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Tag Archives | Craft Fair

Event Review: One Of A Kind Show Chicago

Reported by: Simone Collins

One of the best parts of living in the Windy City is the fact that not only do we have a large variety of galleries and museums to visit and take in some great art, but we also have some of the best craft shows and fairs around. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the One Of A Kind Show in Chicago.

The One Of A Kind Show offers consumers in Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago and New York a chance to purchase unique gifts during the holiday season. Featuring everything from jewelry, to ceramics, to sculpture, there is something for everyone on your shopping list. This year’s show in Chicago showcased over 600 artists from across North America.

This year, Etsy was a sponsor of the show. The site had a prominent booth that highlighted sellers who were at the show in a special Etsy Artist Pavilion. By making a purchase in the pavilion, shoppers received a free raffle ticket to win an Etsy shopping spree. They also had hands-on craft workshops that attendees could participate in throughout the four days of the show.

Within the Etsy Artist Pavilion area, there were several brand new artists to the show, as well as some of the best booths of the show. One of those booths was filled with some amazing glass art by Kit Paulson, an artist from our very own city. Her hip flasks, bottles, and votives would be a striking addition to any home.

We also met a very cute husband-wife team from the Etsy shop, Man vs. George from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This graphic design firm sells fun and modern greeting cards and invitations that are designed by the husband, Ryan Fitzpatrick, with his cat, George, as his armchair critic.

One of the cutest booths in the Etsy Artist Pavilion featured the work by Bunny With A Toolbelt from Portland, Oregon. These figures, created from upcycled wood and mixed media, were total attention grabbers with their unique sense of humor.

The sister-sister team of Muggy Tuesday, had some of the most interesting accessories at the show.  Their crocheted earrings, rings, and headbands would make the perfect gift for your best friend, sister, mom, or even your son’s first grade teacher.

Amanda Shell, designer of the Whirley Girl Etsy shop, grabbed our attention with her upbeat and friendly attitude. Of course, the fact that her work was amazing didn’t hurt either. This Chicago gal creates handpainted mirrors and other decor for your little one’s room.
One of the coolest things about this show is realizing just how many of these artist actually reside in my hometown. Karla Wheeler is another one of those artists. These metal days of the week bracelets would make the perfect accessory on, well, any day of the week.
You know you are a crafty geek when you see a QR code and get excited. Saul Mandel, designer of Bare Tree Designs, explained how this was the new trend in craft—and we couldn’t agree more. By snapping a picture this special little code, your smartphone can instantly take you the artist’s webpage or Etsy shop, and then you can favorite it or save it to your favorite web clipping program. Not only was he full of helpful techie information, but his screen printed items, like t-shirts and scarves, were gorgeous.
One of our favorite local sellers is Jen Hopwood of My Perennial. Her felt designs always wow us, and it doesn’t hurt that they also wowed Martha Stewart herself. Her snappy t-shirts let your kids change the look of their boring tees by simply snapping in a new felt cutie each day of the week. She also sells pillows, stockings, and felt bags that would make great gifts this holiday season.

Another local crafter that always draws a crowd is Emmy Star Brown. Her painted glass works are created using found objects around the city, and are always done freehand.

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

If you are still working on that holiday shopping list, there is still time to take the Handmade Pledge. We encourage you to support the crafters and artists of this world and buy handmade. With so many choices available online and at local events, buying handmade has become easier than ever. And with the most unique items to choose from, you can be sure to find something for the hardest person on your list.

Take the Handmade Pledge today!

Are you shopping handmade this holiday season? Been to a great craft show or fair in your neck of the woods? We’d love to hear about it.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Heirloom Productions Rubber Stamp Festival

Reported by Sara McKenzie

The weekend of June 5-6 I enjoyed one of my annual treks to central Massachusetts to attend the Heirloom Productions Rubber Stamp Festival in West Springfield. They always put on a great show, and this year I was able to spend some time with Sheila and Dave Carlson, who are the on-site representatives of Heirloom Productions at almost every show. They share the on-site management responsibilities with the owner, Pat Larson, and their co-worker, Nikki Webb.

Annually, Heirloom produces on average 15 rubber stamp festivals, from east coast to west coast, and in-between. You can see the entire list of shows by clicking here. They are two-day, weekend affairs, with workshops, make ‘n takes and demonstrations throughout both days. Many of the shows also have fee classes on the Friday immediately preceding the show, and an evening session of make ‘n takes on Friday night. The price is right too: $6 in advance for a two day pass, or $8 at the door on Saturday, for a two day pass. Sunday only is $6. You simply cannot beat this admission price!!

The view down one of the aisles of the Heirloom Show on Saturday.

At the West Springfield show, which is one of their largest, there were 43 exhibitors, and the attendance was expected to be over 22oo crafters!! I was there on Saturday, so the final attendance numbers were not yet known – but Sheila and Dave indicated that they always bring along more tickets than were used at past year’s show, and they had already sold them out and were into the extras.

