For the last couple years, I’ll hear something about the Bazaar Bizarre a couple months before it comes to Cleveland, and I’ll be all excited about it, then promptly forget all about it. This actually works out pretty well because Matt does NOT forget about it, and he gets to surprise me by taking me to there. That’s what we did this Saturday.
The Bazaar Bizarre is a collection of artists and crafters of the modern rather than granny persuasion. You’ll get a lot of knitters, but among the thick striped scarves, a six armed sweater wouldn’t be out of place. These are the awesome sort of crafts you see in Craft Magazine, very creative and surprising.
Last year was a little disappointing, not because of the crafters present, but because we didn’t get there until the last few hours of the show/sale. There were only about ten booths left, and those were mostly out of merchandise, a few were partially packed up. This year, Matt got us there on the second day, early on, while the Bazaar was full in swing.
These are fun people, happy to chat about their artwork. Some of them were making more to sell as they sat there, I even got to see one woman spinning yarn with a drop spindle. By the way, her hair is not actually purple as it appears in the photo, I just got a little bit carried away with Photoshop. She makes handspun yarns (obviously) as well as hats and other knitty things. I think her booth was Cosy Knits Literally, but I’m not positive. I took everyone’s card whose photo I took, but I got them all mixed up.
I’ll probably spend a couple days talking about some of the cool things I saw, and with any luck the photos will do a better job of describing the kind of craft than I am. Today I just want to take a look at some of the more innovative presentations I came across. I included the lady from Cosy Knits because I think one of the best things a visual aritst, whether they be a knitter or a comic book inker, can do to attract buyers is include them in the process (and also because she had some pretty rocking stuff).
Some of the other things I saw in terms of presentation were more conscious. I think my number 1 favorite booth style was the one that used books as jewelry stands. Even if I hadn’t liked the neat vintage style items I would have had to stop and look.
This is especially important for this one where the wares are so small: it’s easy for them to get lost in the sea of brightly colored crafts. Among the books, an old camera and other old items that look like they came either from a flea market or a neo-victorian novel add to this little moment of atmosphere. The dainty little necklaces and such fit perfectly, and the smart layout made me stop and examine them more closely. Personal favorite: the green frame pendant seen above on the left. I think the book booth belonged to Oceanne Jewelry Design & Creative Parties, but, again, I can’t be sure I haven’t mixed up the cards.
Another booth going for a sort of vintage feel was (I’m almost positive about this one) Chleo Dee’s. Her booth didn’t have quite so cohesive a look as the book booth, but it works somehow. It’s half vintage, with merchandise hanging in old trunks laid on their sides. In the center of the table she made little “houses” for her artwork (mostly, as far as I saw, stuffed squid) that looked a bit like the mangers that might come with a nicer nativity set. It’s a combo that has no logical reason to work visually, but somehow it does. This was one of the first booths I noticed when I came into the room, and believe me, that’s a hard feat to accomplish among the chaos.
Some of the other nice booth setups had a more tranquil feel. The second booth I noticed was The Oak Leaves, which was set a ways away from most of the other booths for some reason. This was probably a mixed blessing since on one hand it really stood out against the blank space behind it, but on the other hand, most of the crowd gravitated toward the denser craft space.
I loved the natural zen feel of this booth, which was mostly created by the products themselves, but the use of natural wooden shelving was effective without disrupting the calm. My photo doesn’t do it justice, you should visit her site to see some of the pieces up close. The dolls were the creepy cute kind I love, but the bottled ecosystems were the real curiosity. I don’t see any dolls on her website so I’m not sure she makes them (she could have been lending space to a crafty friend) but the combination is very effective: the handmade organic next to the seemingly free generating organic.
In a more formal style, Valerie Tyler Designs managed a rather elegant booth among the more handmade looking crafts. Again, my photo doesn’t really do it justice (hey, YOU try getting quality photos with the crappy phone camera on the chocolate, and with icky fluorescent lighting no less, plus I have to freaking email myself every photo separately because syncing is a pain in the- oh I so can’t wait to get an iphone). The jewelry is beautiful stuff, which I’ll talk about more later this week. The use of smooth rocks and black cloth gives it an extremely sophisticated feel, I think more so than any other booth I saw.
Clearly, I was far more impressed this year than last year, and I’d like to take the time to point out my favorite artists of the year, so I’ll probably be talking about this for a few days at least. Most of the artists were great, but some were fun, or weird, or just amazing enough to shine.