Crafty Bastards, now in its 11th year, is a celebration and showcase of handmade arts and crafts from across the country. It has a hip, festival vibe with live music, food trucks and a distinctly younger demographic of sellers and buyers than your typical craft fair. Artisans will set up booths Sept. 27-28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at Northeast Washington’s Union Market ($5 per day, $8 for a weekend pass). If you’re looking for gifts, or a treat for yourself, here are five artisans to look for.
●Booth: No. 94
●What you’ll find: A mini covered cheese dish with a fox handle ($80). “It’s super fun, and I love to sculpt the little foxes. You can use it as a jewelry dish, or it’s great for a little goat cheese.”
●When you’re not making pottery, what are you doing? “I’ve got a garden at my house, so I’m in my vegetable garden. Or hiking with my beagles.”
Tasha McKelvey became hooked on working with clay during her freshman year at Mary Washington College. By her senior year, she had started a full-fledged business. Along with pots, vases, bowls and dishes, McKelvey creates clay jewelry and Christmas ornaments.
Fourteen years into her career, McKelvey is back for another Crafty Bastards festival, which she credits as being part of a larger movement to shake up the traditional craft show scene.
“I used to do large arts and craft shows, with middle-aged to retired folks,” McKelvey says. “A lot of times I was making things that wouldn’t sell. I wasn’t selling to my peers. But Crafty Bastards, in 2006 when I first went, became the best show I had ever done. I had been skeptical about indie craft shows. Suddenly that became my focus.”
● Booth: No. 159
● What you’ll find: White pillows screen-printed with hand-drawn black polka dots ($48). “Black and white is very trendy. It’s an amazing accent pillow. It can go on any sofa.”
● When you’re not screen-printing, what are you doing? “I’m enjoying Chicago. I love to be outside. I like to be by the lake.”
Virginia native Krissy Callahan has applied to be a vendor at Crafty Bastards before, but this year will be the screen-printer’s first showing. She’s excited to bring her hand-printed pillows, aprons, shirts and more from her adopted city of Chicago.
“I’m so thrilled,” Callahan says. “This allows all these people who haven’t seen me in Chicago to come out and support me. My mom and my sister will be there to help me set up my booth.”
Callahan, who studied at James Madison University’s School of Media Arts and Design, built a screen-printing studio in the basement of her home in 2008. She quit her corporate job with Hyatt three years ago to pursue her passion full time.
“I love to design and to draw and sketch, but I don’t consider myself an excellent artist,” Callahan says. “This is a great way for me to express myself, and a way to create patterns and colors.”
● Booth: No. 162
● What you’ll find: Coasters made with blocks of steel and wrapped in hemp rope ($10 each or a set of four for $25). “I call them my manly coasters. You can defend your house with them.”
● When you’re not making furniture, what are you doing? “I will admit my geek status. I play a lot of video games. I enjoy riding my mountain bike and trying not to crash into a tree.”
Chad Omweg’s career has taken a number of different turns: from a college dropout to a member of the U.S. skeleton team to a motorcycle engineer and racer. “I fancy myself a Renaissance man,” he says.
It was necessity that brought Omweg, to his current occupation as a furniture maker. When he and his wife moved from Utah to Baltimore three years ago, he couldn’t find any furniture he liked and decided to make his own — particularly furniture for a “man cave, to watch a movie or play video games.”
Thus, Guys’ Furniture Guy was born.
“I like my furniture to be a little rougher,” Omweg says. “I like an industrial, Victorian feel. I want things to feel like they have history. I want it to feel and look a little different.”
Omweg, a certified welder, learned through classes and years working on sleds and motorcycles. Now you’ll find him in Baltimore making wood-and-steel furniture, along with home goods such as coasters and cutting boards. Omweg says he uses a mix of power and hand tools and tries to used reclaimed wood whenever he can.
He stumbled upon Crafty Bastards this year, he said, thanks to his wife. He was initially wait-listed but got a call two weeks after to let him know a slot had opened up.
“I created a table just for this,” Omweg says. “It’s 42 inches tall. It’s made with wood flooring from a Baltimore rowhome. That will be my table at the fair. It turned out beautifully.”
● Mount Airy, Md.
● Booth: No. 8
● What you’ll find: Necklaces made with hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn and silk fiber ($24 for set of three). “They make a statement.”
● When you’re not dying wool, what are you doing? “I have two kids, so most of what I’m doing is shuttling kids to and fro.”
Dyeing yarn is addictive, Anne Choi says.
“Once you start dyeing, it’s a rabbit hole,” she says. “Suddenly you look at everything as inspiration for color. You cannot stop.”
A longtime knitter, Choi visits farms with her friends to buy natural fibers and wools, allowing her to see exactly which animal the wool comes from. The natural colors are beautiful, Choi says, but dyeing them has given her a whole new creative outlet.
“Most of the time when I dye, I’ll look at teas,” Choi says of her one-woman operation’s name. “I look at herbal teas. Most of my colors are brights against the darks, like hibiscus colors against smoke tea colors.”
In addition to her ready-for-knitting wool, she sells scarves, hats and more. She also has a small line of lotion made with beeswax, mango butter and various oils. For her first Crafty Bastards festival, Choi hopes the wide variety of items she has (as well as some of the electric colors) will draw customers.
“I think that a lot of times, yarn and things made with yarn can be easy to overlook,” Choi says. “A lot of my art yarn and the scarves, aren’t what you think of [when you think of] traditional yarn. It’s not super smooth. It will have puffs of silk or little chunks of wool.”