Artist looks to redefine craft – Press & Sun-Bulletin

Success of online communities like the peer-to-peer e-commerce site, Etsy, and the vision board photo sharing site, Pinterest, have created a worldwide marketplace for the creative-minded to share their wares.

“There’s a craft movement around the world,” Carly Barvinchak, 34, of Binghamton, said.

Barvinchak is one such creative mind, producing art which she’s named “functional fine craft.” Her work includes easy gift-giving pieces such as printed tea towels, wooden picture frames, papier-mache kitchen utensils and greeting cards.

“It’s functional pieces,” she said, “or craft made with care.”

Barvinchak, an art teacher at Binghamton High School, said craft is often misunderstood and considered elementary art.

“People think it’s easy, or it’s for kids,” she said.

She would like to see that change.

Of the two courses Barvinchak teaches at Binghamton High School, one is craft, and the class dives into everything from painting and sculpture to clay and batik, a technique of wax-resist dyeing.

A class of its kind was not available to Barvinchak when she was a student.

“People think it’s not something to be taken seriously,” she said.

Barvinchak has been creating gifts and adornments since she was a little girl.

“I was always the child, or the grandchild, or the niece making homemade cards,” she said.

She would even make earrings out of paper to match her outfits as a young teenager, scrambling to finish the project before school, and occasionally prompting a friend to point out a lingering drop of glue on her ear.

Barvinchak said her parents were a great support, and allowed her to explore her creativity.

“I never had one set area,” she said.

About a year and a half ago, Barvinchak turned her craft into a business. She chose the name Way of the Wind to describe the fluctuating nature of her work.

“That’s how I felt with my projects,” she said. “I’d start with one material and end up with another.”

Way of the Wind pieces have been featured at local craft shows and events, including Earth Fest, Owego Strawberry Festival and Sip & Shop at Black Bear Winery.

They are available at Black Cat Gallery in Owego and Sea Hag Soaps & Art Mercantile in Brackney, Pa.

“My goal is to be carried in stores,” she said.

Way of the Wind greeting cards have also been stocked at Roberson Museum & Science Center in Binghamton.

Barvinchak’s cards are an example of her commitment to sustainability, using scraps from old magazines to create ransom note-style cards. She also makes her own hand-cut stamps and reuses wooden and fabric scraps from other projects to fashion picture frames and papier mache kitchen utensils. For the holidays, Barvinchak has designed wine bottle covers, made from sweater sleeves.

“When I look at it from a different lens, it’s something completely different.” she said of the reused materials.

Craft is therapeutic for Barvinchak, an outlet she turned to when her son, Mica, was recovering from an illness.

“It’s this drive in me,” she said. “It calms me.”

Setting craft apart from traditional art is its function. Barvinchak said she must not only be in tune with what she’d like to make, but what other people need.

“This is art, but it’s also craft,” she said.

That’s how her second venture, Left Hand Art — a line of same sex wedding cards — came about, as Barvinchak filled a need her sister brought to her attention: not being able to find a suitable card for a same sex couple’s wedding day.

“You have to think, ‘What do people need?’ ‘What can they use?'” she said.

Riding the success of the virtual homemade marketplace, Barvinchak has set her focus on expanding her creativity and to push the craft movement forward.

“I like to continue exploring and trying new techniques,” she said.

Are you a creator? Email Katie Sullivan at ksullivan@pressconnects.com.

Carly Barvinchak

Age: 34

Home: Binghamton

Hometown: Binghamton

Family: husband, John; son, Mica, 4; daughter, Avry, 3

Education: bachelor’s degree in art education, SUNY New Paltz; master’s degree in art education, Elmira College

Hobbies: travel, being outside, reading, spending time with family and friends

Where to find her: Black Cat Gallery in Owego; Sea Hag Soaps & Art Mercantile in Brackney, Pa.; etsy.com/shop/lefthandartbycarlyWay of the Wind and Left Hand Art by Carly on Facebook