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A Craft Thing’s Winter Fling brings artisans, community together

Over 30 vendors will come together this Saturday to celebrate Winter Fling, A Craft Thing. A mix between craft sale and prom, the event will take place at AJ’s music cafe on 9 mile in Ferndale.

A Craft Thing, spearheaded by Shannon McCarthy, organized the event so that every item sold will be both handmade and local.

This event is just one of many around the Detroit area contributing to Crafting/D.I.Y. culture’s recent explosion around the country. Chalk it up to a shifting economy where people are more interested in the story and sentimental experience behind buying an object than just accumulating things. Maybe it’s the wave of nostalgia that seems to have permeated modern culture. McCarthy says she’s unsure, but suggests this rise in popularity is perhaps “something to do to feel a part of a community.”

Creating a community is one of the prime reasons she set out to organize this event. “I want everyone to know each other,” she explains, “there are already people who are sharing tables who have never met before– they’ve been talking a lot now.”

She tries to include more than just the usual suspects: a “rotation of faces,” as she likes to call it. As such, she insists that there will be something for everyone there: knit wear, paintings, guy’s stuff, soy candles, journals, jewelry, buttons and more.

There are also a number of crafters who are fresh to the scene. “A whole new generation is becoming involved,” she says. Two of her key volunteers are seniors in high school.

This recent explosion and the wide array of people crafting attracts have had some interesting effects. In some ways, the line these days between craft and art is increasingly murky. “It’s hard,” McCarthy says, “there are some guys who are just selling paintings, so I can’t call them crafters, and at the same time I wonder whether someone who just knits can be called an artist.”

This complication is revealed in her own work as well. “It’s an extension of who I am,” Shannon says of her crafting line, Comfortably Lovely. The line reflects a certain nostalgia for childhood and the time she spent nannying. Exploring the I that is, always considered in the domain of “art” proper, seems very much at home in the type of creative work traditionally filed (perhaps unfairly) under “craft.” She’s convinced that the two bleed into one another.

Either way, you should be sure to check out this event. You’ll be supporting your community, contributing to a new economic model, and supporting your local artists. Besides that, handmade almost always makes for a better gift than mass-produced.

For more information on A Craft Thing, the Winter Fling, or the vendors participating, visit http://acraftthing.net/ . Be sure to check out the blog after the event as well. There should be craft tutorials and more to come!

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