Boston's Best Indie Craft Fairs: Welcome to Craftghanistan

A never-ending quagmire of felted owls, twee pirates, and racy onesies
By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  December 8, 2010


Indie craft fairs started cropping up in major cities roughly a decade ago, shortly after the Battle in Seattle and long before The New York Times began regularly using the word "hipster." Tired out from kicking in Starbucks windows, anti-corporate urban bohemians hunkered down with crochet hooks and some Oolong.

Now, gymnasiums across the land are routinely transmogrified into fantasias of polyclay cupcakes, screen-printed indie-rock show posters, and skull-riddled charm bracelets. Girls with serious hair and big glasses push past men with babies strapped to their chests; all leave with tote bags fit to burst.

Meanwhile, the sheer number of woodland creatures represented at your typical craft fair outnumber those in the deepest forest. The owl, once ubiquitous, recalled childhoods spent in the mustard-colored rec rooms of 1970s suburbia. Lately, it has been surpassed by quadrupeds and fantastical beasts; the fox and the deer fight for ascendancy while the unicorn trails closely behind. Pirates, sparrows, leaves, skulls, acorns, and bears have all flitted across silkscreened T-shirts and hand-blown belt buckles.

Though we are wild, we are innocent and gentle, say the silhouetted creatures of the mugs and of the stationery. Carry us and do no harm. Though making or purchasing felted owls has never been a particularly effective way to combat globalization, craft fairs are nice.

The multicity indie-crafts juggernaut Bazaar Bizarre got its start right here in Boston in 2001, and now has chapters in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. Though the Boston version took place last weekend, those who missed it have three opportunities to surround themselves with subversive T-shirts, handmade neckerchiefs, and stovetop-rendered oatmeal soap molded into guns. We got the lowdown from the organizers and asked them to pick their favorite vendors.

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