The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 04, 2012

DIY economy flourishes at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair

Posted by rsharp

More vendors than ever before filled out the fairgrounds, where the event returned for its second year.

An upbeat and craft-loving crowd stormed the Masonic Temple over Dec. 1-2, to kick off holiday shopping with a DIY bent at the 7th annual Detroit Urban Craft Fair (DUCF) organized by Handmade Detroit. With more than 100 vendors, including returning favorites and brand new participants, the fair drew more attendance than ever, even up against other Detroit standbys, including the 40th Noel Night gathering, which drew packed crowds on Saturday evening.

Light displays by The Society of National Industry.

The craft fair was family-friendly and business was brisk, with homemade items ranging from the wearable, comestible, burnable and breathtaking-to-beholdable. Overall, it was a fitting occasion to consider artisan craftsmanship, and one of this blogger’s favorite subjects for debate: the conceptual separation of “arts” and “crafts.”

Wistful papercraft and illustration by Sally Harless - looks like art to me!

Purple Hippo Stitches - not your grandma's cross-stitch.

While champions of art school education and the distinction of fine art disciplines may argue that art must exist solely for its own sake, it is my considered opinion that bringing beauty into everyday living is an equally legitimate purpose. DIY culture is not about saving money or conserving existing resources (though that may be among the fringe benefits to the process), it is about bringing a higher level of care and attention to the creation of daily objects and the enhancement that such care creates in the life of both the maker and the user.

Ocelot Print Shop - a newly forming Midtown screen-print collective, dedicated to bringing DIY capacity to all those interested in making their own prints.

It is heartening to see a fundamentally different approach to object-making taking hold and gaining a market here in Detroit, a city built and run on automation and assembly-line production. Even a cursory spin around the fair clearly demonstrates the wealth of artisan experience we have to draw upon as we learn to do-it-ourselves.

Fancies from The Foraging Florist, Andy Sell. Why, you say? Why not?

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