Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Crafty Bastards

I do love a good craft fair. I don't go to many, unfortunately, but after our sojourn this past Sunday I'm going to make an effort to go to more. Many craft fairs, I find, are rather stodgy affairs with lots of "safe" crafts. Beaded jewelry. Nature photography. Pleasantly scented soaps. A lot of things involving ducks, for some reason. I always scour these fairs hoping to find that one vendor, often tucked into a dark corner because the organizers aren't sure they belong but needed the booth fee, who actually has a sense of humor. I mean, ducks are nice and all, but give me a good platypus any day.

Enter the craft fair of my dreams: Crafty Bastards.

Crafty Bastards happens twice a year in D.C. and is devoted to independent, alternative artists. Many of the vendors were local to D.C, Maryland and Virginia but others came from as far away as the west coast. The October event takes place next to Union Market, near Gallaudet University.

I never made it inside Union Market itself—the fair was under tents in an area to the right of the photo—but all indications are that it is a hipster foodie paradise. David took our daughters in there to eat while I wandered the booths and the girls returned utterly offended that the fries they got were sprinkled in ROSEMARY and fried in DUCK FAT. David said they were the best fries he had ever eaten and did not feel sorry for our children's unsophisticated palates in the slightest. There were also food trucks and we were pleased to see a truck from a Baltimore restaurant we've been dying to try: Dangerous Pies. We got a slice of chicken pot pie and roasted apple cinnamon chess pie to share and while we weren't calling out to God in ecstasy we did enjoy them very much.

I was pretty tickled that the very first vendor I saw was Resident.

Each one of these animal heads is made of folded paper AND they are sold as kits! The pieces are all cut and scored, and they come printed in a way that indicates how to do the folds. The kits come with instructions and a small bottle of glue. They are also expensive—but, c'mon, look at them, totally worth it—and someday, oh yes, one will be mine. But not yet. Because I am a woman who has a deep, abiding love for faux taxidermy of all kinds and I had another maker on my radar:

Zooguu! I've been following Jen Gubicza for a while now on Instagram and when I saw that she was coming to Crafty Bastards, that cemented my plans to come to the show. I even did a quick fabric sale on IG and sold a couple of my beloved Tula pieces so that I would have enough money to get one. I almost brought home a blue narwhal, but then Jen and my husband convinced me to have her make me one in colors of my choosing, so in a couple weeks I will be the proud owner of a lilac narwhal with a silver horn, mounted on wood to be buddies with my beloved Yeti, Grushenka, made by Yetis and Friends. Have I shown you my Yeti? If not, this is her. Isn't she the best thing ever?

And while we're standing there I notice that there are bins of some very interesting prints in front of her counter, and we're all flipping through them, exclaiming about them, and Jen tells us that it's all the work of her husband, Brian Gubicza. And as I'm flipping through, I hit upon this and any resistance I might have had just dwindled and I knew it had to come home with me:

This whole craft fair was murder on my wallet. But so many things were JUST SO ME. Such as these 5x7 certificates made with scout badges by Snarky Scouts:

It was a freaking miracle I stopped at four.

Then I came across Ugly Baby. I knew about Rosalie Gale's work because of a post on Abby Glassenberg's blog from 2015. In it, Rosalie wrote about how she and her husband built a business around waterproof rubber shower art. With glitter and tiny letters and little plastic toys, they created these wonderful and hilarious pieces that are meant to hang by an attached suction cup in your shower. How weird and wonderful is that? But then one day, on the site Instructables, someone who was definitely not Rosalie or her husband posted that they really loved these pieces made by Ugly Baby, so much so that she decided to post detailed instructions on how to make something very similar. At first, Rosalie was horrified to see her work used like this, just out there for anybody to do themselves and not buy from her. But then she thought about it and talked to her husband and realized that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I urge you to go read the post, because it really made me understand a lot about art and ideas and inspiration and with all the folderol with the MQG and their ill-advised post on derivation, I think Rosalie's conclusions are important.


And put it in my shower.

Also I have a weakness for notebooks and journals, and bookbindery is a craft I've always wanted to learn. So, I stroll over to Moonlight Bindery where I discover a book bound in one of my favorite Kokka prints:


I knew at this point I really had to stop. It was getting absurd. But then my youngest, Devon, and I discovered Cuddles and Rage. Sadly, I did not get any pictures at their booth, but their combo of cute and disturbing was right up Devon's alley, so we got her a tiny magnet shaped like a happy stack of pancakes (which she has spirited away already and I can't find it) and this wee little book:

At this point, I had to declare bankruptcy and stop, plus my kids were tired and getting bored and they had been real troopers, allowing me to see everything at least twice. But there were so many great things and all the makers were such lovely, friendly people it was all I could do not to hug each and every one of them and be all "I ADMIRE YOU SO MUCH." I just love people who throw their creativity out into the world and even dare to try and make a living from it, and I absolutely adore all those who bring a wicked sense of humor to the endeavor. None of the makers I met there really knew it, but they are my people. I'm happy and proud to put some money their way and if I have to have a little less Tula Tree of Life fabric to do so, well then so be it.

Totally worth it.

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