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Crafty Wonderland: It's Portlandic!

Urbanmamas_crafty_pockets-cropOh, Portlandia. How you have pointed out in living ultracolor the adorable ridiculousness of Portland.

I was one of the people who (in my own parts imitative and parts mildly inventive way) Put A Bird On It before It was a slogan. I, along with my friend Larissa, was a vendor at an original early version of Crafty Wonderland, on Mother's Day years ago at the Doug Fir. Yes: I had birds on things (and, actually, birds). Now Crafty Wonderland is a full-on extravaganza, complete with thousands of customers (16,000, this year) and a convention center locale.

Walking into the convention center late on the second day of the extravaganza was eerie -- it was a souped-up, echo-ey, blinding version of the one at which I'd vended so many years earlier. Oh, yes, marginally better light. I watched the crafty, local-loving people wandering around, never looking at faces because there was so much stuff to look at instead. I watched the vendors, alternately yawning; staring hopefully at the eyes of passers-by for buy signals, ready to jump up and offer their hard-labored wares; and frantically making more.

At one booth I saw two or three people with quiet portable sewing machines, making more of whatever they were selling. At 4:30 on Sunday -- with less than two hours to go for the weekend -- it almost seemed sad. Not that I couldn't relate to the impulse.

I had forgotten my wallet (not that I had the money to spend, anyway), so I collected photographs and business cards of my favorite vendors. As I still can't afford to buy their beautiful things, I thought I'd share with you -- maybe you can buy some of this great stuff and assuage my guilt as (in some cases) I sew it myself.

Urbanmamas_crafty_biastapePolly Danger Notions. Folding scissors and fabric-covered buttons were sweet and lovely. But it was the handmade bias tape that had me falling over myself to grab a card. Such a great idea -- I've made my own bias tape before and it's a time-consuming process, hard to accept when you're already spending a bunch of time on some lovely project and just want to get on with it already.

lisa johnston-smith functional ceramics. Line-drawings of animals and insects and vegetables seems to be very much the fad this year (Portlandia, are you listening? Put a beetle on it? Put a beet on it?), and these lovely bowls and vases and mugs are supposed to be "made for everyday use." Awesome. I wish I could afford to drink out of one of those mosquito mugs every day!

Tweet Toys. I would have bought one of these sweet wooden sailboats with handmade fabric sails with my last $20 -- if I'd had $20. The caravan wagons, which I didn't see at Crafty Wonderland, are even better. Great toys for little kids whose families are anti-plastic; great toys, really, for any little kids.

Cipriano Designs. Beautiful leather things -- wallets of various sizes, purses, and more -- plus screenprinting, made right here in Portland. You have to see them to understand; they're really beautiful and would be a great gift for a teen or a mama (or me!).

Urbanmamas_crafty_diagrams_cropgirls can tell. I'm pretty sure what the sign said was "diagrams of useful things on useful things." (If not, you can have that slogan free!) I loved these tea towels, lunch bags and note cards with diagrams of things I use every day -- coffee makers and cameras and tandem bikes (ok, I don't have a tandem, but I would if I could).

puji studio. Yep, the bird's on these great handmade pottery pieces (lots of chickens on bowls and tiles), and the eggs, and some zinnias and other bold textural designs. I would love to buy these pretty cups and bowls for my kids, if I had a little more "finished" kitchen and dining room. They're on the long-term list.

Central Treehouse. Shaped crayons are sweet (and currently for sale in the Etsy shop) but it was the lovely ceramic buttons that got me itching to buy. Perfect adornment for wee slippers and handmade shoes and knit sweaters, or decoration for hats or stuffed animals. There was a promise these would be put on Etsy... I hope it's true!

Appetite Home. Beautiful, graphic textiles in potholders, tea towels, and pillows. I need more pretty potholders!

Did you go to Crafty Wonderland this year? I'd love to hear your favorites, too!


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Crafty Wonderland (and yep, I was going back in the -- crowded -- Doug Fir days) is a holiday tradition for my mom, daughter and I. We take a slow trip together, up and down every aisle, making notes of our own and one another's faves, then we split up and shop on our own.

Puji Studios is a favorite of mine as well. I also love Molly Muriel soaps; Stubborn Works for jewelry pieces; artists Rachel Austin and Johanna Wright....the list goes on!

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