Above: The ever-busy Stampland Booth.

Below: Darlene Domel, of Stampland, busily demonstrated her masterful
techniques of stamping, masking and stippling to create beautiful rubber art.


Most of the exhibitors at West Springfield return year after year, and not only to the Massachusetts show. Many also participate in shows across the country. The exhibitors in Springfield included nationally known brands such as Denami Design, Endless Creations, Marco’s Paper, and Stampland; smaller brands such as Stamp Zia (a favorite of mine!!), Impression Obsession, Invoke Arts, and Stampsmith. They also may include local stores, and even a booth for a direct marketing company such as Stampin’ Up! or Close-to-My-Heart. The exhibitors are listed in advance for each show; you can see the entire list of exhibitors at West Springfield here.

Above: Stampers eagerly awaiting the start of a Stampscapes make ‘n take session.

Below: a piece of lovely art representative of what can be created with Stampscapes stamps.


There is always a huge variety of merchandise for sale, as well. There are not only rubber stamps, but also embellishments galore, basic stamping supplies, tools, cardstock and decorative paper (of course!), brass stencils, embossing powder and glitter. And so on, and so on…. The majority of exhibitors have an extensive display of samples of artwork and are happy to allow crafters to take pictures for future inspiration. Below is an example of one, which inspired me to not only buy a few things, but to want to pull out all of my supplies as soon as I got home: it’s embossing using brass stencils and stencil paste.

Above: Sample board at Polly’s Pals, who carry the biggest selection of Dreamweaver brass stencils that I have ever seen in one place. The sample board shows all of the different effects you can get with stencil paste of various colors and finishes, with or without color, or glitter, or foil added on top. Below: The demonstration at Polly’s Pals booth. Tons of helpful hints and reminders on how to stencil with paste.


Do you know Sparkle and Sprinkle? Their specialty is embossing powder of every color in the rainbow, with and without added glitter. They were VERY popular.


Below is one of my favorite specialty shops: Vintage Charmings. The owner lives in France, and purchases all manner of vintage French ephemera and other ‘charming’ items for us to use in our crafting. And she makes a point of NOT purchasing anything in Paris, so the prices are very reasonable.

As I mentioned at the outset, Dave and Sheila Carlson of Heirloom Products very generously spent an hour with me on Saturday afternoon, sharing their experience in putting on these shows as well as LOTS of great stories! They are long-time friends with the owner, Pat Larson, and have been working with Heirloom for 7 years, producing the shows across the county. Sheila was originally a Stampin’ Up! addict, so rubber stamp festival management was a natural direction for her to go in. And Dave clearly loves people and loves to have a good time, so he is also a natural for this job.

In each city, they hire lots of local help: 2 people to help Heirloom, and another ~25 who are hired by individual vendors. These folks spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day in exchange for modest wages and free admission to the show. When I asked what made an Heirloom show special, they thought for a moment and then said, unequivocally, that it is all about making people happy. And this certainly seems to be the case: between the exhibitors who return year after year, to the attendees who stop on their way out to share what it is they purchased, the Carlsons are achieving their goal!

Sheila and Dave Carlson of Heirloom Productions, who were celebrating their
wedding anniversary at the Rubber Stamp Festival on Saturday, June 5.

This year I was unable to get away for any of the fee classes offered on Friday. But I have been many times in past years, and have never been disappointed. In West Springfield, they have been 1-2 hours in duration each, with 6-8 total classes offered during the day, and sometimes into the evening. So you can really get your jollies crafting the entire weekend!

If you are within driving distance of any of the locales for an Heirloom show, you should go. You won’t be disappointed. And for readers of Craft Critique: a discount for the remaining shows in 2010!! Just contact the main Heirloom office at (541)-574-8000 (Pacific time) by JULY 31, 2010, tell them you are a Craft Critique reader, and you get a two-fer: two admission tickets for the price of one! Thanks, Heirloom!!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Pitchfork Music Festival: Really, it’s Crafty!

Reported by Sarah Moore, Founding Editor

Those in the know about indi-crafts and the DIY movement are aware that Chicago has one of the greatest crafty communities around. We also host a ‘whoo-ha’ load of great music in our fair city. It’s really more than a girl tuned into the craft scene can keep up with. When I first became familiar with the Pitchfork Music Festival I dismissed it… I had heard of several of the bands, but despite my bright red hair and tattoos I am quite the suburbanite really. My ipod is filled with 80’s music and a guilty pleasure’s worth of Justin and Britney (don’t hate).

Then I saw an ad for Pitchfork in ReadyMade magazine… which you should be reading btw. They were going to be there, and sponsored by Benjamin Moore paints nonetheless! I called my musically aware younger brother and asked him about the festival, and he was all: “totally crafty, lots of crafts, craft SHOW in fact.” What the hay?

