Salt Lake City gets crafty for Craft Lake City
To some people, the word "craft" means crocheted scarves and homemade jams and jellies. To others, it represents oil paintings and sculptures.
The organizers of the annual Craft Lake City festival take a broader view, saying it's anything people make by hand.
"We promote do-it-yourself culture," said Angela Brown, founder of the two-day festival that takes place Friday and Saturday at the Gallivan Center. "Part of that is breaking down the term 'craft' and redefining it."
Now in its fifth year, Craft Lake City features only Utah artisans and performers, and encourages people to buy locally.
"Craft Lake City is all about community and all about Utah," said marketing manager Karamea Puriri. "We try to highlight local artists and keep money here."
Festival attendees can buy everything from oil paintings to crocheted clothing. There are homemade food items and tech devices. There also are performances by local musicians because "music is a craft,too."
"Last year one of the artisans sold guitars made from cigar boxes," Brown said. "It really is thinking outside the box with who we accept into the festival."
Brown started Craft Lake City in 2009 from her passion for DIY activities. When she was a child, her mother taught her to can, took her to LDS Relief Society craft nights and made her dresses.
As a teen, Brown got involved with the punk music scene, which had its own DIY culture. She said bands often printed their own shirts and designed their own posters. When she heard about DIY fairs in larger cities like New York, Brown decided Salt Lake City needed one of its own.
"I wanted to bring art outside of the galleries," she said. "Fine art paintings take as much love as a crocheted bag, but people don't always see [the bag] as art."
Until now, Craft Lake City was a volunteer organization run by part-time DIY enthusiasts. The organization just received nonprofit status and hopes to hire a full-time staff soon.
"Part of why we went nonprofit was to get grant money for a full-time staff," Brown said. "Right now it is a labor of love."
Craft Lake City hosts DIY crafting workshops throughout the year; look for a full schedule at craftlakecity.com.
But Brown said the festival is the best place to interact with artisans and learn why they are passionate about their crafts.
"You can connect your purchases with the artist," she said. "And you can form a relationship with them."
Brown and Puriri say DIY products possess a quality that is not found in retail stores.
"There's more of an attachment to an item I've made myself," Puriri said, "or one made by an artisan I've been working with for months."
Craft Lake City's DIY Fair
When • Friday, Aug. 9, 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 10, noon to 10 p.m.
Where • The Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main, Salt Lake City
Cost • Free admission