Tuesday, January 7, 2014

She's Crafty | Renegade Craft Fair!

There were renegades everywhere in San Francisco's Concourse Exhibition Center on December 21 & 22 this year. Renegade indie-crafters and craft lovers, that is. If you have ever been to one of the free Renegade craft fairs, you will know that the San Francisco Renegade Craft Fair Winter Market 2013 was a huge event. Even the title is huge these days. You see, with a fair that's been offered twice a year, every year, and now, in six different locations, you need a number of words to distinguish one Renegade Craft Fair from another.

According to Wikipedia, the first Renegade Craft Fair was held in 2003 at Chicago's Wicker Park (you can see the first poster, down below). That Fair was a success, so they did it again the next year.  Then, in 2005, there was a Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, too. San Francisco joined the Renegades in 2008 with a Summer Fair at Fort Mason, and added a Winter Market in 2009.

RCF Chicago 2003. Original by Mat Daly

A Renegade Craft Fair was held in Los Angeles for the first time in 2009. The next city to join the fun was Austin, Texas, with a Renegade Craft Fair in 2010. Finally, the Renegade Craft Fair has become an international phenomenon with the addition of London to it's list of locations. The first Fair there was held in 2011 at a place called The Old Truman Brewery, and had planned to return in 2013 for a Winter Market.

RCF revelers at the 2013 SF Winter Market
When we entered the Exhibition Center, the sight that met us was at once overwhelming and inviting. There was so much to see, I thought we'd never be able to see it all in the time we had to see it--about 5 hours. However, we made a plan and started in on the left with some food, of course. After a really fresh and wonderful veggie wrap, I was ready to experience the fair up close. 

Beep. I make an efficent and tasty cup of tea. Boop.
Still in the food area, there was a booth offering lots of great loose-leaf artisan teas and some interesting strainers to go with them. Little did I know at the time that I'd be getting a cute little robot strainer with some minty green tea called Madame Morocco (I understand Moroccans love mint in their tea, and now I do too) for Christmas from my very attentive grandson, Andrew.

As we moved on, we stopped at a booth selling art prints by local artists. Although all the prices were reasonable, I found a great way to collect a few prints for only $5--postcards! My favorite is what, at first, just looks like the profile of an elephant swimming in a large body of water under a starry moon-lit sky. Then, when you look closer, you see that the parts of the elephant exposed above water are actually land masses; the tip of a tusk is an island, his head is a rocky promontory, and his back is the beginning of a continent. What a way to get lost in some great art!

At another booth, there were these cork coasters. Quite ordinary looking, until you see they have misunderstood song lyrics printed on them. My favorite here was still the Jimi Hendrix classic, "Scuse me while I kiss this guy," although I found many others to chuckle about. I should have bought them!

Malia here, and if anyone were to ask me to sum up my Renegade Craft Fair experience in two words it would be: absolutely mind-boggling. And since I'm a bit of a rambler, I'd also add: with a touch of euphoria. There is so much to take in! All the people, all the color, all the cool ideas...it's a whirlwind of awesome. And to help me remember what exactly happened in the vortex, I collect business cards at booths that have items I adore but can't purchase. I also take a lot of pictures.

My growing business card haul.
A fun machine with lights on it!
On the subject of actual acquisition of goods, I feel like a bloodhound sifting through all the weird and wonderful trying to find the few items that catch my eye. When almost everything appeals, I attempt to set firm boundaries. When something catches my eye, I admire, ask questions, and roll the price around in my brain. I thank the artist, take a card and move on. I rarely buy on the first pass. I like to go through the entire fair and sit with all the memories for a bit. Those items that I just can't get out of my head become contenders and those items I can actually afford make the cut.
I'm obsessed with these VOZ wooden bracelets!

And every year, without fail, I dream of a booth I might have at a fair like the RCF. What would I call my business? What would be my wares?

The RCF is a wonderland for the senses and as full of inspiration as it is stuff to buy. I definitely recommend a trip!

Until next time,

Kaye & Malia 

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