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If you're looking for friends with similar interests, or simply to be inspired about a particular creative pastime, the web offers a wealth of interactive resources for crafters and hobbyists of all kinds.
Networking online with other people who have the same interests can be a great way to learn more about your craft, find resources and meet new friends. E-mail discussion lists and bulletin boards or forums all offer opportunities to network with fellow crafters from around the world. Interacting with other craft enthusiasts online can sometimes be more fun than creating the crafts themselves! Called "online communities," resources such as mailing lists and message boards often turn into just that - a community of friends who share each other's interests and passion for crafting.
Many of these groups start out sharing tips, ideas and resources, and end up working cooperatively on charitable projects or sharing fun activities like swaps and exchanges. Some groups even travel from all areas of the country to get together face-to-face for shopping trips, retreats or just to have fun. On my first trip to New York City a few years ago, a group of online sewing friends and I all met for the first time under the clock in Grand Central Station. It was an unforgettable experience.
Bulletin Boards, Message Boards or Forums
One of the most common resources available for crafters online is the bulletin board, sometimes called a message board or forum. If you are looking for new ideas or a place to ask a question about crafting, a bulletin board might be the perfect place to start. The more members or users of the board, the more interesting and varied the discussions will be. Bulletin boards are usually organized by a general topic such as "painting," "cross-stitch," "scrapbooking" or "general crafts." Within each board you will find a series of postings organized by date (with most recent first) and discussion "thread." For example, a question about what brand of glue gun to use might generate a series of responses or other questions about glue guns. This conversation is considered a discussion "thread."
At any point in time you can visit a bulletin board and start a new discussion thread or answer other postings. However, you will probably have to visit the board again to check for responses to your question or to further participate in a discussion.
E-mail Discussion Lists
E-mail discussion lists are my favourite interactive resource. They come to me on a daily or weekly basis and I don't have to go looking for them. I can read them right away or save them for later. I find it is possible to get to know fellow mailing list members quite well through their repeat postings.
E-mail discussions are usually on a general topic such as quilting, sewing or soap-making. However, some lists are quite specific. For example, a list could be limited to only the owners of a specific brand of sewing machine. Each posting to the list is delivered to every subscriber. You can usually choose to receive your posts as they are contributed (be prepared for a lot of e-mail) or once a day as a "digest" of all the day's mail.
There are many outstanding web sites that offer interactive resources for crafts, sewing, quilting and needle arts enthusiasts, but here are just a few to get you started. Join the fun!
Lisa Cahoon is an Internet marketing and web-site design consultant based in Mission, B.C. Her business, Virtual Advantage New Media & Marketing, Inc., designs and develops independent web sites for associations, businesses and individuals across the U.S and Canada.
Lisa also publishes Get Creative! (www.GetCreativeShow.com), an Internet magazine/show for crafting, sewing, quilting and needlework enthusiasts and writes articles on Internet marketing and web design for a number of international craft and sewing publications. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and comments.
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