Renegade Craft Fair in Hipster Brooklyn

comments (0) June 21st, 2007     

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MichaelaMurphy Michaela Murphy, contributor
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June 16th was hot and sunny in NYC. Amber and I headed over to the McCarren Park pool in Brooklyn to dive into the totally hip DIY conference known as the Renegade Craft Fair. This four year old gathering is the absolute ultimate in cool, hip and uber-creative and celebrates a new generation of craft-artists staking their claim with a unique, contemporary spin.

An old empty pool gets a new, hip life
Renegade took place at McCarren Park Pool. We literally stepped into the pool and found ourselves in a sea of booths filled with all kinds of handmade goodies for us to ohh and ahh over: T-shirts galore, exquisite and wild jewelry, delicately textured ceramics, and super-great print-works by artists from all over the world hip to the DIY scene. This year was the biggest turn out so far for Renegade with over 300 participating artists and after several hours there all I can say is I’ll never look at a simple kitchen sponge the same way again (more on that little wonder later).

The overall vibe was laid back and relaxed
We made our way up and down the aisles totally giddy to be amongst so many fellow travelers. We tried on the metal-smithing jewelry inspired by forests at the Figs & Ginger booth, and got a big kick out of the wise and witty tees at Campfire Goods, I picked out a ‘Diphthong’ explanation tee for ten-year-old Elliott back in Seattle.

Amber and I both cried out when we saw the darling Nancy Drew purses at Rebound Designs, and cried out again when we saw the price ($100) But they were so great! They also had little evening bags in Gulliver’s Travel’s, Goethe’s Faust, and The House of Spirits.

At the Etsy booth I saw the most amazing thing: a laptop bag made out of kitchen sponges--and it was fabulous. The inside of the bag was lined with the soft part of the sponge while the outside had the green scrubby part. It was even adorned with two sponge flowers and had an envelope closure with two scrubby buttons. It really has got to be seen to be appreciated: pure genius.

By the way, Etsy is craft community central, located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn this two year old enterprise is a showplace for handmade goods and has over 300,000 members and about 40,00 sellers. Members are also able to use the Brooklyn workspace, Etsy Labs, as a studio or trunk show venue. Their website holds online workshops with hybrid skill shares: they stream how-to’s happening at the lab with a multi-user application with flash video capabilities.

Sewing is the new black
By far the biggest excitement for us (yes, more than the sponge bag) was the huge representation of stitchers in attendance. It seemed like every other booth was teeming with new, bold, original designs or fresh, contemporary, retakes of vintage classics. I have to confess to multiple moments of pride as almost every designer we talked to told us how much they loved Sew Stylish and from the looks of things at Renegade everyone wants to learn how to sew!

Classes, baby, classes
Classes at workshops all over the country are filled to capacity and new ones are being added all of the time. We stopped by and talked to the lovely and talented Diana Rupp, founder of the famous craft studio Make Workshop and she has talked me into coming back east for her shoemaking class next fall. Once she told me that a former student knocked off a pair of handmade Blaniks I asked how soon I could start. Be sure to check out Rupp’s new step-by-step beginner’s guide: S*E*W, (Sew Everything Workshop) with 25 original designs.

Beginners in the city of brotherly love don’t have to look very far: check out Betsy Ross Patterns, Creator Aimee Dolby offers easy to make patterns with chic design and lots of moral support (her online ‘constitution’ is a riot.)
Those north of NYC should log onto for info on upcoming classes in knitting and sewing in the New Paltz area.

And a few more must-mentions
We are not a bit surprised to hear about filled up sewing classes as anyone walking around Renegade with even a smidgen of creativity would have been moved to run out and make something. One look at the color combinations and textures of a Pear Handsewn Originals laptop, messenger, or diaper bag gives some serious jolts to ambitions of self-expression. And the wool, silk, and knit prints inspired by old Japanese textile designs over at Bobbi? Or the thrift-store textiles transformed into the coolest kid’s clothes on the planet over at Twice Sewn? Please. My pulse was literally racing I was getting so many ideas.

Augh! This is horrible, there were over two hundred different vendors and they were amazing, I could write a book about them all. But this is a blog! How can I not mention the to- die- for dresses at Twospace? Or the awe-inspiring collection of lovelies, especially those by owner Siri over at Treehouse? Well, I just did, but the good news is that I am going to stop because you can go and see for yourself.

We are poised at the dawning of the new age of crafting and the Renegade Fair is only four short years into the beginning. Right this very minute there are fairs going on, about to go on, or soon to be going on. There is Portland’s Monthly Art & Craft Extravaganza on July 8th, the next Renegade Crafts Fair to be held in Chicago. IL on September 15&16th, and Crafty Bastards! Arts & Crafts Fair in the D.C metro area on September 30. These are just a few; check your local arts and events listings to find out when and where you can get in on the DIY revolution. See you there!

posted in: event, Renegade, Brooklyn, fair

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