A Handmade Extravaganza at the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange
Each June I look forward to spending every cent of my savings on one-of-a-kind, handmade goods from some of the craftiest folks in the Midwest. The INDIEana Handicraft Exchange brings modern craftspeople and indie art supporters together. Last Saturday, 100 vendors spread their wares across their tables and set to work, greeting and exchanging with enthusiastic customers. It feels like the return-to-craft and buy-local movement is growing. People really do appreciate homemade things now, and it’s comforting to see it unfold.
All things involving paper and ink suck me in. I don’t know if it’s the matte sheets, the crisp lines of the font, or the inspiration I gain from holding a blank paged book, but paper hits the soft spot. There were many printmakers, illustrators, and the like this year. This kind of (very affordable) stuff is what turns a bland apartment into a showcase.
I am tickled to see what un-jewelry-like objects can be transformed into wearable art. These artists seem to say, “Paper, not a problem. Felted wool, a cinch. Board game pieces, no sweat. Shrink art, why the hell not?” I agree; we liked it when we were kids, and we like it now. I love such out-of-the-box creativity. It fills life with whimsy and spunk. Don’t get me wrong, though. I dig a finely fabricated, silver pendant or a hand carved wooden ring. These pieces are timeless.
Even though I’m well into my 20’s, I’m still enamored with funky plush creatures. The little kid inside me wants to fill a Pet Net full of these completely unique…things. They’re not quite dolls or animals, but I wouldn’t call them monsters. Whatever you want to call them, I call them awesome.
Being able only to sew a straight line, my jaw drops at the sight of tailored clothing and accessories. Screen printed items always catch the eye. How could you walk away from the perfect printed T? T-shirts are the ultimate souvenir, but why stop at a T-shirt? (I say this as my wallet aches.)
Soaps scented so sweetly they seemed good enough to eat, cookies which were definitely good enough to eat, and ice cream served in bowls made by special needs kids kept our taste and smell senses alight. Some vendors demonstrated their skills right at their table. The deep connection of from hand, by hand, to hand is truly what the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange is all about. It’s a good thing my wallet has time to recover before next year.