Handmade hipness abounds at Vancouver's holiday craft markets
Credit the DIY movement or the simple urge to rebel against holiday-mall hell; whatever the reason, Vancouver’s Christmas craft-market season continues to explode. While it’s true that One of a Kind won’t be making an appearance in the next few weeks (it was part of IDSWest in September instead), almost all of the other havens for handmade finds are expanding, and the choices are even more diverse than usual. This year’s markets range from the funky-alternative to the large-scale and glossy; in our scan of the next two months’ events, we uncovered everything from anime-inspired baubles to upcycled-cashmere arm warmers. In other words, there are literally thousands of ways to avoid buying another mass-produced knickknack for the style hound on your list.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to some of the craft markets worth marking on your calendar.
The Circle Craft Christmas Market
(November 7 to 11 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West)
The sprawling exhibit and sale boasts more artisans than ever for its 39th year: over 300 lines from across the country (and even the Pacific Northwest), from soap-makers to ceramicists, all selected by a jury. Also adding to the festive atmosphere are artist demonstrations by the creatively stylish likes of Vanessa T. Cunningham and Silk Weaving Studio, as well as by jewellery designers Hollie Bear Bartlett and Vesna’s Fiber Art Studio. Check out the event’s new fashion show, which spotlights local pieces like Adhesif Clothing’s one-of-a-kind upcycled creations, fiveleft leather’s richly patinaed purses, and Chloë Angus’s sophisticated eco-chic outfits.
What we want: Bling Squared’s ultracute, anime-inspired earrings crafted out of candy-coloured glass; recycled-cashmere “floppy” tuques, arm warmers, and wraps by Washington State’s Vintage Creations; Divina Denuevo’s rustically hip wallets, book bags, and wristlets with their vintage hardware; Anat Basanta’s coolly artful jewellery, with its retro-wallpaper-like patterns set into cold sterling-silver corset rings, cuffs, and rippled necklaces.
(November 8 to 11 at the Croatian Cultural Centre)
The hip, clubby-feeling craft fair is calling itself “25 percent more awesome” this year. The reason? It’s expanding into another room at the centre to up its content. What sets this market apart is that there are local musicians like Alas, the Ocean and Elisa Thorn playing tunes as well as booze to, well, lubricate your shopping experience. Products range from cool graphic Ts by Ole Originals to Element Botanicals natural lip tints and lotions (check out the seasonally perfect Ginger Snap–scented stuff).
What we want: Kroc N Dial leather watches, with their funky patchwork and topstitching; LanaBetty’s girlie, vintage-inspired, resin-moulded flower earrings; Pip & Pin chunky knit cowls, emblazoned with buttons and bows.
Portobello West Holiday Market
(November 24 at the Creekside Community Centre)
The semi-regular market steps it up for gift season with dozens of fashion and art vendors, with a strong component of unique jewellery.
What we want: Ugly Bunny’s laser-cut wood pendants in folk-arty shapes of snowy owls and elk; Viva Diosa’s boho-perfect perforated-leather and -suede ponchos, clutches, and handbags.
(December 8 and 9 at the Croatian Cultural Centre)
Surprise, surprise: this intimate affair that used to be held at the Grandview Legion has grown too. More than 80 artisans are now on the roster of a show that prides itself on its careful curation. Everything here has an indie feel, whether it’s the Tiny Fig’s adorable illustrated budgie and hedgehog pendants or Feest’s beautiful soy-based candles and aromatherapy products, often served up in vintage-style canning jars.
What we want: Conecktion’s pointy, tailored hand-sewn collars (with no shirt attached); Tiny Mr.’s vibrant-patterned bow ties for dapper wee dudes aged newborn to 10.
Shiny Fuzzy Muddy 12
(December 8 and 9 at Heritage Hall)
Organized by a collective of long-time indie labels—Laura Mckibbon, Kari Woo, Arleigh Wood, Frances Felt, and Astrosatchel—this artful little gem of a show is a bit smaller and less overwhelming with its roster of everything from cool ceramics to graphic vinyl purses.
What we want: Track and Field Design’s screen-printed iPad and iPhone cases, with retro images like owls and typewriters emblazoning old-fashioned chintz; Kari Woo’s serene, coolly contemporary silver jewellery, with its sleek architectural lines.