When the economy crashed in 2008, many Minnesotans hit rewind on the booming materialism of the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, retreated to their garages, and birthed the local modern-day maker movement.
“Recessions are a great time for innovation,” says Pamela Diamond, director of marketing for the American Craft Show. (Note: This interview took place in early 2020.) “Craft is about materiality: to reuse, to repurpose—to not just throw away.” With DIY derring-do, we mixed ’70s scrappiness and 21st-century tech, rising up on Etsy, Pinterest, and what Diamond calls the “absolutely perfect” platform, Instagram.
What has distinguished Minnesota from the rest? “I attribute it to the weather,” Diamond says. “It keeps you inside.” Plus: Midwestern work ethics, good schools (“MCAD’s first-class”), and our arts institutions. “I mean, this is why the American Craft Council moved from New York to Minnesota 10 years ago,” she says.
Today, Minnesotan makers are finding inspiration all over—telling stories with straw, concrete, and honey. “How do we use these materials that are surrounding us?” Diamond poses. “Someone’s gonna make something out of it.”
Get to know six of those someones in Minnesota—and, at the bottom, check out our Minnesota Makers Hall of Fame, in addition to four rising stars:
The Beekeeper: Worker B
Beeswax and honey products do a body good. Read more.
The Paper Botanist: Woodlucker
Life springs forth from Ann Wood’s mixed-media creations. Read more.
The Brewmaster: One Fermentary & Taproom
Ramsey Louder reinvents the craft and culture of beer. Read more.
The Potter: Liz Pechacek Ceramics
Liz Pechacek fires gallery-worthy pottery inside her garage. Read more.
The Furniture Maker: Concrete Pig
Keith Wyman’s modern furniture defies expectations and weight restrictions. Read more.
The Milliner: Celina Kane
Handmade hats make stunning statements. Read more.
Minnesota Makers on the Rise:
Kathleen Meier’s aprons are elevating the look and function of this kitchen essential item while advocating for wellness in the local restaurant industry.
Duluth wood mosaic artist Anna Bailey operates the Makers Movement Collective Studio.
South Minneapolis fermenter with an eye on building a more-inclusive DIY scene.
Sustainable fashion from Kathryn Sieve has expanded into zero-waste home goods.
Minnesota Makers Hall of Fame
Even more local makers of note:
Muralist and 10,000 lakes iconographer
Organic popcorn in vibrant flavors
Hot sauce, happiness in a bottle.
Durable, North Shore goods.
A Minnesota original.
Pristine glass light fixtures.
Belts, bags, and wallets.
Ubiquitous winter hats.
Where makers of all sorts are made.
The most stylish and durable footwear around.
Museum-piece watercraft and paddles.
The craft brewer that paved the way.
Products for life, made out of wood.