Monday, June 23, 2008

Report from the Renegade Craft Fair 2008

Many thanks to guest blogger Stephanie Carter (with additional reporting by Lauren Rosenblum) for taking great pictures and writing keen observations of the Renegade Craft Fair last weekend!

Steph and Lauren are good friends from grad school and wonderful writers, each with a taste for all things art/craft/design. Moreover Steph and I went to Renegade together two years ago, so she was reviewing the show as a veteran. I knew she was just the woman for the job when I realized I couldn't attend the fair myself.

I love Steph's finds, and her smart, fresh comments. Her coverage gave me a great taste of the fair, as I hope it does for you. So without further ado...!

Mustaches are the new owl. That was my observation at this year’s Renegade Craft Fair, held in McCarren Pool in Williamsburg. You know how, for a while, everywhere you turned, crafts—T-shirts, notebooks, jewelry, stationary, whatever—featured an owl… or a squirrel… or a deer. Well, there were still plenty of woodland creatures at the fair. But I also saw a lot of mustaches.

Mustaches? “Like a lot of the men in attendance had mustaches,” you’re thinking. No. I mean, the crafts featured mustaches. There were large, carved wooden mustaches to hang on the wall. There were little mustaches to use as a key chain, mustache brooches and mustache necklaces. Necklaces. I must admit I don’t see the attraction of wearing the shape men’s facial hair around one’s neck. But mustaches were certainly popular; plan on seeing them a lot in the coming months.

Before I left for the fair, I was listening to NPR’s Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. This week’s show featured an interview with artist Fritz Haeg. Haeg takes the typical, suburban, water-guzzling front yard and turns it into a vegetable or flower garden. He goes around the country and does this for various people’s front yards.

Kurt asked him why we should consider this "art" and not, you know, gardening. I couldn’t help but connect his response to the Renegade Craft Fair. He said that it’s easy, and at this point, cliché, to create something subversive using sex or violence. But he was interested in creating subversion out of everyday items, like a front yard. Or, with DIY products like the ones at the fair—knitting, letterpresses, ceramics, etc. Because these days, what’s more subversive than resisting our mass-produced, consumer-centric society than by creating and purchasing goods that are hand-made and one of a kind?

And with that, I’ll let you take a look at a few items that caught my eye and draw your conclusions about craft and subversion at the Renegade Craft Fair, with additional reporting by Lauren Rosenblum.

Ex Libris Anonymous Journals - Made from old books, the journals feature the actual covers of the books both inside and out. Here’s one made from a Hitchcock book for kids. The journals feature little details like book card inside left over from the previous owner. The journals also have a few pages of the original book before the blank journal pages start.

Because who doesn’t need a Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye suitcase? Imagine one of these guys rolling around the baggage carousel at JFK…
[Anyone know who did these? If so, email me and I'll put up the name and link.]

I saw these “stuffed” deer heads as a tongue-in-cheek take on the ubiquitous deer heads that appeared everywhere in home décor this past year. Plus, they’re soft and plush and colorful. [Anyone know who did these? If so, email me and I'll put up the name and link.]

This nightlight and wall hanging were at Fondue Art + Design. All of their pieces are made with vintage wallpaper. I loved the bright and colorful Pennsylvania Dutch feeling of these two things.

Measuring spoons, cheese board and holiday ornament from Beehive Kitchenware. Beehive’s stuff stood out from a lot of the other crafts at the fair. The lines and design were clean and happy, without a hint of irony. Their products are all hand-crafted using traditional methods and tools.

From Etui… I bought the cat card because it looks like my cat. But Etui’s prints stood out among the various stationary and printed materials. The eye-popping colors and stylized graphics just grab your attention and pull you in. And the lady bathers in their retro swimsuits were irresistible.

Screen-printed T from Supermaggie. There was no end to the screen-printed T-shirt selection. While Maggie’s aesthetic didn’t differ too much from the others’ at the fair, her designs and prints were more sophisticated and detailed; the amount of thought that goes into her products is clear.

Straw ribbon accessories by Cathy of California. These attracted my attention because there wasn’t anything else like them at the fair.

Typewrite Key Jewelry: Clever use of something from a bygone era. There were crowds at this booth throughout the fair. [Anyone know who did these? If so, email me and I'll put up the name and link.]

Delong Ceramics, one of the few ceramics vendors I saw. Their tiles and ornaments feature quintessential NYC scenes, like the above from the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York Public Library. It’s hard not to marvel at the level of detail these ceramics feature.

Nesting doll throw pillow made from felt and fabric by Kimberly Lewis.

Mustache necklaces. [Anyone know who did these? If so, email me and I'll put up the name and link.]

Thank you again, Steph!

Renegade Craft Fair 2007 (Brooklyn)
Renegade Craft Fair 2006 (Brooklyn)

Writing by Stephanie Carter and posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Images by Stephanie Carter or sourced from given websites.


cathy of california said...

thanks for the plug!
xo cathy

Michelle Stasha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michelle Stasha said...

the nesting doll pillows are done by