As the winter comes to an end, more and more crafters are starting to think about the upcoming fair and craft show seasons. Obviously, there is not just a “summer season”, and that puts a spotlight on one of the most interesting developments in 2012 fair and craft show trends as well, and this is the fact that some crafters have decided to attend only some of the shows rather than all of them.
Known as “seasonal” artisans, these people are the frontrunners of one of the biggest trends to develop in the craft show industry. Rather than emphasizing their arts and crafts work as a full-time avocation, they are reversing the trend and producing their works during a limited time of the year. They do this to ensure quality, but also to prevent burn-out or to limit their creativity. It also gives them the time to explore developing trends and to put a personal spin on the items produced.
Perhaps this is why the next big trend for 2013 is also one of the most creative things to occur in the world of arts and crafts fairs for a long time – repurposing and recycling materials. Whether this means raw materials that might otherwise end up in a dumpster – think scrap metals and various plastics, to old typewriter keys turned into unique pins and jewelry, the trend to reduce waste and go “eco friendly” is really taking off.
This actually lets us see that there are two trends developing – the use of repurposed and recycled materials AND the trend towards eco-friendly crafting. Let’s look at the repurposed materials first.
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Whether you think that an art and craft fair or festival is all about artworks rather than functional goods, or you are one of those who likes to make useful, and yet decorative, goods for the home, you always have to consider the cost of materials. You cannot make a piece of wall art or a handmade floor cloth without first having the raw materials to do so.
For many artisans and crafters, there are alternative supply lines that should be explored. Consider that some crafters make rugs from discarded electric blankets, old jeans, remainders of upholstery rolls, and much more. There are also the crafters who turn old colanders into hanging lamps, and old license plates into purses.
Ultimately, the goal here is to allow the crafter to get materials for free or for almost no out of pocket expense, and which allow them to create artisan goods that are decorative or useful while preventing waste.
Then there are the trends in “green” arts and crafts too. While these crafters might also “source” their materials from alternative suppliers, they are going to also be sure that the materials and processes used are entirely earth friendly. For example, people might recycle or “upcycle” corks from wine bottles into trivets and even large doormats. They may also use woods harvested and grown in responsible ways to make furnishings that are healthy for the home because they contain no toxins or other harmful residues.
There are many ways that the eco-friendly crafter will get their supplies and make goods that are useful, decorative, and easy on the environment, but their goal is to always operate in a sustainable manner. This leads to the next trend which is “travelling less”.
Off the Road
Interestingly enough, as some crafters are shortening their seasons and producing only goods that will sell during specific times of year (such as those making blankets and sweaters), a lot of crafters are planning on doing only one or two festivals or fairs and then remaining “off road” by selling their goods online.
We have all gotten lost for a long stretch of time on sites like Etsy, and these are something akin to year-round arts and crafts festivals. Naturally, there is a lot lost when you cannot touch or feel the goods, and speak directly with the artisan, but this is a trend that many say will actually increase the quality of the goods at actual arts and crafts fairs because so many artisans will save their very best stuff for the “real world” settings.
The Best of the Past
This takes us to the final big trend for 2013 fairs and craft shows, and that is nostalgia. We’ve all noticed the developing trend for retro and vintage goods, and anyone who has spent an hour on a website like eBay understands just how easy it can be to seek to purchase something straight out of their childhood. This has caused many crafters and artisans to sit up and take notice and to begin creating goods that are a direct reflection of the public love for nostalgia.
We see this in everything from artisan prints that use pages from old books or which are inspired by famous children’s tales to the use of recycled materials to create household goods – think clocks made from old board games or bracelets made from game pieces. This last trend is part of the upcycling, eco-friendly, and limited production trends as well.
Which Trend to Choose
Whether you are an artisan looking to develop a stronger niche at fairs and craft shows, or a buyer in search of specific items or goods, you should know that the 2013 season of arts and crafts shows, fairs, and festivals will feature these trends. The shows will all be about optimal creativity, unique and innovative use of available goods and materials, emphasis on the nostalgic or vintage, and frequently focused on eco-friendly design and materials.
The busiest season for arts and crafts fairs and shows is about to begin. You can get a bit of a glimpse or preview of what to expect by perusing artisan websites, and many of the top designers are beginning to post which shows they plan to attend. Make a point of visiting them if you can because even an hour at a craft show will leave you truly inspired.
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