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Crafting gets attitude

Why did the rock ‘’n’ roll rooster cross the road? To get to this weekend’s Bazaar Bizarre and Punk Rock Flea Market, hotbeds of Boston’s hipster crafts scene.

The line stretched around the block with people waiting to get into the Central Square YWCA. Inside, the scene at last December’s 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 year’s traffic jam by securing the cavernous Cyclorama for this weekend’s event. Organizers hope the larger space will help alleviate congestion, but they’re still anticipating a rabid turnout as a result of Boston’s exploding punk craft movement. For proof, look no further than the incredible five-year growth spurt of the bazaar.

‘‘It’s just grown to this insane level,’’ says organizer Simone Alpen. ‘‘I think it’s 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 we’re moving to this huge space.’’

The concept behind Sunday’s Bazaar Bizarre — and Saturday’s 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 Crafter’s Guide to Nifty, Thrifty, and Kitschy Crafts,’’ and webmaster of the enormously popular site ‘‘But I don’t know if there’s one phrase you can use to describe it all accurately. It’s 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 didn’t want it to feel like a church craft fair, and we also didn’t want it to feel like a full-on rock show. We wanted something in between. At that time, the DIY crafting movement wasn’t much of a force, and we weren’t even sure if we’d 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-you’ll-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 Sisto’s 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 year’s 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. It’s 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 Kramer’s 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.’’

Bazaar Bizarre

Sunday 1-8 p.m.

Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts

539 Tremont St., Boston


The granddaddy of DIY punk craft fairs, this year’s 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 Anthrope’s 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.

Craftland 2005

Friday-Sunday through Dec. 23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

160 Westminster St., Providence


Craftland, Providence’s version of Bazaar Bizarre, features DIY and hipster crafters selling their goods weekends through Christmas.

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