By EMILIE BEGIN and JORDAN KROLL
Frightening life-like marionette dolls, a suitcase with Flava Flav’s face painted on it, and witty, yet borderline offensive homemade greeting cards were among several items available for purchase at the sixth annual Crafty Bastards Craft Fair held Saturday, Oct. 3 in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington D.C.
The fair was “an exhibition and sale of handmade alternative arts and crafts from independent artists,” according to its sponsor, Washington City Paper.
Over 150 vendors had booths set up showcasing art, jewelry, clothing and unconventional items, including Elli Scott, owner and founder of The Prick Cushion.
Scott makes stuffed felt penises and vaginas, often given as Bachelorette party and retirement gifts.The phallic felt creations come in standard flesh tones, in addition to fluorescents and leopard Scott also does custom “hand jobs,” which are made to order per customers’ requests.
Scott said these have become popular with divorcees, who have their ex-husband’s name embroidered on their penis and turn them into “voodoo dicks.” Scott says that the best reactions come from parents who are okay with their children exploring the booth.
Scott even remembers an instance when a child took one of her pricks and proceeded to “pee” on his dad.
There were also artists at the fair demonstrating their craft. Samantha Gordo had her pottery wheel set up and was throwing a pot as she explained she began taking pottery classes six and a half years ago and is now the studio manager at the Hinckley Pottery studio located in the district.
Gordon said she enjoys traveling to fairs like Crafty Bastards because, “[she] gets to share what [she] loves doing with other people.”
It is artists like Scott and Gordon who inspired Kimberly Dorn, Sara Dick, Tina Henry-Barrus and Kelly Rand to start the non-profit organization Hello Craft. Based in the district, Hello Craft is a national organization that promotes independent artists and crafters and educates the public on the benefits of buying handmade goods.
Hello Craft holds events that provide artists with tips on advertising and selling their goods online, in addition to planning field trips to various studios and shops where members can learn about different types of crafting.
Rand, the organization’s program director, was at Crafty Bastards organizing free activities, such as button making, which allowed attendees to walk away with something they made themselves.
Many of the fairs attendees chose to buy higher priced handmade items, such as shirts, instead of cheaper, mass-produced counterparts.
Rand said the purchases are influenced by the idea that there are always stories behind what people make, what materials they use and what process is involved.
“People come up to you and ask you, ‘Where did you get this?’ When it’s from [whatever store], the conversation stops there,” Rand said.
Gordon explained the price tag might be a bit steeper when buying handmade items, but that people appreciate the work that goes in to the product.
“People say, ‘You bought that for how much?’ but then it becomes their favorite piece and they keep coming back,” Gordon said.
Rand thinks that people will buy slightly more expensive, unique items, but also believes that, “a lot of education is involved in getting [them] to buy something handmade versus something mass produced.”
For UMW Senior Lauren Milner, who also attended Crafty Bastards, it is about helping people make a living.
“Although I don’t sell any of the things I make, seeing other artists trying to profit through their craft makes me want to hear their stories and see what they’ve been working on,” Milner said.
Crafty Bastards is just one example of people buying locally handmade goods versus mass-produced items that cost less to make and buy.
The website Etsy, described as “a crafty cross between Amazon and eBay” in a 2007 New York Times article, is an online craft fair that never sleeps, where the customers can interact with the creator of the product they are purchasing.
Whether supporting local artists at a public event or online, buyers are able to purchase a unique product with an interesting story.
“I think the type of people who buy handmade are looking for that unique experience,” Scott said as she began decorating a Halloween-themed penis