Here come the Crafts!

The Christmas Craft Fair

We have barely put Remembrance Day to bed and now comes the tsunami of Christmas craft fairs. They’re already queuing up in the classified section of the local newspaper. Craft fairs are a great way for churches and social organizations to make a little money and I have found my share of interesting feature stories at some of those events but it does seem , at times, that some people are stringing two buttons together and calling it a craft.

For that reason, the work of a skilled artisan at such a gathering really stands alone. There are a couple of particularly high-end events in Vancouver and the prices reflect the level of talent. The average craft fair, though , is awash in less than breathtaking merchandise. There are acres of knitted baby clothing, homemade jewelry and tabletop greeting cards. I would say the go-to term for much of this is ‘ whimsical ‘. Yes, whimsical. If it looks like an eight year old might have cobbled it together at the kitchen table one Sunday afternoon, then you can always claim it as a bit of whimsy.

I tend to glaze over within ten minutes of hitting a craft fair. Speaking of glaze,  no more pottery, please! Anyone who can lay their moistened palms upon a lump of clay is spinning out their own line of dishes, bowls, moustache mugs and toothbrush holders. I can’t remember ever seeing a single piece of pottery at a craft fair that wasn’t instantly forgettable. If you have a creative itch to make pottery (and then sell it) may I recommend a tube of good cream?

You will find all, if not some variation ,of the following at a craft fair near you.

Someone is infusing oil with herbs. If not oil, than vinegar. If not vinegar than they’re putting all of the same stuff into homemade soap, which is great except it leaves the bottom of your bathtub looking like a compost bin.

There is always one booth crammed with all manner of particularly unattractive, heavily laminated wall clocks.

There is also one guy, a Wilford Brimley-type, who has gone crazy with a jigsaw. He has spent months reducing a large pile of lumber into brightly painted and varnished sets of house numbers, kids’ names, coat racks and whirligigs.

Jigsaw lettering 001

Jigsaw run amok

The jigsaw guy is a close friend of the router guy who can buzz out a cottage name for your place at the lake before you can say Shangri-lah-di-dah.

bad hat

A bad hat

Someone will be selling hats, perhaps the strangest hats you have ever seen. If you receive one of these hats as a present on Christmas morning it will force you to perform an appreciation scene that would make an actor of Meryl Streep’s capabilities blanche.

There will be candles, lots of candles. Some have the potential to stink up the house worse than a pan of fried sardines.

One of the booths will have no customers. It will be deserted, save for the lonely vendor behind the table. I always feel a sharp pang of guilt when I pass this person by and have been known to walk all the way around the building in the opposite direction to avoid it. If this makes me shallow, so be it.

Somewhere amid the sea of bric-a-brac will be one very good idea. The kind of idea that makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it first.

And finally there will be the gag gift. This has been produced by someone who thinks they have stumbled upon the funniest damn notion since the dawn of man. They’re hoping you will think so too. I’ve witnessed them all….from the Pet Wok (small metal bowl in a box)…to the fake reindeer poop (falls under the whimsical excrement category).

The worst one I’ve seen featured a piece of orange felt topped with a quarter that had been glued to the bottom jaw of a clothes pin. A miniature mallet was attached to the top. When you squeezed the pin, the mallet levered up and down over the coin and the felt. This was called a ‘quarter pounder with cheese’. Get it?

A quarter pounder with cheese 003

A quarter pounder with cheese

It was so dumb I bought two.

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