via Etsy and soon was in over my head (and hands) with carving orders.

About a year later, I started laser-engraving my designs so that I could design lots of new work, create more detailed custom stamps for clients, and keep more inventory in stock (it was an extra bonus to own a laser engraver, which was totally my maker-dream!) Recently I really missed hand carving, so I began making hand carved stamps again to start a portfolio of unique surface pattern designs; and to sell limited runs of the hand carved stamps as well. I love that I get to work with small businesses and crafters all day long, and that my stamps can be a piece of the creative process for lots of other makers!

What’s your current favorite pattern?


Even though I love color (especially watercolor!), my favorite patterns are always organic shapes, hand carved and hand printed in black and white. My new branch pattern (above) is a perfect blend of all my favorites, so that’s got to be at the top of my list right now.


Stephanie Smith of Zass Design modeling, with the photo taken by Leonard Llewellyn Godwin.

Stephanie Smith of Zass Design modeling, with the photo taken by Leonard Llewellyn Godwin.

You don’t just make clothes, you make beautiful clothes, screenprinted yourself. Why?

I majored in Studio Art with a concentration in Printmaking at UNC, and after college, I got a job with a local screen printer. I loved the printing itself, but I was really nostalgic for creative design work.

In 2007, just before Christmas, I made a few fun designs for my family, but a couple months later, I also started consigning at a store downtown. This consignment income had potential to outpace my salary at that time–but I needed my job so I could access the industrial printing equipment. I knew other screen printers who worked in a DIY capacity, but I had been spoiled by the efficient machines I got to use everyday, and I didn’t want to take a step backward. My old boss and I worked out a solution that benefited us both, and for a couple of transitional years, I worked 10 hours a week at my day job in exchange for the use of the equipment at night.

During this time, I concentrated on establishing the name “Flytrap,” and I saved money to buy an old pickup truck, quite an upgrade from the scooter I’d been riding around on. After the holiday season of 2010, I was ready to purchase my own equipment and rent a commercial space. Ever since that day, with the luxury of my own studio, I’ve been discovering and refining what Flytrap really is and why I care about it.

It’s important to remember I was doing a lot of “growing up” all this time. My husband and I bought an airy old house in 2012, and since we weren’t renting, we got to plant a garden we’d actually be around to see the following year. We got married, got to know ourselves better, and quite simply put, I found I’m a lot more interested in keeping spreadsheets of my plant specimens than I ever would have predicted back in 2007 when I was getting started. All these years later, at the heart of it, it’s no longer about design or about screenprinting, which is tough to admit because I love both of those things. It’s really about the content of the designs–the plants themselves, the magic of watching our tender little shoots coming up each spring, the sea and its amazing artifacts, the origami creations that catch my eye. My clothing company connects me with other women who love the same things I love: comfortable cotton clothing, rich colors, and botanical design. I get the satisfaction of helping them find garments that look great on them and feel great to wear, and our interactions keep me connected to the world of gardening, canning, and knitting even though I work from home. It’s really a win-win type of situation!

What’s this backyard workshop like? It sounds delightful.

You are so right–my backyard workshop is delightful! On one hand, it has a lot of aspects that are as rustic as you might expect. The floor is made of wide hardwood planks that look very old and possibly hand-milled. My 12-year-old black lab has a bed underneath my conveyor dryer and sleeps all day in the cozy heat it puts out. On nice days, we open up a set of double doors, and it’s a lot like printing in the open air. Out back, I planted a little shade garden, so while I wait for my equipment to heat up, I sometimes go out and do a little weeding or remove pine needles, or sometimes I just sit and take a moment for myself on really chaotic days.

On the other hand, in the interest of authenticity, I have to tell you about the more industrial aspects which are just as much a reality! We have two pieces of equipment that are royal blue and weigh over 500 pounds apiece. The floor is braced up with stacks of cinder blocks to make sure nothing goes crashing through it! We produce such a high amount of lint that if I don’t shop vac every single week (which I most certainly do not), accidentally dropping a garment on the floor means putting in some quality time with a lint roller and silently promising oneself to be more careful next time. You might expect the walls to be covered in artsy, framed prints I discovered at flea markets and on Etsy, when in fact they are painted the most boring gray, approximately the color of drywall, and the only thing hanging on them is a clipboard. We need the space to be as neutral as possible so there is no color cast, and I can mix inks accurately in the changing light of morning, afternoon, sunset, and fluorescent, pizza-fueled late night print sessions. Add in a whole lot of audiobooks and coffee and you’ve got a pretty complete mental portrait.

