Addicted to the craft of crafts

The annual tradition of buying and selling homemade wares is a surprisingly young phenomenon

December may as well be designated craft-sale season.

Every weekend from now until the big day, churches, community centres and even private parties will be inundated with homemade, handcrafted wares courtesy of avid local crafters.

Craft sales first reared their crocheted heads around 15 years ago, according to Fay Thomas, co-owner of Dalcrafts.

“We opened when craft sales first began, and that’s when I got my start in crafting. Since then, larger, non-local chains like Michael’s and Dollarama set up shop here and because their price point is so efficient, crafting has waned a little,” Thomas explained.

Thomas added that it’s the recycling and revising of crafting trends that keeps the hobby fresh and ever-changing.

One such phenomenon occurred with the increasing popularity of scrapbooking about five years ago.

Thomas expanded her business to focus more exclusively on scrapbooking and began to offer scrapbooking lessons to individuals hoping to master the necessary skills to artfully re-imagine their lives and memories.

“For about two years scrapbooking skyrocketed. Stores devoted to it were popping up everywhere. Now it has levelled off,” said Thomas.

The new wave in crafting appears to be an off-shoot of the scrapbooking phenomenon: card making.

“Now 50 per cent of our business is scrapbooking, and the other 50 per cent is card making,” Thomas said.

Aesthetic leanings in modern card making include the addition of ultra-fine glitter and the incorporation of 3D elements.

While it may seem antithetical to the process of crafting to receive instruction, many modern crafters go for the individualized experience lessons provide.

There is also a growing market for crafters skilled enough to turn a profit with their creations to individualize the shopping experience for purchasers interested in their one of a kind items.

“I make most of my money from private parties. I do craft shows and I also have a website, but sometimes you can’t get a feel for what the item really looks like online. The people who attend private parties want to be there,” said crafting entrepreneur Donna Goodman.

Goodman sells jewelry which she makes using lampwork beads, which can be made by the crafter themselves or purchased and then fashioned into a variety of accessories.

Goodman distills the crafting phenomenon to two elements: addiction and the search for authenticity.

“When you start crafting, it’s addicting. Then you need an outlet for all of your creations. People who buy handmaid goods are looking for something one-of-a-kind; something that was made just for them.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 14 of The Uniter (December 3, 2009)

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