Yesterday I went to the amazing Renegade Craft Fair in Soma , San Francisco, along with my cousin Mel and his girlfriend Cynthia. It was perhaps the best craft fair I've ever been to, with 250 stalls selling metric tons of amazing, handmade crafts and arts.
It was really inspiring seeing all of the creative work in the hangar-like Concourse Exhibition space. The vendors were a combination of local artisans and people traveling here from across the United States for this moving celebration of handicrafts.
Despite the shopping season, I found the crowds to fairly managable even at its busiest. And folks seemed quite upbeat and friendly, bopping their heads to the DJed music, chatting amiably with each other and the vendors, drinking beer and snacking on baked goods sold nearby. Definitely a fun ambiance for perusing and shopping.
Of course, with all of the handmade goods, and many of the shoppers clearly being of the DIY-mindset, many of us were thinking "I could do that!" when we saw a handmade ornament or broach. Knowing this, the organizers had put several maker booths around the hall where you could create your own terrarium, ornament or necklace. I kind of regret I didn't make my own terrarium bauble!
I wish I had more disposable income right now to shop and help out more local artisans and small businesses. I was only able to make a few purchases, which I'm very happy about, and got the business cards of other vendors that I hope to shop from later.
One of my favorite finds was "Yes & Yes Designs" a one-woman operation run by Laura Bruland from Oakland. Laura makes these lovely handmade pins and magnets using lasercut recycled materials, typically old wood, chalkboards, and book covers. Lasercut wood and paper was clearly a theme this year, made popular by the increasing accessibility of lasercutters from such places as Techshop. Every other booth seemed to have some sort of lasercut doo-dad.
I liked Laura's use of materials, textures, and colors on her lasercut work. And I'm a sucker for anything vintage scifi. So I had to have the robot and the raygun, with the chalkboard word bubble for good measure. You can write any message you want on the word bubble, which was a clever touch.
Other great recycled materials I saw were old maps made into broaches, filmstock made into ribbons, cymbals turned into jewelry and typewriter keys made into cufflinks. Maybe almost anything can be transformed into art with a little creativity and effort. Maybe anyone can create art and share it. Maybe even me.