CRAFTING COMES ALIVE IN NORTHEAST OHIO
Story by Brittany Nader
Crafters sit behind treasure troves of trinkets and baubles, some adorned in colorful pieces of unique
regalia, others in the shadowy background as stagehands setting their scenes with a quiet determination.
Some artisans are from another time, dressed in heavy beige and creamy ruffles. Some, young and
trendy, in vintage tops and expensive shoes.
They come from all around Ohio, making the grand voyage from here to there, carrying parcels of
handmade items to turn tabletops into masterful exhibits of months, even years, of building, sewing and
The craft scene is alive and well in Northeast Ohio, and our craftsmen and women are working behind
the scenes of their everyday obligations as parents, students, clerks, drifters. They are in the business
of DIY, and from town to town they roam, colorful vagabonds, showing off art in touchable, tangible
Where does one go in search of that truly unique handcrafted item? The perfect gift or expression of
individuality? Arts and crafts festivals permeate our midwestern turf several times a year. Vendors
pay a small amount for an empty table, a blank canvas in which to display their work. From jewelry
to paintings, zines to handbags, instruments to toys, there is something that will resonate with every
What rings true with most salesmen and women is the passion behind their work. When you spend a
few dollars for their handcrafted creation, they will tell you where each bead came from and how to
care for the item so it reaches its maximum longevity. They will often throw in a free item or start a
lively conversation about the fruits of their labor.
It is a relationship built on networking, community bonding and love of the art. Craft fairs and art
festivals provide patrons with an experience more intimate than the nauseating chaos of the local
shopping mall. Your feet may shuffle through sloshy mud, your mouth may salivate at the smell of
a frothy cappuccino. Indoors or out, these festivals lie in warm environments such as parks, coffee
houses and brick side streets.
Although many familiar faces and items are seen at such gatherings, there is a niche-type aspect of
each festival that attracts a crowd more diverse than the previous. From animal bone jewelry to monster
toys, there is something for every person looking for that truly unique experience.
This November, aficionados of the bizarre will enjoy Oddmall, a celebration of weird arts and crafts.
The event takes place in Hudson and features performers, vendors and artists who appreciate offbeat
oddities. This year, the so-called "Emporium of the Weird" hosts its holiday celebration. Venture to the
freaky celebration for a gift that is truly unique.
Clarion Hotel and Conference Center (Akron area)
240 East Hines Hills Road
Hudson, Ohio 44236
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Open to the public: 10am-6pm
Vendor Setup: Friday 7:30pm-midnight, Saturday 8am-10am
In the spring, Downtown Akron holds Crafty Mart, a colorful assortment of creative fare from a
younger set of vendors. Held in Musica, a venue/coffee house rising in popularity, tables are stationed
in a cozy environment with a whole lot of hip goods to scour. From Ohio printed tees to modern posters
and beyond, Crafty Mart is a perfect stop for Ohio natives of the indie persuasion.
Akron's trendy Highland Square packs an intimate array of tents and tables on the blocked-off West
Market Street every September. Much like the daytime art-lined streets of Canton's First Fridays, Art in
the Square fills the neighborhood with creative wares from college students, older residents and
travelers alike. Expect to see quirky art and hear live reggae ringing from the Highland Square Library
parking lot. Local businesses welcome passersby to cool off with a sandwich from Mr. Zubs or record
browsing from Square Records.