Craftin’ Outlaws, Columbus’ longest running “alternative craft fair,” began in 2005 as the brainchild of then-local crafter Liz Rosino. Liz was seeking an outlet for her LuckyKat line of funky painted housewares, but was disappointedly getting turned down by more traditional shows. Not one to be discouraged, and with wares that didn’t quite fit the mold of those conventional marketplaces, Liz conjured up her own show, ordained it Craftin’ Outlaws and made Columbus indie craft fair history.
The first Craftin’ Outlaws, held at Skully’s Music Diner, was “an instant and overwhelming success” for an initial show, according to its current orchestrator, Megan Green (of Stinkybomb Soap fame). Liz discovered a posse of kindred crafters with avant-garde, quirky and unusual handicrafts seeking a more original outlet for their goods. Even more essential, the event was met with much acclaim from Columbus attendees who were appreciative of the distinctive event and shopped mightily for the holidays.
Craftin’ Outlaws spent two more years at Skully’s Music Diner before nomadically roaming first to the Bluestone (now BOMA), then to the Lodge Bar, but they seem to have found an appropriate home at the Gateway Film Center where they will spend their third year for the upcoming November 17th event. A key factor in determining the venue for Craftin’ Outlaws has been the prerequisite of having a bar on the premises. While the event is definitely kid-friendly, it still emphasizes its “outlaw” edginess with both artisans and attendees indulging in an adult beverage or two during the show.
In 2008 Craftin’ Outlaws founder Liz Rosino decided to move cross country to Portland, Oregon. Megan Green, and a band of merry crafters, assisted Liz with nurturing and maintaining her “baby” in light of her new, remote residence. There were numerous folks lending a hand, but there was no single person with overall control of the event. “So I bullied my way in and blindly took it over,” says Megan.
Megan had Liz’s support as they both loved Craftin’ Outlaws, recognized its significance for Columbus’ indie crafting community, and wanted to sustain it even in the absence of its founder. These days Liz’s involvement is minimal aside from offering ample moral support. She redesigned the website last year but she is busy with her day job at a museum and a robust handmade business on the side (check out Blue Diamond Stamps on Etsy).
In her role as “Craftin’ Outlaws Captain,” Megan runs “a tight ship.” She handles all of the organizational aspects as well as the social media communications, website updates and email correspondences with the various vendors. She’s working with Alexandra Kelley Fox for a little added promotional support this year. And she has an “elite group of helpers” who constitute the jury for Craftin’ Outlaws.
Five participating Outlaws each with different aesthetics and areas of artisanal expertise comb through the copious applications (they received 200 vying for the 52 spots this year). The jury process can take from 3-5 hours as each application is thoroughly vetted and various aspects are considered: what does the crafter create, how well is the product constructed, what are the component parts and process for the creation of the items, what is the retail cost of the finished goods and how is their product differentiated from the rest of the applications? Craftin’ Outlaws seeks the best of the best…and they comb the Midwest to find them.
The vendors of Craftin’ Outlaws, while encompassing many Columbus creatives, include artisans from Chicago, Cleveland, Dayton, Detroit, Indiana, Kentucky and Pittsburgh, so it’s not all the usual suspects you are going to regularly find at the local shows.
The 2012 Craftin’ Outlaws will be held on Saturday, November 17 from 10AM-5PM at the Gateway Film Center at 1550 North High Street. Early bird passes are available online at craftinoutlaws.com for $5. The first 100 prepaid passes will receive a custom Craftin’ Outlaws tote bag created by Alison Rose. The passes entitle the bearer to advanced admission from 10-11AM and eligibility for the raffle of handmade goods provided by the vendors and sponsors. A portion of the early bird proceeds benefit Project Zero. So what are you waiting for? If early admission, charity contribution and raffle qualification aren’t your thing, don’t sweat it, you can get in free from 11AM-5PM and shop to your heart’s desire.
Visit CraftinOutlaws.com for more information.