This past fall, I had the privilege of attending my first Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. This outdoor street craft fair was a spectacle to behold. Chicago is a wonder of a city, particularly in the summer, when it comes alive. That September Sunday was a glorious day—clarion blue sky, not too hot, with just a hint of fall in the air. I set out with my family—my husband, my daughter 3 ½ years old and my son 2 ½ and maybe you guessed it already—not exactly the best companions to see a craft fair that runs several city blocks.
Immediately, it was evident how super savvy the Renegade Craft Fair organizers are in setting up an enormous show. They placed the exhibiting tents back to back in the center of the street….well how clever! Attendees weren’t all bunched up running into each other and we were forced (in a good way) to see every exhibit without a competing booth across the way. Sure enough, only a few booths in, my kids were whining for different reasons. Whines gave way to shrill complaints. BUT we made the best of it as we Petersons do—thus racing through the booths of the fair. I did not enjoy my time there as I could have—but I think of all the money I saved, having young children nipping at my heels.
Of course, each booth was great. Some were better than others. I hesitated to take close up photographs, because artists get a little twitchy if you are taking pictures of their wares (I did when I exhibited) especially if they haven’t heard of your website. So, I tried to capture just a few atmosphere shots with the exception of the few booths of companies who have been around for a while and could care less if you are taking pictures.
Some stand outs I particularly LOVED (don’t forget I was nearly running here and I am sure I missed some gems):
Fomato Cards—totally original, really clever greeting cards designed by genius Emmie Hsu—http://www.fomato.com
Shawninals—home grown Chicago artist / hand maker of hilarious plush http://www.shawnimals.com/
Prix-Prix—well made recycled tie products. I love their wallets and adore their tie necklaces http://www.prix-prix.com/
The Prick Cushion was just that—full of pricks, felt ones, that is. I loved seeing small and large penises and other naughty bits made of felt. My husband of course whisked the kids by as soon as he realized what I was holding was a penis pin cushion. http://theprickcushion.quepid.org/store/
Embossing your own copy of their business card was one of the many cool things to see at The Small Object’s booth. http://www.thesmallobject.com/
Super inventive was mr.tastees.com who drove his booth in and set up out of a mr. tastees.com custom vintage van. http://www.mrtastees.com/
I would totally wear one of Caseybot’s hats, but instead I long to dress my kids in them. http://www.caseybot.com.
One of my favorite exhibits was NICE by Catlin Holcomb. NICE’s booth was sugar and spice and full of celebratory banners. I am so tired of throwing out birthday and other holiday decorations, these decorations you can keep and reuse. I happen to be completely drawn to plywood art anyway, so she had me at hello. http://www.nice-etc.com
It is always great to see some companies and organizations wholeheartedly supporting the indie made movement. Etsy, Craftster.org and Ready Made mag were happy to be there among their peeps. At the end of my visit to Renegade Craft Fair, I felt sorry for those who have to travel great distances to see the show. It is totally worth the airfare, though.
This show drips with indie spirited ingenuity. I was in heaven, even if only for an hour. I look forward to the next one! For more info: http://www.renegadecraft.com/