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Bringing the maker movement back home

Laura Martin, owner of hacer Santa Fe, poses with fabric for sale in her store. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Hago. Haces. Hacemos. (I make. You make. We make.)

Laura Martin, who grew up in Nambé, thinks northern New Mexico is ready for a translation of the maker movement. Last month, she opened a fiber arts store on Montezuma Avenue called hacer Santa Fe that will soon offer classes in knitting, crocheting and sewing. Martin wants her welcoming bungalow, with its roaring fire, to become the heart of a community of crafters.

Everything about Martin, from the sign for her shop (which aptly features a heart) to the dress and scarf she wore to greet visiting journalists, was made lovingly by hand. It’s a luxury of time and money that not everyone can afford, she readily admits. For generations, it was cheaper to make your own clothes than to buy them. But that’s not true any more.

Still, after a diet of disposable “fast fashion” from retailers such as H&M, she believes millennials like herself “are ready for a new relationship with objects,” one that focuses on creation, not acquisition.

It’s Martin’s conviction that people around her age – 32 – have been so inundated by technology that they’re yearning for the time and space to make things by hand as a respite from the nonstop demands of modern life.

Martin knows something about her crafting gospel. Before opening hacer Santa Fe, she most recently served as a multifaith hospice chaplain in Albuquerque, working night shifts and being on call to minister to the dying. Knitting and sewing provided a way to recharge her batteries, and an Albuquerque fabric store called Stitchology was a place to find interesting fabric and meet like-minded makers.

Bolts of fabric for sale at hacer Santa Fe. All of the fabric sold in the fiber arts store is natural. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Stitchology, Denver’s Fancy Tiger and a shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called Gather Here provided the inspiration for Martin’s latest venture, she said. When she was earning a master’s of divinity at Harvard, and later working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Gather Here helped Martin find peace of mind with its fiber arts classes.

But, truth be told, Martin’s love of fabric, yarn and crafting can be traced back to the woman she calls her madrina (godmother). It was Manuelita Romero who taught her to sew. Romero, who died in 2011 at the age of 100, was a helpful teacher during Martin’s youthful days as a member of the Northern Stars 4-H Club in Nambé.

“One of my happiest childhood memories is of going to the state fair and seeing a blouse I made behind the glass,” Martin recalls. “It didn’t win any prizes, but it was great to have been picked for the fair.”

Fiber arts is a way of life that goes back thousands of years in northern New Mexico, first with its Navajo textiles and later with the Spanish sheep-raising culture, Martin noted, and she was happy to be part of that tradition.

Working as a minister might not seem the best preparation for running a small store, but Martin is no stranger to the world of retailing. During high school, she had a job at a J. Crew not far from the Santa Fe Plaza and also worked for the purveyor of classic clothing during her years in college at Santa Clara University in California.

While she knows she can’t compete on price with big fabric or hobby stores, she has gone out of her way to have a variety of price points for the eco-friendly yarns and fabrics she sells. All of the merchandise at hacer Santa Fe is natural; no synthetics allowed.

Though not a quilter herself, Martin sells supplies for the craft because “there are lots of quilters out there.”

What Martin envisions for hacer is part store, part community center. She plans to teach small introductory classes in sewing and knitting herself in the classroom behind her store and also to allow people to rent sewing machines by the hour. The cost of the introductory classes will be $50 for 2½ hours, with all supplies included, while sewing machine rentals will be $10 an hour.

Martin will hire an instructor to teach crocheting, she said.

Mohair wool for sale at hacer Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Martin has a wheelchair ramp behind her store so her classes and shop are not limited to the able-bodied. She also wants to offer instruction at night so busy professionals can learn more about knitting and sewing. “There are classes around, but often the timing is geared to those who don’t work full time,” Martin observed.

Further down the road, she wants to offer “mindful making classes that make space for people to be present with their own spiritual beliefs.” Makers will bring their projects to work on during these silent crafting sessions.

While some might see a cross between a sewing class and a Quaker meeting as a little offbeat, no doubt there’s room for another form of spiritual practice in the City Different.

Like many crafting millennials, Martin isn’t ready to give up technology completely. You’ll find her online at www.hacersantafe.com, on Facebook @hacersantafe and on Instagram @hacer_santafe.

Hey, what’s the point of making your own clothes if they’re not “totally Instagrammable,” right?

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