Friday December 3 & 4 marked the 5th annual Bazaar Bizarre Holiday Craft Show. Crafters from all over the Bay Area and beyond set up shop at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center to display their rocking wares for the weekend. Bazaar Bizarre was more than just your ordinary craft fair! This year's Holiday Show featured over 200 vendors, demos from local favorites like TechShop, Boarding All Rows, GoGo Craft and SCRAP and food and drink a plenty. Bazaar Bizarre was definitely the place to be to get an early jump on some spectacular holiday shopping. When not vending and catching up on my own holiday shopping, I chatted with a few of my favorite local craft superstars.
Indie Artist - Master of Geek Crochet and Amigurumi
First up on our crafty adventure is Steph Cortes, self-proclaimed Master of Geekery and the genius crafter behind nerd JERK, a San Francisco micro-business that specializes in handmade geek art based on old school video games and retro imagery. Steph has always been crafty and learned how to crochet and embroider from her grandmother when she was little. She started nerdJerk in 2009 after boning up on her needlework skills. She says, "I've been designing amigurumi, a Japanese style of crochet plush, since 2005, but only started taking my art seriously in 2009 when I started nerd JERK. Since then, I've vended at tons of craft fairs, joined our local Etsy Street Team (becoming a team leader came later) and have done as much as I can to make crafting & art a part of everything I do!"
Steph loves working craft fairs and this year's Bazaar Bizarre is no exception! Steph got her start selling her nifty wares at a local San Francisco street fair and has enjoyed connecting with her fans ever since. She says, "I used to say that I made plush toys and rad accessories to get boys. But since I've been doing it for so long, I've discovered that I really enjoy reconnecting the public with something they’ve always loved, but in a different way...when kids can still remember what PacMan Ghosts are named and what mix tapes look like, I'm just beaming with pride." Steph finds inspiration in going for walks and taking in all that surrounds her. She says, "Most of the time, I’ll just look at my local thrift store and think of all the rad things that kind of lay forgotten and think, “How can I remind people about the awesomeness in a plushie/embroidered/happy kind of way?” Happy indeed! One of the most noticeable things about a visit to Steph's booth is watching people light up with excitement when they see a geeky memory brought to life in colorful plush. When not creating for nerd JERK, Steph cares for her Grandmother and acts as resident Etsy wizard, answering questions and helping other Bay Area crafters with all things Etsy.
Eco Friendly Silver and Gold Jewelry
Meet Marja Germans Gard, Mother, Psychologist, Jeweler and all around superstar behind Lemonade Handmade Jewelry. Marja crafts eco-friendly silver and gold necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets with clean lines and a modern feel, often mixing metals and textures. Marja started Lemonade Handmade about 2 and a half years ago. She says, "I’ve always loved making jewelry- and by always, I mean ALWAYS. When I was a little kid I stole my dad’s needle nose pliers and would make earrings from seed beads and the straight pins from my mother’s sewing kit. I took enameling in middle school and made crazy geometric enameled earrings for all of my friends. It’s always been a creative outlet for me, and although I took a significant detour (getting a PH.D. in Psychology along the way) I’m delighted it’s now my career. In my current work, I like to continually challenge myself to use new techniques and create new designs- it’s really exciting to see all the things that metal can do."
Marja's entry into full time jewelry making was an unexpected surprise. Marja reveals,"I’ve always loved crafting, but I started my business on a bit of a lark. I had taken a break from jewelry when my kids were really young, and one day I mentioned to a friend that I thought I would pick it up again. She suggested I have a jewelry party at my house, so I did. I invited everyone I knew, made a ton of pieces, and, to my amazement, pretty much sold out. That gave me the confidence to open up a shop on Etsy, and I haven’t looked back since." Marja crafts out of her home studio in Oakland California and finds inspiration in learning new techniques and always expanding her skill set. She says, "Truthfully, for the most part I design pieces that I would want to wear myself. I love to mix metals and play with the textures and tones that metal can take on, and I like to continually learn new techniques because I feel that that pushes me to look at my existing designs with fresh eyes and take them in new directions. It’s also important to me to be as eco-friendly as possible in my work. I use recycled metal whenever possible and also use environmentally sensitive metalsmithing techniques."
Handmade Food Plush Toys
Next up is the ever adorable Jakc Designs. Owner and designer Jennifer Chee is a master of plush presentation! The Jakc booth is always a show favorite and it is hard to beat her adorable packaging. Plush pickles in a mason jar! Plush burger and fries in a drive-in style basket! Too cute to believe.
Jennifer is a full time crafter and has been in the business for 5 years, working out of her home studio in Oakland CA. She says, "I make my food plushes because it really makes me happy to make another person smile or laugh. I noticed that when people see them they get really excited about plushy foods with faces on them! The same applies to my baby apparel!" Jennifer has always been creative and as a young child loved making things with her hands. She says,"My mother really encouraged me to be creative and to be genuinely happy with what I decided to do in my career. She has been my inspiration since she had always wanted to be a fashion designer. We would make hand sewn objects when I was little and I would love sifting through her fabric collection. We would also love to go to shops with baby clothes and squeal over how cute and small everything was. In a lot of ways I think she was the one who guided me down this path of making baby apparel and I love it!"
Many many thanks to Steph, Marja, and Jennifer for taking a break from their busy booths at the Bazaar Bizarre Holiday Show to chat about their work! For more information about the crafters featured here, click on the links within this post.
Signing off by the Golden Gate,