Reclaiming the powerful practice of gathering and crafting by hand, Brooklyn’s Ravenous Craft began as seven women who barely knew one another and transformed into a coven that meets once a month to cook, share, create and experiment under a full moon. Inspired to share their ritual of earth-conscious upcycling and communal connection, this tight-knit crew of creatrixes now offers tutorials and monthly classes on everything from candle casting and tincturing to wood burning and woven wall hangings.
Last month, Slutist got the chance to participate in their balm and salve workshop at Catland, and made enough peppermint lip balm and rose petal infused salve to last through summer. The women from Ravenous who led the workshop initiated the class into their method of scavenging and foraging for ingredients while showing us the skills required to create beautiful, all-natural items you’d normally spend a fortune on — all while radiating a welcoming, energized (yet low-key) vibe.
Ravenous Craft’s call is to “reconnect with your wild nature,” so we chatted with three of the coven’s members, Marielle, Mallory, and Erin about how they accomplish this together with their crafty sisterhood.
Learn how to bind books by hand this weekend with Ravenous Craft. Details here.
Kristen: I’m a writer, curator type person — I don’t make stuff with my hands — but I felt so accepted at your [balm and salve] workshop and thought, “I can handle this,” even though I went in thinking, “Oh shit, I’m gonna be so bad.”
Marielle: That’s one of the most important things to us. And we all have some level of social anxiety type issues, so for us being the ones to make other people comfortable is great.
Mallory: I like that you brought up the fact that you wouldn’t call yourself a “worker with your hands.” Because that’s actually how this whole thing started. I read a lot about the theoretical foundations of the political economy, I’ve read The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, and I have this constant understanding of where we are in history as a predominantly service based economy. I think a lot about how much of the beauty of daily life we’re losing by not crafting things with our hands. The impetus for the first year of the Ravenous Craft Coven gatherings that we have was initially based off this hunger to make more things with our hands.
Erin: Even if we suck at it…let’s just try it out.
Mallory: Yeah, like let’s just start making these things ourselves and see which of these we have certain proclivities toward. And then what came out of that was that there was so much beauty in the act of getting together to make things that we just created this magic almost.
Marielle: You go in with the same craft idea and materials and you end up with seven different results (there are seven of us) that were all equally distinct and amazing. You can really feel the creativity.
Mallory: That’s what magic is. Developing the intuitive creative self.
Erin: When we started we didn’t know each other at all. Mallory brought us all together. It’s kind of intimidating meeting a whole bunch of other women, but everybody was immediately so welcoming you felt like you were already home. So I’m glad you got that feeling from the workshop, too.
Kristen: So you all meet every full moon?
Mallory: We always meet on the full moon. In New York everyone is always so busy and it’s nearly impossible to get seven people together on the same day without planning months in advance. That’s one of the more practical elements of having a set schedule and gathering during the full moon. You can look at the calendar for the whole year and make sure you’re around for them.
Erin: The other cool thing is just from meeting on the full moon I’ve become aware of moon cycles in general. Like looking up to the sky and seeing whether its waxing or waning I can know when the next dinner is and see how much I’ve done or how little I’ve done.
Mallory: Charting progress based on the moon cycle is an ancient practice. It’s a great way to look at the month and set your schedule for what you want to accomplish during that month. But the real reason I initially chose the full moon for our gatherings when they started years ago was that we’re all into heavy metal and the occult, and I’ve always related to wolves and wanted to base it off the wolfpack like “howling at the full moon!” — but it’s also really practical.
Kristen: What are the kind of backgrounds of the original seven in the Craft Coven?
Mallory: Well when we first started, we all had day jobs. Now we’re at various points of transition in making the leap toward working more on our creative endeavors. Erin makes jewelry [Cult Sisters], Marielle is a fashion and jewelry designer [Cozen], Natalia started making jewelry too under Mother Night, Des makes really beautiful salves and candles, Rachell is a fantastic baker, and Rosemary is the last one of the seven and she works with bikes.
Kristen: What about you?
Mallory: I’ve always been inspired by food, it’s been my entry point into working with my hands, and I’m also really into herbalism, making tinctures, syrups, things like that. My current project is a dinner series where I’m creating immersive dinners on traditional Pagan feast days based around the seasonal shifts.
