Metro Detroit's DIY network offers many paths to creativity

Whether it’s learning how to arm knit after work in downtown Birmingham or letter pressing your own business cards on a Saturday morning in Detroit’s Eastern Market, the options for embracing your inner creative side in Metro Detroit abound. That's because the region is home to a wide array of businesses and organizations that believe in not only supporting and promoting local artists but encouraging patrons to find their own DIY passions, too.


That Detroit is a city of makers and artists is nothing new; it's deeply rooted in the core of the city’s DNA, evident in everything from automobiles to music to food. What is new is the area's more recent evolution as a destination? and community? for crafters.

It all started with a fair

Since the mid-2000s, the area has become increasingly connected to the ever-growing craft and maker movement.


The first "indie craft fair" showcasing artists interested in breaking away from traditional craft fair norms took place in 2003 in Chicago. What started out as a neighborhood park craft fair has turned into a global event; Renegade Craft Fair now draws shoppers far and wide. In fall 2017 they'll set their set their sights on Detroit for the very first time. The maker mindset got underway in 2006 with the launch of Maker Faire, a now-global DIY showcase that can be found here in Michigan and around the world.


“Detroit has always been a very creative community, and we've seen the passion for DIY grow even more over the years with the modern maker movement,” says Bethany Nixon, co-founder of Handmade Detroit and the Detroit Urban Craft Fair.


“DUCF was the first indie craft fair of its kind in Michigan when it debuted in 2006, and we have been so thrilled to watch opportunities open up for makers in new locally owned stores and locally produced markets in the area since.


Handmade Detroit’s DUCF is one of several indie craft fairs in the area that bring together like-minded makers and shoppers every holiday season. Fairs like these and others such as DIYpsi and DIY Street Fair are designed as much to inspire shoppers to support handmade goods as to help them find their own DIY passions.


“There is so much innovation and so much drive in the Motor City,” says Nixon. “I can't wait to see what our community makes in the next decade.”


Jodi Lynn Burton is a local craft fair veteran, by way of her Detroit-based Jodi Lynn’s Emporium of Doodles, and creator of Detroit Craft Academy, a new podcast and blog dedicated to showcasing Detroit’s ever-growing collection of makers. She’s inspired by the creativity the Metro Detroit’s area maker community has to offer.

Jodilynn Burton of Detroit Craft Academy. Photo by David Lewinski.


“Detroit has changed a lot since I first started living In the city. I fell in love with the DIY community down here,” she says. “Everyone is really supportive of one another. Maybe it's a Midwest thing, but I feel like people are genuinely excited about what other people are doing.”


Museums get in on the maker movement


Meanwhile, businesses and cultural organizations have been keeping an eye on the area’s desire to fuel hands-on creative interests. The Detroit Institute of Arts offers drop-in workshops on for kids, adults, and seniors on everything from paper crafting to printmaking. You can learn the art of egg decorating this Friday. And Cranbrook Art Museum now hosts a monthly Museum Makery workshop series which offers attendees an opportunity to learn how to weave, make jewelry, and even needlefelt.

Sarah Doty. Photo by David Lewinski.


“The Museum Makery came out of a combination of things – access to a huge pool of talented MFA students at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, an education team interested in object-based learning and teaching directly from pieces in our collection, and what we saw as a community need for more active, hands-on art making opportunities in the area,” says Sarah Doty, Associate Curator of Education at Cranbrook Art Museum. “It just made sense to act as facilitator, planning and convening these separate parts.”


DIY businesses


New business models are evolving as well. The Detroit Artist's Market in Midtown, Berkley's Yellow Door Market and Ferndale's Rust Belt Market provide a craft fair shopping experience year-round.


West Bloomfield’s Made Studio + Market, founded by residents Christy Brennan and Katheryn Hansen, offers a combination of a local artist's market with regular DIY workshop offerings from area artists and makers, blending DIY goods with hands-on learning.

Christy Brennan at Made Market. Photo by David Lewinski.


“Made was developed with the idea of community in mind. We wanted to draw on local talent to stock our shelves. Our goal was to create a destination where our community could gain access to new artist and makers,” says Brennan. “We wanted to further develop that relationship by inviting the artists to come into the studio where they could present a class or skill to the community.”


Ready to learn something new? Here’s a collection of must-stop destinations and organizations that will help you embrace your inner crafter, whether it’s helping you stock your supply shelves or signing you up for a DIY workshop.


All-Around DIY

Detroit Institute of Arts - Detroit (Midtown)

Cranbrook Art Museum - Bloomfield Hills

Tech Shop Detroit - Allen Park

Maker Works- Ann Arbor



Have Ewe Any Wool?- Berkley

Woolly & Co. - Birmingham

Detroit Fiber Works - Detroit's Avenue of Fashion

Ewe-nique Knits - Royal Oak

Skeins on Main - Rochester



Haberman Fabrics - Royal Oak

Guildcrafters Quilt Shop - Berkley

Mabelena - Ortonville

Cristina's Quilt Shop - Rochester

African Fabric - Detroit's Avenue of Fashion


All-Things Greenthumb

Pot and Box - Hamtramck

Made Floral - Detroit (Midtown)

Telly’s Greenhouse and Garden Center - Troy/ Pontiac / Shelby Township

English Gardens - Eastpointe / Royal Oak / West Bloomfield / Ann Arbor / Clinton Township / Dearborn Heights

Blumz - Ferndale

Goldner Walsh - Pontiac



Signal-Return - Detroit (Eastern Market)

Ocelot Print Shop - Detroit (Midtown)

Salt and Cedar - Detroit (Eastern Market)

Hollander’s - Ann Arbor


Stock Those Shelves

Munro Crafts - Berkley

Greens Art Supply - Rochester

Blick Art Supplies - Detroit (Midtown) / Dearborn / Royal Oak

Scrap Box - Ann Arbor


And the list doesn’t stop there. Libraries, community centers, and even your favorite restaurants (check out Holiday Market's DIY cooking classes) in the metro area all offer great hands-on learning events. Wherever you look around Metro Detroit, chances are you’ll find something crafty.


Read more articles by Lish Dorset.

Lish Dorset is a freelance writer and crafter based in metro Detroit. Follow her on Instagram for crafty updates - @LishDorset.

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