Digging up the ‘underground,’ DIY music scene in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids

From singer-songwriters to heavy metal bands, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids breed a wide variety of musical acts. Dozens of artists make up the local music scene, but not many receive the recognition of concert-goers in the area. Naturally, the local DIY scene — united by the “do it yourself” idea that art shouldn’t have barriers to entry, and that anyone, regardless of skill or status, should be free to make art and share it as they please — tends to operate underground while the artists are often shrouded from curious music fans. Some local venue owners are working to change that […]

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Macrame: That ’70s home decor trend is groovy again

Disco may have died, but another quintessential part of the ’70s is making a comeback in today’s homes: the art of macrame. Macrame is a type of textile using decorative knotting techniques. The primary knots are square knots and different combinations of half hitches, or simple overhand knots. It originated in 13th century Arabia, eventually […]

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This weekend: Iowa City hosts more craft fairs and holiday markets than you can shake a (beautifully decorated) stick at

Craft Fairs

Each year, the season of conspicuous consumption reaches its inevitable anticlimax when we gather around and, regardless of our individual traditions, realize in unison that all our gifts look the same, have the same disposable smell, make the same dumb noises and come from the same wretched factories. This year, be the exception to the […]

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Crafty: Step up your table presentation during cocktail hour with this easy cutting board project

This project requires untreated hardwood. Maple, walnut, cherry and hickory are nice tight-grained woods that work well for this project. They are high-density varieties that are not scored easily when cut upon. This keeps bacteria and moisture out for a cleaner, longer-lasting board. Hardwood can be sourced from local lumber suppliers as well as big box hardware stores. Look for a piece that is at minimum 6 inches wide. Adjust your width and eventual length according to intended use and personal preference. […]

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Block It Out: DIY Fabric Printing


Supplies Brayer (ink roller) Printmaking/linoleum block (found at art supply stores) Carving tools (found at art supply stores) Fabric printing ink Rolling pin Cardboard Paper Fabric Step One: Sketch out an image or a pattern you like on a piece of paper. You can then transfer this sketch to your linoleum block freehand, or you […]

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Black Magic: DIY walnut bitters for an adventurous cocktail

I was on a run in Northside when I tripped on what looked like a green golf ball on the sidewalk. It wasn’t a golf ball; it was an unhulled black walnut (Juglans nigra), and the sidewalk and street were littered with them. I’d heard tell of harvesting black walnuts for their distinctively rich nut […]

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Photos: DIY music and IC underground house shows

A few years back, I visited Iowa City for the first time and went to an electronic show at a house that’s nicknamed the “Breast Imagining Center.” A small group of people were gathered around the fire outside drinking beer from John’s Grocery, waiting for the show to start. When we heard the first muffled […]

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Crafty: Knot your average plant holder

Macramé is a knotting art that dates to the 13th century, and while it has been popular for a while, it is definitely having a moment. Hanging planters made from knotted rope can be found in the home decor departments of big box stores and hipster retailers alike. But macramé hanging planters are cheap and easy to make on your own; they’re also a great way step up your balcony, patio garden or living room.

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