Kristen: So what was your first meeting like?
Mallory: The impetus for the first Ravenous dinner was that I knew all these rad women one on one, and growing up, I was always more of a lone wolf (rather, Erin and I were like sister lone wolves) so I figured, let me try joining together some of my favorite babes to see what the fuck happens. And that first night was magical. We made beeswax candles…
Marielle: There were explosions, knife wielding [laughs]
Mallory: We all got real and crude and vulgar and listened to metal. No conversation topic was off the table. This was long before the witch trend, but Rosemary kept making fun of me because at the time my kitchen had so many dried herbs and jars all over the place, and a cauldron, and she was saying, “I keep feeling like you’re gonna take some children and boil them.” And we were like, “yeah! we’re like a coven.”
Erin: But that’s the thing, our boyfriends and whoever else we’d mention that we’re having a monthly full moon dinner would say, “oh are you going to go meet with your witches? Are you meeting with your coven?”
Marielle: Eventually if people would ask though, we’d say, “Don’t worry about it.” We’re having such a good time that we don’t need to tell other people about it. It’s just for us.
Erin: But then as we learned more about the history and archetype of the witch we really related to it. The gatherings are for growing and developing and bonding with each other, and it doesn’t end up just being about the dinner and the craft. It’s about our lives and bringing things to the table and setting intentions and making sure that we are all communicating with one another about things you don’t necessarily talk to your significant other or co-workers about.
Kristen: And you’re defying that whole narrative of other women as competition.
Mallory: Because that’s a constructed narrative!
Marielle: Yeah, we also admire and acknowledge each other’s differences and flaws. A lot of people especially in girl groups acknowledge people’s flaws but as a fault. We just see them as a different way of looking at things. There’s no jealousy or expectation. We have a very good understanding of the differences among the group and can be better people because we can help each other. It’s a positive thing to be able to see things differently.
Kristen: There’s room for everyone.
Erin: The inspirational memes on Instagram normally bother me, but that one that’s like “I hope we all succeed” — that’s kind of how I feel about this. We would never say “your seed art isn’t as good as my seed art.” I miss Roth and Rosemary [the two coven members who moved to the west coast] because they were the impetus for a lot of things we’d try for a while. It was cool to make things you’d never have tried before because of supplies or money or whatever.
Marielle: Yeah, whoever hosts will decide the craft, buy the supplies, then we all chip in for the cost of materials.
Kristen: So there’s five now?
Marielle: We consider them part of it even thought they’re doing their California Dreamin’ thing now.
Erin: As we realized how awesome of a thing this was, it not only helped us as a group but individually, we thought this should be something that everyone should experience. Mallory started an Instagram to document the things we were making. People started saying, “Oh my god I want this for myself” and wanted to join us, but the whole thing is that it’s a close-knit personal thing that we want everyone to develop on their own. Right now I’m talking to someone in Portland who’s trying to start something similar.
Mallory: Yeah, I mean women gathering in this way is not a new concept. I think it’s been silenced for many years with the banishing of the witch and satanic panic but it’s part of our DNA as wild women. It’s time for the coven gathering to make a reappearance. I see the Ravenous Craft ethos as a natural thing that feels intuitive and will propagate like wild spores.
Marielle: It’s just something we tried and loved it and want to share it.
Mallory: Because of the overwhelming positive response, and all the comments from people saying they wanted to join, I figured we would try hosting workshops to give people the tools to start their own covens, and to post craft tutorials and recipes for group meals on the Ravenous Craft website.
Kristen: What are your future workshops going to be about?
Mallory: We have two workshops lined up for now that are going to be book binding which Erin will lead, and the other will be the basics of herbalism and tincturing. People can sign up at www.ravenous-craft.com/classes. All of our crafts use natural materials, like recycled elements or foraged items from the park or nature instead of going to Michael’s to buy materials that will end up in a landfill. Ultimately what we’re trying to do is promote sisterhood, awareness of the environmental impact our consumer driven society has had, and develop intuitive and creative prowess.
To stay up to date on workshops, events, and dinners, sign up here.