The Pitchfork Blog said nothing about craftiness, art, DIY, upcycle… none of my favorite buzz words. Under the vendor section there was nothing, na-da. Despite the lack of crafty marketing I took my brother’s advice and signed myself up for a day of music ‘festing’.

I only was able to make one day of the festival… the last, but according to the crafters it seemed to be the busiest of all three days. It was a small but meaty craft show. Coordinated by Coterie Chicago, the artists were all top notch. I really wish I had space here to cover them all. I encourage you to visit this page on Coterie’s website to check out more of the artists for further inspiration. I also apologize to those artists we were not able to include in this report. It wasn’t because we didn’t love your work.

Another topic of note: crafters are getting friendlier and are more willing to share ideas than ever before. In years past when you would ask a crafter HOW they made something or what inspired them even they’d clam up and give you that “oh, she’s going to try to make this herself” look. Nowadays they will tell you where they bought their supplies.

I think DIY artists have perhaps come to realize that there are two types of shoppers at a craft show; crafters, and buyers, and that even a crafter will occasionally buy from another nice crafter. 😉

So on with the inspiration… a lot to see here, so pour yourself a cuppa whatever and settle in.

Coterie Co-organizer Sarah Bortt with her very cool bags made from recycled tires and seat-belts. I dig that she has a bunch of tires sitting around just for crafting. That’s devotion!

As if you needed a reason to wear an eye-patch. My favorite; secret naps!
This is one of the cutest, most original ideas I have seen in a while.

One of the artists, Abby Ferguson, and her Obama patch.
This one is a journal… cool! I bought the paint-palate-patch, and not just because I love alliteration.

Booth neighbor and knitter Heather Baris sports an eye-patch too!


Heather’s work can be found at Girl With a Hook. I loved this free-form hat… I think it’s a hat I could actually wear. And I am not a hat person.

Adorable sock doll alert! Created with cuteness by Megan Lee.

Amazing art by Ashley Alexander at i’m smitten… and whoa that’s a cool website Ashley!


If you don’t love Duct Tape then you are no friend of mine. Eliza Bangert’s work is whimsical AND well crafted. I love these totes!

Hey, that’s a page from my mom’s yearbook! Great idea Eliza! She was also making custom cell phone holders right at the show!

Kathy Panek’s Swallow Kisses jewelry is an amazing example of shrink plastic work. She uses Prismacolor pencils and plastic direct from the Shrinky Dink people.

This is her newest line… very vintage, soft and sweet.

I was already a fan of her last line, that cool 40’s tattoo style is very me.

Not craft related really… except for the sign! But Girls Rock is a great charity. Go read about it and give them money… or sign your little girl up for Rock Camp! They have a show coming up on August 8th at the Metro… how cool is that! I am absolutely going.


Oh wow! A random act of crafting! Jocelyn Lally was knitting in a non-designated craft zone! She works with another great charity, the Arts of Life. They provide arts programs for people with developmental disabilities.

Here’s a story: Luisa Castellanos created Pock-it-Palz. Her mom was helping her at her booth because she is, get this, 16 years old. I mean wow. When I was 16 my mom was lucky if I did my own laundry. Luisa and I never had a chance to meet, but hopefully I will see her again at Renegade and get the rest of this amazing crafter’s story. You go Luisa!

Love these cute little key chains…


Light and pretty… and just sophisticated enough. These are porcelain coasters and other goods by Amy Carolyn Allison of SODA.

This design was one of my favorites. Treehouse… please.

Laurie Freivogel is not just a Coterie Co-organizer… she is way talented! She uses ground glass to silkscreen these unique fused glass pieces; coasters, rings, pendants…. The skirts and dresses below are created painstakenly from upcycled t-shirts! I told you quilting was back… THIS is modern quilting friends!




So much thanks to the very extra nice Coterie crafters. Despite Pitchfork’s lack of marketing on your behalf I think the event was wonderfully coordinated. All the crafters had quality goods to offer and the show was strategically placed to help traffic flow in and out safely, despite the madness going on outside the show.

Not covered in this story: Poster Row… and I am so sorry. I just don’t have room (in my brain) before CHA to give this topic the coverage it truly deserves. So stay tuned for part two of Pitchfork and the inspiration that the wonderful artists of Flatstock displayed at the show.

Oh, and there was music too… but if you want to read about that you will have to visit my blog in a few days. Better yet, just pop over to Venus Zine to read about what they thought, because they are cool chicks and Craft Critique loves them.

I will have my photos uploaded to my Flickr after I sleep awhile… gimme a day or two. Suffice to say it was an awesome show… in short: I ended up backstage at the Flaming Lips and was able to shoot photos in the pit with some amazing local photographers. Awesome!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!