I've always considered myself crafty. I don't mean that I'm particularly sly or cunning; I'm referring to the artistic definition of crafty. I can make things out of paper and I enjoy embroidery (especially when it involves Russian nesting dolls or hedgehogs). I've never tried to sell anything that I've made but I do like to give handmade items as gifts. I hope people like what I make. You can never really tell if someone is just being polite or honest when they tell you they like a handmade item. It's sort of like when you'd make something for your parents in elementary school; they had to like it and tell you what an awesome job you did. It's their job. As is lying occasionally to make you feel better. Go parenthood!
I appreciate the fine art of painting on roof tiles and making albums into journals or putting a bird on things. These are all things I can get behind. I like the idea that people can sit in their apartments or houses or their parents' basement and create something that makes them happy and in turn, brings some sort of happiness into the world. I also appreciate that these crafters have figured out the universal truth about humans: we will buy anything. Especially if it has a cute animal, gnome, or dinosaur on it. Humans are weak.
And so today, I found myself at Crafty Bastards, an annual arts and crafts fair in DC that I had never heard of until yesterday. A friend told me about it; one of his friends is one of the vendors and he was going to be there helping her out. When he sent me the link, the first thing I saw was that Berkley Illustration would be there. How could I resist?
If you don't know about Berkley Illustration you should take some time and visit their website. I discovered Ryan Berkley and his animal creations when I moved to California. My office has a holiday party every year and we were discussing the upcoming party and the gift exchange. Two of my co-workers kept telling me about this gift from the year before. It was a painting of a meerkat in aviator clothes. They called it Meerkat Amelia Earhart. No one had a picture of it so I decided to do what any other person in the 21st century would do: I googled "meerkat Amelia Earhart" and "meerkat aviator" and found my way to Berkley Illustration's Etsy store.
Yes, I'm now the proud owner of a meerkat aviator print. This alone was worth the Metro ride and the crowds.
There's also this handsome hedgehog who hangs in the entryway of my apartment. I may also have one featuring a T-Rex wearing a western shirt and a cowboy hat. I just can't help myself when it comes to these delightful animals. It's not just that the prints are whimsical (and you know how I love whimsy), it's that he writes a little story for each one. It's awesome and hilarious.
Crafty Bastards was held at Union Market, recently renovated and shiny and new. It's reminiscent of the Ferry Building in San Francisco although much smaller and in a random location. The history of the market goes back to the 1870s. Like lots of things in DC, it's undergone several different versions and lives in a neighborhood that seems at odds with a trendy, artisan market. As you walk to Union Market from the Metro, there are lots of different ethnic stores and markets too. I walked over to the fair with a woman I started talking to on the Metro and she suggested walking through the surrounding market so I could see the whole area. It was a good suggestion - it was interesting to see the contrast between the older parts of the neighborhood and the shiny new part.
I'd like to come back and visit the market again when it's not a zoo. There were so many people! This is what happens when it's 65 and sunny on a Saturday in November in DC. The only reason I found my friend amongst the vendors (even though I knew the booth number) is because he's really tall and I could see him over the crowd. His friend uses up-cycled and salvaged leather to make purses, wallets, and belts. I bought a lovely purple wrislet from her. You can find Catherinette on Etsy too. She had this awesome red purse that I loved but it was a little out of my budget for today. Maybe next time.
Now I just have to figure out where the meerkat and T-Rex will end up in the apartment. Or maybe one of them should make their way to the office. Nothing says office cube decor more than a T-Rex in a western shirt.