SF City Life

The Handmade Ho-Down

When I hear the words “arts and crafts fair” the first things I usually think of are macrame tea cozies and over-lacquered driftwood clocks. I’ve always assumed they’re places my grandparents liked to pick-up porcelain knick-knacks and talk about the health care initiative. All in all I’ve never really perceived them as something synonymous with the underground art scene and its denizens. Perhaps that’s the reason why The Handmade Ho-Down, one of the city’s newest celebrations of  DIY creativity and ingenuity, came together—to breathe new life into a tried and true local tradition as you could only find here in The City.

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The impetus for the Ho-Down came from a forum discussion on Etsy’s San Francisco message board, explains Rick Kitagawa, one of the fair’s main organizers. “We were all talking, wondering why [Etsy] hadn’t had an event like this in San Francisco.” After proposing the idea to a few other members of the online community, and convincing Etsy to become a committed sponsor, Kitagawa was on his way making his vision a reality. There was however one more focus he wanted to incorporate into the event beyond the merchandise vendors would be selling. “From the get go we wanted something more than just a craft fair,” he explains. Kitagawa and the other organizers wanted to give back to the community their art thrived in, and when they came across Drawbridge, a local charity that donates art supplies and workshops to inner-city youth, it was a perfect opportunity to help out by donating part of the night’s proceeds to the organization. “It’s art, it’s kids—it worked.” Filling three floors with nearly sixty sellers and upward of 1,800 attendants, the night was by all means a success, and hopefully that’s an indication we haven’t heard the last of this fun filled event, because like the crafts on display, it is undoubtedly one of a kind.

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There was a little bit of something for everyone this year, and all the vendors had bargains you couldn’t find anywhere else. Below are some of our choice exhibitors of the evening…

Sinkitty - A Bay Area retailer specializing in custom frames, crucifixes, and sculptures drawing influence from the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos.

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Recover Your Thoughts – When Doug MacNeil came across his local library tossing piles of books into the garbage he came up with an ingenious way to reuse the old hardcovers by turning them into journals and sketchpads.

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Monkey + Seal - Run by Eve Skylar and Handmade Ho-Down organizer Rick Kitagawa, the Monkey + Seal booth had zines, screenprinted ties, and art prints for sale—they even had a charger to put it all on your card!

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Eristotle - Oakland’s Erin Cadd can make a pillow or pincushion out of anything; old fabrics, sheets, and even sweaters! Each piece is individually crafted and no two are alike.

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Laserkitten - Offering laser cut fine jewelery, Laserkitten’s designs pull inspiration from glam rock, the 80’s, 90’s, and as owner Marisa Ravel joked, “anything sparkly.”

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Vinyl Frontier – Hailing from Petaluma, Nicole Vasbinder started Vinyl Frontier when she noticed something missing from other fairs she’d attended. “You see plenty of stuff for girls, but never any stuff for guys too,” she explains. Selling everything from record bowls to LP sleeve notebooks, you’re bound to find something with your favorite band on it.

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Words and photos by Sean Logic

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For information on The Handmade Ho-Down visit the official website.

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