Crafting gets attitude
Why did the rock n roll rooster cross the road? To get to this weekends Bazaar Bizarre and Punk Rock Flea Market, hotbeds of Bostons hipster crafts scene.
The line stretched around the block with people waiting to get into the Central Square YWCA. Inside, the scene at last Decembers Bazaar Bizarre was equally chaotic; the space was clogged with hipsters inspecting lamps made out of old bowling pins, hand-knit beer cozies, and cucumber-melon scented soap molded into the shape of Mr. T.
It was kind of insane, recalls artist Dave Ortega, who was selling T-shirts and comic books. It was so crowded that people were having a hard time shopping.
Organizers of the annual craft fair Bazaar Bizarre have taken steps to avoid last years traffic jam by securing the cavernous Cyclorama for this weekends event. Organizers hope the larger space will help alleviate congestion, but theyre still anticipating a rabid turnout as a result of Bostons exploding punk craft movement. For proof, look no further than the incredible five-year growth spurt of the bazaar.
Its just grown to this insane level, says organizer Simone Alpen. I think its word of mouth. Someone shows up and loves it, and they tell 10 or 20 friends. This year we have over 80 vendors. We started at the Cambridge VFW, and now were moving to this huge space.
The concept behind Sundays Bazaar Bizarre and Saturdays Punk Rock Flea Market at the Massachusetts College of Art revolves around fierce independent spirit and hip expression as conveyed through the not-so-fierce crafting mediums of embroidery, hot glue guns, crochet needles, and felt.
One of the slogans that I use is, No tea cozies without irony,. says local crafting queen Leah Kramer, author of the forthcoming The Crafters Guide to Nifty, Thrifty, and Kitschy Crafts, and webmaster of the enormously popular site craftster.org. But I dont know if theres one phrase you can use to describe it all accurately. Its crafting as a way of expressing your own personality.
As a growing number of budding crafters express themselves, there is no shortage of shoppers ready to swoop in and purchase quilts emblazed with skulls and crossbones. With those consumers in mind, Bazaar Bizarre was launched five years ago as a way of giving the tough-and-tender crafters an outlet for selling their goods. Previously, most of these sewing-room artists had been handing out their creations to friends as gifts.
The idea was to sell stuff that people had made and just create an offbeat holiday event with DJs, says Alpen. We didnt want it to feel like a church craft fair, and we also didnt want it to feel like a full-on rock show. We wanted something in between. At that time, the DIY crafting movement wasnt much of a force, and we werent even sure if wed find enough vendors.
After Bazaar Bizarre made its debut in 2001, local promoter Ben Sisto started the Punk Rock Flea Market in the fall of 2002. Many of the same cooler-than-youll-ever-hope-to-be vendors display their goods at both events, but the Punk Rock Flea Market also includes tables of local record distributors, vintage vinyl, and other yard sale finds as filtered through a punk sensibility. Both events feature DJs and offbeat touches, such as Sistos mom selling home-baked vegan goodies.
Like Bazaar Bizarre, the Punk Rock Flea Market swelled from a tiny beginning of 15 vendor tables to more than 75 though this years event has been scaled back to around 40 vendors with ravenous shoppers in fauxhawks and hoodies snatching up handicrafts and cookies.
The first craft fair that I ever did was the Punk Rock Flea Market, says Alison Gordon, who sells her embroidered purses, patches, cards, and Christmas ornaments under the name Wonderland Q. I sold 50 bags, and I was shocked. Its gotten much bigger than I ever could have hoped.
The founder of Bazaar Bizarre, Greg Der Ananian, recently published a book of do-it-yourself projects for items such as cuffs fashioned from old records, and soaps in the shape of the A-in-a-circle symbol for anarchy. Meanwhile, websites such as Kramers are flourishing. Kramer is now devoting herself fulltime to her site, which receives 300,000 visitors a month.
When I first started making crafts, I was dismayed that so much that was out there was cross-stitched Home Sweet Home plaques, says Kramer. And when I found Bazaar Bizarre, I was so happy to find other craft freaks out there. I thought I was the only one.
Sunday 1-8 p.m.
Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St., Boston
The granddaddy of DIY punk craft fairs, this years edition includes celebrity DJs such as Hilken Mancini, plus theremin holiday carols and a make-your-own holiday card table for budding crafters.
Punk Rock Flea Market
Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Massachusetts College of Art, Pozen Center
621 Huntington Ave., Boston
Vendors include Baddins Design, a one-woman Seattle company that tricks out vintage clothing with new touches, and Miss Anthropes yard sale of LPs, crafts, books, and vintage Polaroid cameras. The Derby Dames guest DJ.
Other crafty shopping opportunities
Fort Point Holiday Sale
Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
249 A St., Boston
Creative types in Fort Point Channel gather in the Artists Building to sell paintings, photography, jewelry, sculpture, and holiday cards.
South End Holiday Market
Friday 6-10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
500 and 540 Harrison Ave., Boston
$5, children under 12 free
More than 130 artists sell wares such as hand-blown glass bowls, vintage maps, jewelry, and handbags.
Friday-Sunday through Dec. 23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
160 Westminster St., Providence
Craftland, Providences version of Bazaar Bizarre, features DIY and hipster crafters selling their goods weekends through Christmas.