Monday, December 3, 2012

Seasons of Crafts - my first craft fair visit!

Outside entrance to craft fair
Recently, I attended the Seasons of Crafts event, a relatively large craft fair held at the Lancaster Event Center.  My classmates, Tom and Devon, joined me in order to get some good first-hand observations in the crafting community.  It was the first craft fair I had ever attended, and surprisingly enough, I actually rather enjoyed myself!  Now I don't want to sound rude - but I never expected to find much of interest to me in a place like that.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was something for everyone!  Some of my preconceived notions were true to life, but other expectations I had were challenged, and thrown out the window altogether.  The event was free (well, at least there was no entrance fee), however I did end up buying a few very cool solid wood wine bottle stoppers.
Natural Interior Design rustic candle-holders/centerpieces
My new wine bottle stoppers!
The stand selling these beautiful little gems was run by a younger gal, perhaps mid 20s (one of the youngest people I saw working a stand that day).  There was a wide variety of different items for sale on her table - probably the most eclectic table in the entire facility, certainly not limited to the wooden stoppers; there were also scented homemade soaps, and a neat arrangement of home decorations and candle-holders made from natural wood slices, pine-cones, and other rustic items.  The business card I picked up said "Natural Interior Design" - by Laurie Anderson - and included a web address to  The girl mentioned that each of the assorted items was crafted by a different member of her family, which explained the huge variety.

The rest of the fair held a wide variety of items, from baby blankets, to Christmas themed decorations, to jewelry, ceramics, stained glass, and even a stand dedicated to metal-working goods.  I was impressed with the variety and aside from a couple items here and there, I was also very impressed with the quality of craftsmanship and level of originality in many of the goods I looked at.  For this reason, I felt very awkward taking photos of everything...crafting can be a great expression of individuality for many people, and I didn't want any of the vendors to fear that I was trying to photograph their goods in order to steal their ideas - a definite concern for many crafters who are looking to maintain the unique quality of their work, amidst many others who only seek an easy way to make a quick profit.
Entrance to vendor area
Some vendors altered the type of items they were selling based on the particular holiday season
More holiday goodies...the bean bag snowmen were pretty neat!

Many of the vendors were selling similar items, such as fleece blankets and table runners
Bonfire Glass was one of the pricier stands, with many items priced at hundreds of dollars...most definitely more of a business endeavor for them, rather than a simple hobby

These wine/liquor bottle lamps were so cool! My husband is a bartender...might have to make a few of these for our bar at home!
I've never seen this done before; The artisan made quilted wall hangings that made it appear as if you were looking out a window at a beautiful landscape (often using Thomas Kinkade paintings, printed on fabric, as the background scenery). Another neat idea!

A few stands had homemade soaps for sale.  This particular one used a variety of natural essential oils and extracts in their soaps, each with different scents and health benefits.  The tea-tree oil ones were my favorite!
I almost bought this ceramic snail.  Thought it was so cute!

Some interesting layered paper wall-hangings in frames and shadow-boxes
Where else can you buy cupcakes and natural stone jewelry in the same place?

More curious visitors - we got there bright and early, so I'm sure they got more of a crowd towards the afternoon

As you can see from many of the photos, my original image of craft-fairs being predominantly run by older women, and visited by older women, held true.  There were very few younger people there, and not very many men either, aside from a few wood-workers who were certainly well into retirement.

One of the few stands with a male vendor
However, I was expecting more sales-pitches and the like, but was very happy to find that most of the people there were very laid-back and were just as happy small-talking as they were making sales.  There were a couple sales-oriented individuals, but they were also the ones that seemed like they were running more of a professional business, with fancier signs and displays; some even had their own credit card machines!

Overall we had a nice, relaxing time, got some great inspiration, and a couple of us even returned home with some neat items! I might just have to visit a few more craft fairs in the future.  Most do not seem to charge an entrance fee, so what have you got to lose? Go check one out! You never know what kinds of interesting things you might find!

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