What’s your current favorite piece of clothing that you’re carrying?

We had our spring photo shoot yesterday, and I’m bringing all my new items with me to Richmond. Shoppers at Spring Bada Bing will be among the first people to lay eyes on our new Paper Crane Maxi Skirt, which I plan to live in all summer.

JOIN OR DIE KNIVES — Brent Stubblefield

Why knives? And why these kind of knives? And what common goal do we need to unite against?


I was taught to make knives by old hippies in Chicago at an inner city mission where I lived for seven years. The people that started the live-in community in Uptown Chicago believed in self-sufficiency, and many members practice traditional skills and crafts as well as serving the poor and marginalized.

Knives combines many areas of interest for me such as metal and wood working, the opportunity to reclaim and salvage materials, and they allow me to be a part of important events in people’s lives when I make a custom piece for a special occasion. It’s easy to find a high quality, affordable folding pocket knife. I provide larger, one-of-a-kind knives made with special materials.

And what common goal do we need to unite against?

There are many problems that can be solved by community cooperation. Immigrants are NOT taking our jobs in America. Large companies are outsourcing jobs because of our demands for low cost goods and services. We are ruining job opportunities in this country by our unwillingness to pay the real cost of the products we buy. From government subsidies on food and petroleum to a disposable goods culture, we are living in an unsustainable bubble. While this specific problem is complex, it is an example of one we can raise awareness about.

Community has the power to begin to change the culture that is rendering us helpless consumers and transform Richmond and America.

MARIGOLD MARS — Cristin Morgan


Are you making embroidery cool? Because I love it.

I learned a few basic embroidery stitches in a middle school art class and have loved it ever since! I started Marigold Mars last year and have really enjoyed the journey so far. I definitely try to keep my designs modern and fun. Hand embroidery is thousands of years old, but it doesn’t have to feel that way! Contemporary embroidery is having a huge moment right now. There are so many artists out there doing some really amazing things. It’s not just for grandmas anymore!

What’s your current favorite piece, or what are you working on right now that you’re excited about debuting?


I’m really excited to debut my new embroidery kits at Spring Bada Bing this Saturday! Embroidery can be a little overwhelming to someone who’s never tried it, so I’ve tried to make it a bit easier by including everything they’d need to get started and create a piece of their very own. I’ll also be debuting a few new jewelry designs this Saturday, which I created with Spring in mind. I’ve also been working on a lot of custom pet portraits lately, which are so much fun. I’m always so honored when people ask me to stitch something so meaningful!

S TECTOR METALS – Sarah Tector


How did you get into metalwork? And why jewelry?

Grateful for the creatively encouraging environment in which I grew up, I headed off into life with the following advice from my parents, “Choose something that makes you happy.” With a metal design degree, from East Carolina University, and several sessions at Penland School of Arts and Crafts, I tried my hand at different art related jobs in different cities (gallery owner, jewelry design for a manufacturing company, and studio assistant). I have now settled in Raleigh, NC, splitting my time between my studio and teaching.

I was initially considering a degree in graphic design when shopping for college. While checking out East Carolina University, I was happy to discover their phenomenal fine arts program. Once ensconced at school I discovered the sculpture and metals studios. Two weeks into my first my first metal design class and I was hooked. In my time there we did everything including forming bowls, making custom silverware, and of course wearable sculpture, better known as jewelry.

My style and sense of design has always gravitated towards clean, simple, and mostly geometric forms. While I mainly work in sterling silver, cast bronze, and powder coated pieces, I do enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone into other materials and mediums. Over the years I have made custom, one-of-a-kind, limited edition, and production pieces of jewelry and small sculptural objects.

What’s your current favorite piece of jewelry that you make?

It is truly hard to pick one piece above the others. It honestly depends on what part of my brain I am in as to what I want to work on any given day. My newest powder coated pieces though are in heavy rotation for what I wear the most right now. In fact as I type I am wearing my large “Dot” disc matte white earrings.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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