Handmade is hot. There’s no denying the popularity local makers and artisans have wrangled in the last few years. But years before the DIY craze hit, Susie Daly was on the front lines, fighting for a show where indie artists and up-and-coming designers would feel welcome. From that desire, Chicago’s Renegade Craft Fair was born.
Ten years later, Daly and her team crisscross the country running fairs in five different U.S. cities, and even trekking across the ocean to set up shop in London. But nothing beats coming back home to Chicago where it all started.
“Each city has its own local flavor,” said Erin Dollar, the head of Renegade Craft Fair’s media and marketing department. “Our Chicago fairs are always imbued with a special Midwestern charm that isn’t quite the same in other cities.”
In the years since the economic downtown, more artisans and makers have surfaced, Dollar said. With fewer traditional job opportunities available, more people are forging their own path and pursing their passion for the arts, she said.
“Our Chicago fairs are always imbued with a special Midwestern charm that isn’t quite the same in other cities.”Renegade Craft Fair
We asked the staff to share some of their favorite artists at the Chicago Renegade Craft Fair Dec. 7 and 8. Here’s who they picked:
The Best of the Midwest
Enclosed in tiny glass spheres and large glass planters are the rocks, moss, plants and figurines Marco Chavarry uses to create his lush botanical escapes. Who couldn’t use one of these for their desk or dining room table?
Geiman turns salvaged wood and found objects into collaged creatures and scenes of Americana: bison, bears, crabs and even a deer head mounted on the wall.
Pick your poison—a carryall in polka dots, or a clutch in the waffle board pattern? We love the screen-printed, metallic gold fold over clutch; day to night style perfection.
Beauty and brains—Modern Sprout’s planters have both. The adorable box planters come fully set up so you can enjoy the fruits (or herbs) of hydroponic growing, with little effort. Plus, you’ll never confuse basil for oregano again with the convenient chalkboard.
Now you finally have the perfect way to congratulate, say thanks or wish the foodie in your life happy birthday in words they’re sure to understand.
How about a little life wisdom from rappers Ice Cube or Vanilla Ice? Thanks to the latter for reminding us that “Anything less than the best is a felony.” True words to remember.
How would you like a ceramic flower vase or a tumbler that forgoes the standard flat bottom in favor of an angled one? We know, it sounds crazy—but Stak Ceramics makes it work.
16 Sparrows isn’t afraid of a little sass and sarcasm in the name of letter writing (like this new way to say Happy Valentine’s Day). They even started a group dedicated to individuals who swear by pen and paper.
New(ish) Renegade Artists to Watch
Are you a busy urbanite in need of respite? Than Lieber’s mossy work is for you. Her green landscapes are meant to bring a sense of calm and clarity to the viewer—a hypothesis backed up by evidence from Ecopsychology studies.
The two men behind Hidden Folk are “desert wanderers” at heart who met by chance at a Chicago dance party. Now they arrange gorgeous succulent floral arrangements and craft natural body tonics, perfumes and soaps (think katrafay, spruce black and opopanax).
These bags are made by hand in a tiny apartment in Madison, Wis., the old-fashioned way: the fabric is found and washed with homemade soap, cut and sewn using a single needle vintage machine and then hammered to attach the finishing snaps and rivets.
Graphic stamps and illustrations are punctuated by bright colors (we love the electric robin’s egg blue) on tea towels and calendars. Plus, Leela Robinson, aka “Bear,” sells a line of return address stamps (foxes, swans, cacti and more) that has us itching to send snail mail to whoever we can.
Lee Bennett’s newest collection a handmade journals and books (we love the hand sewn bindings) are infused with graphic shapes and bold pops of color against neutral backdrops.
Hidden Gems Not to Miss
Through the stylized triangles and half-moon rounds in Hannah Ferrara’s hand crafted jewelry, one can envision the landscape that surrounds her: the mountains of North Carolina.
The perfect card for winter—this duotone lithographic print (in black or white) features photographs of actual snowflakes caught on black velvet before they melted
Shelter is the brainchild of an architect and a painter/illustrator who needed the perfect bag to gather the wild edibles and mushrooms they collected in Vermont. Surely if it can handle flora and fauna, a laptop will be no problem.
That digital time keeper on your bedside table monitoring each passing minute can’t hold a candle to these laser cut wood designs. The delicate loops of Mimo’s clocks would make telling time (and keeping it) a much more enjoyable affair