I didn’t grow up in Utah, so the stigma that is attached to crafting being an old-fashioned pastime was never something I experienced. My mom and grandmother crafted and sewed, but it was never pushed on me as something I “had to do” – it was something I loved to do! I loved that I could take an old blanket or a cardboard box and end up with a new purse, an awesome Halloween costume, amazing birthday party decorations or handmade Christmas ornaments. I genuinely enjoyed not only the creativity involved, but learning a new skill and pushing myself to get better. I had fun making cute, little Fimo clay sculptures for a diorama and sewing a quilted, isosceles triangle pillow as my final project for geometry class. Having crafty skills meant that I could turn almost any boring school assignment into an art project. Unfortunately, as I grew up and ventured into the world on my own, life got in the way of fun, and I slowly did fewer and fewer creative things.
A few years ago, I heard about the very first Craft Lake City festival from a friend and we decided to go, cash in hand, and shop the day away. Which we did! (With great skill, might I add.) What I didn’t expect from my visit to the Gallivan Center that day was to be so impressed by the artists who were selling their creations. These were regular people who simply had a passion for their craft. They were driven and excited and you could tell they really enjoyed what they did. There were full-time artists and part-time hobbyists, stay-at-home parents and professional wood-workers. The array of goods was not the only thing that was expansive, but so was the style, ranging from Native-American designs to modern poster art and everything in between.
I left Craft Lake City that day inspired! Not just because I saw so many amazing artists, but because I was reminded that everybody has the ability to create beautiful, funky, fun and unique things. In the last few years, largely due to my visit to the very first Craft Lake City, that day my inner crafter has been reawakened! When I find a junky chair at a garage sale, I don’t think, “Man, that would be cool if…” Instead, I take it home and bust out the spray paint. It is fun to look at that chair a year later and think, “Hey! I totally made that.”
And it’s not just me who has been bitten by the craft bug. More and more of my friends have been “ooing and ahhing” over DIY creations. People I know, who would have described themselves in the past as “not very artsy,” are now running around, gathering up items from the candy aisle (yes, you read that right!), thrift stores, antique shops and garage sales, all with plans to create something AWESOME. And, with so many fantastic local artists around, we have a never-ending supply of inspiration. The best part about crafting is that whether or not your project actually turns out looking awesome, it certainly is FUN!
Now, when I visit Craft Lake City and walk from booth to booth, I have a different outlook. I don’t just buy things; I learn and am encouraged by the artists. Last year, I saw this super-cute stuffed penguin that I wanted SO BADLY, but after chatting with the gal who made them, I ended up purchasing the patterns she had made instead, so I could make my own stuffed cuties. Each artist, each little piece of handmade marvelousness and each shy smile or heart-felt explanation I encounter at Craft Lake City is enough to continually renew my love for creating (and shopping, of course!). I am so stoked that I visited Craft Lake City that very first year and I am already getting a little antsy waiting to see what treasures it will hold this year.
I hope everyone who has thought about going in the past gets up off their butts and visits this year. Even if not in search of some “Craft-tacular, Life-Changing Epiphany” as I experienced, maybe just because it is a fun, free, outdoor, family-friendly way to spend a beautiful summer day.
Tara Bueche-Robbins is Craft Lake City’s Volunteer Coordinator. Tara goes out of her way to insure that everyone knows about Craft Lake as well as the amazing volunteer opportunities available through CLC. She is well known throughout the community, helping out at the Iris Piercing Studio or showing houses for Urban Utah. If you’re in the market for a new piercing, jewelry or a new house, Tara’s your girl. She is always smiling and brings life and energy to any situation. She is an advocate for the city and is always out and about showing support for all things local while helping Salt Lake City become the best that it can be. We are excited to have her on our team. If you are interested in working with Tara and getting to know her for yourself, sign up to be a CLC volunteer! Head over to craftlakecity.com/volunteer to sign up today.