When it comes to gift giving, some people just nail it with a perfectly crafted, blended, baked, or otherwise personally handmade item. Whether it’s furniture made from discarded pallets, knitted sweaters and scarves, or some tasty confectionery masterpiece, complete with cake box and doily, some people make it look easy.
If you lack that creative gene and simply cannot understand the infatuation others have with Pinterest, you are not alone. And with the Internet making all things crafted accessible at the drop of an enter key mixed in with some top-of-the-line craft shows coming up, you can find a large variety of homemade items that are perfect for the people on your holiday list. All you have to do is imagine it and, chances are, some creative person has done the legwork of bringing “your” creation to life. So all is not lost, creativity-challenged people, there is a talented pool of crafters out there bringing ingenious ideas to fruition.
Sometimes the best crafts are those made with the simplest of items. With a culture of renewed interest in lessening our impact on the environment, the same holds true for mindful crafters. Whereas conventional art mediums including canvas and paint, and wood that can be etched, carved, and whittled into most anything still exist and are very popular, trends have taken a more natural approach in the crafting world. Creating exquisite and detailed art out of natural items like sharks’ teeth or sea glass so that the final piece is so expressive and full of life, that it could easily adorn the walls of the trendiest artist gallery is commonplace among natural crafters. And there’s something special about wearing one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry that evoke the compliments of strangers and are often great conversation starters.
When you’re making your shopping list this year, be sure to consider local artists in your mix of mall and online shopping. Buying local crafts and wares made by talented individuals is a great way to spur small business growth. It also encourages the acquisition of handmade arts using renewable materials rather than mass-made products that will crowd the landfills. Plus, giving locally handmade gifts introduces the receiver to new options for their future gift buying. It’s special to receive something that was chosen with care by you and is also the product of another person’s hard work, time and love.
Making it extra easy to find beautiful arts and crafts are crafting websites like Etsy, eBay, Artpal, Bonanza and a host of other sites that you can peruse at your leisure for uniquely crafted gifts. But there’s a bonus involved when you are in person at a great craft show with plenty of like-minded crafty (and crafty wannabe) type people. A certain synergy and appreciation between crafters and shoppers occurs, unlike the abrupt interactions you might find at busy shopping centers.
One of the area’s best shows featuring hip and accomplished crafters is the Atomic Holiday Bazaar, which is coming to the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium on Dec 12 and 13. Celebrating a decade of self-described Indie arts and crafts, this is the craft show of the season and one you’ll not want to miss. The Atomic Holiday Bazaar has packed the Sarasota Auditorium for years, drawing vendors and attendees from all over the region. The show will be set up with three sets of crafters, and you can immediately discern, from their quirky titles and informational but fun website, that this is going to be a show with a sense of humor. The three “sets” include the Main Auditorium All-Star Misfits, with over 125 vendors, many who will be at the show both days. The Bay Front Room Misfits will feature over 40 interchanging artists on Saturday and Sunday. And with growing attendance, this year’s show is spilling outdoors with the Street Fair Misfits, which will include vintage retail and eclectic artists selling edgy jewelry, clothing and wares. Refreshments will also be available for purchase.
Whether you’re in need of a unique gift for your boss or a secret Santa, or even a best friend who has everything, a hand-crafted gift is a lovely and well-appreciated gift. This weekend’s craft fair will offer creative household decorations, unique apparel, colorful and eclectic jewelry, beautiful pottery, henna and everything in between. But that’s not all, because, as we all know, a good craft fair also provides inspiration for projects you may or may not undertake in the New Year. Either way, it’s just fun to take in all of that crafty eye-candy. It also provides income for local people with a talent they are sharing with the world and, who are seeing their hobbies turn into a business. It’s nice when you can look a true crafter in the eye and show appreciation for their hard work with the expenditure of your money and an interest in their products. It’s also a great feeling knowing you have chosen the perfect gift for someone you love. Happy hunting for your one-of-a-kind gifts at this weekend’s Atomic Holiday Bazaar. For more information, please visit www.atomicholidaybazaar.com.
Photos: Henna photo courtesy of Henna Artistry by Heather Cook, commercial use allowed. (You can see Heather’s henna creations at the Atomic Holiday Bazaar.) Sea glass jewelry by Salty Gems on Etsy, courtesy of Lisa Crabtree, commercial use allowed.