Crafty Bastards: ‘Not your grandmother’s craft show’ hits DC – WTOP

WASHINGTON — On Sept. 26 and 27, roughly 25,000 people will flock to D.C.’s Union Market for an annual craft show — only, this isn’t your grandmother’s craft show.

“I remember one of the first [submissions] we got was … for a creation called a tampon doll, which sounds disgusting, but it was this cute little plush thing with a smiley face on it,” recalls Crafty Bastards founder and director Sarah Dick.

“We were like, ‘Yes. That is what we’re talking about.’ It’s those weird, quirky things that are not on the market right now.”

Now in its 12th year, Crafty Bastards is back, and it’s bigger than ever with more than 170 vendors selling everything from handmade leather bags to illustrated cookbooks, ceramics, comics and more.

And yes, you might even find a tampon doll in the mix.

“It’s basically like curated Etsy in real life,” Dick says.

She and a few colleagues at The Washington City Paper started Crafty Bastards in 2004 as a response to the resurgence in crafting and all-things homemade.

“And we thought that married really well with D.C.’s sort of punk-rock roots and sensibility,” Dick says.

The group gave the festival an edgy name and established a few simple rules to set Crafty Bastards apart from more traditional craft shows.

“No wooden ducks and bonnets; we tried to make it clear what sort of things we were looking for,” Dick says. Which is products that resonate with a more alternative and eclectic audience.

A few years ago, D.C. resident Mariko Iwata helped sell cards at a vendor table at Crafty Bastards. This year, she’s returning to the festival — only with a table of her own.

The founder and owner of Miks Letterpress makes greeting cards and other stationary products with a 2,500-pound vintage letterpress machine.

“I love writing letters, and I’ve always been taught to write thank you notes. I’d be on a hunt to find the best thank you letter and I just felt like there wasn’t anything out there that was right for me,” says Iwata, who learned letterpress after obtaining a degree in fine arts.

She decided making her own cards was the only way to get the product she wanted. Now she makes a catalog full of unique and pithy birthday, baby, wedding and other celebratory cards using a blind impression technique, which adds an extra visual and tactile element to the card.

In addition to shopping, Crafty Bastards will also have a beer garden and a number of hands-on activities for attendees.

“When you’re in the middle of all this great handmade stuff, so many people get this itch to make something. So when the inspiration strikes, we want to have that stuff available for people to get their hands dirty,” Dick says.

The D.C. Public Library will bring its 3-D printer for hands-on demonstrations (Dick says the printer was a huge hit last year), and there will also be a kids’ DIY table for the younger festival goers.

“For the parents to see their kids engage with an activity that’s not a screen necessarily, it’s refreshing,” Dick says.

And while the holiday season may seem like it’s eons away, the reality is, it’s just around the corner. And Crafty Bastards is a great opportunity to pick up some unique gifts and check a few people off that list.

The festival runs both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dick says peak hours are between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — so if you don’t like big crowds, plan accordingly. Tickets are $6 for one day or $10 for the weekend.

Dick advises serious shoppers to consult the vendor list before arriving, and make a list of the booths you really want to hit. “Once you get there, it can just be a little overwhelming, so it’s nice if you have a game plan,” she says.

Crafty Bastards also put together a few Pinterest boards to highlight some new products and to help with gift ideas for shoppers.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for people to find the things that they really want,” Dick says.

UPDATE 7:37 a.m.: Festival organizers advise attendees to take the Metro to Crafty Bastards. Union Market is within walking distance from the NoMA-Gallaudet stop on Metro’s red line. 

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