I think most people who attended last weekend's Fancy Tiger Holiday Handmade Craft Fair -- and there were a lot of them: we've heard estimates of 1,500 or more -- left with a good feeling about the local handmade community. Not only were the 75 or so vendors on board this year both high quality and deliciously diverse, but there simply was an excess of DIY magic in the air, heightened all the more by the ornate surroundings of the 1906 Baerrensen Brothers El Jebel Temple of old, now known as the Sherman Events Center, where it was housed. The homemade goodies from Sugar Bakeshop and food-truck fare available outdoors from Gastro Cart and Denver Biscuit Bus were, yeah, icing on the cake.
If you missed it, you missed it, and there's always next year, as this success story is sure to be back, barring the apocalypse. But keep in mind that many of the same vendors will be at this weekend's Firefly Handmade Holiday Market in Boulder, along with numerous others you might not see as frequently in Denver. And if that's not in the cards for you, a lot of our FTHH favorites sell online, as well. Here's who they are, what they do and where to find them on the web: Click the company names for links.
These two, more often than not, come as a pair, and it makes perfect sense: The designs by both Jil and Pearl's Kirsten Coplans both involve repurposing, though in different ways, and besides, each designer's individual pieces often -- accidentally -- look as if they were meant to go together with the other's in the first place.
The young mother behind Hot Butter takes the dribs and drabs of domestic life -- scraps of fabric, old buttons -- and turns them into something functional and surprisingly modern and cute...for the wallet or coin purses that they are.
In particular, this vintagey Fort Collins boutique makes the most adorable one-of-a-kind Friendly Monsters you've ever seen. Each comes with a name and a short-list of likes.
We simply love these romantic clear-faced pendants of butterflies and birds by Embel'ish. The Pin Pals Samantha Purdy makes amazing folkloric cross-stitched buttons and pendants. Illustrator Sara Guindon makes unique paper toys and t-shirts. Together, they are The Pin Pals and had one of the most unusual and clever booths we saw at FTHH. Paisley Bird Roxann Blue strings little colored glass pendants decorated with fired-oxide images of birds, bugs, bikes and the like on delicate chains.
Heide Murray's felted figures, from Humpty Dumpty snowmen and bunnies in buntings to whimsical mushrooms and pink elephants, sometimes fall into that realm of gewgaws that are so sweet they're almost creepy and sometimes don't. But we love them all, for their vintage-inspired styling and holiday themes.
Stonaker's hand-drawn and stitched dolls and drawings belong in a category all their own: They are edgy, urban, spooky and beautiful. Not the usual stuff.
Carey's ceramics sport themes from nature in a sweet pastel palette that will put you in mind of a sunny spring morning.
Each calendar doubles as a signed art print on French cover; the coolest thing about them is that you can keep the print after the year is over.
Here's another of those artists who create their own creepy-cute little worlds. There's something strangely appealing about this genre: Watkins paints and needle-felts woodland creatures that retain the true laws of the wild, and you never know when they're going to bite you.
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Clothing repurposed for kids, using old rock t-shirts? What's not to love? The Beatles dress remains high on our all-time fave list. Dot and Boots Yeah, just by benefit of being dolls, these fall into the aforementioned creepy and cute realm, although in more of a Tim Burton-ish manner. But they are lovely and well crafted and very unique.
An idea whose time has come, especially in Denver, where the cruiser bikes roll tight every day of the week: Soft and cunning upholstery-fabric bike seat covers and matching handlebar bags and basket liners.