this weekend, I headed over to Fort Mason to check out a new show*, West Coast Craft. I planned to spend just a couple of hours, and ended up staying almost half of the day. between discovering new products, spending time meeting the artists, and learning about their craft and processes, time really flew by- I even forgot that I was standing on a broken toe! the most enjoyment came from engaging with the vendors- I heard such a range of inspiring, meaningful personal stories, and I loved seeing how these moments and inspirations translated into each maker’s work.
what was great about this show was the focus- this wasn’t your mom’s craft fair, and it wasn’t a sprawling trade show. generally at shows this size- a very small amount of vendor booths have product that is of the quality, aesthetic, and presentation that i am looking for as a buyer**. West Coast Craft was the opposite experience- I found something interesting at almost every stop. the vibe of the show was not about consumption, but more so, about discovery- it felt laid-back, informed, progressive, and well-intentioned.
there was a tight edit on the vendor group, all with similar (higher-end) price points, and the mix of shoppers represented this- younger, stylishly bohemian, interested in supporting the handmade community, and with the appearance of money to spend. I overheard many great, informed conversations between shoppers and makers, got some new fashion ideas while people watching, and yes, dodged quite a few strollers.
a few of the underlying themes that caught my eye- natural dye, hand-weaving, simple pottery with weight to it, leather, materials in their natural (unfinished/treated) state, wall hangings, brass (still), clean lines, and the color white. there was not a piece of reclaimed wood or bird motif in the place, and that felt great and forward to me.
the show did seem Los-Angeles heavy. there is a very specific aesthetic and set of materials that is fully embraced by that artist community which was well represented at West Coast Craft- hand-built pottery, macrame, fiber art, as examples. The Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest were under-represented, and as I was walking through, I thought of a few vendors that I would have loved to see at this show for balance.
there were a lot of things that caught my eye at West Coast Craft- I’ve pictured just a few here, and linked the rest. (it is nearly impossible to take blog-appropriate photos at a show like this, and most of mine didn’t meet my standard- if the standard black curtain-backdrops were all replaced with unbleached canvas- different story!)
as a first show, i thought this was well done at all steps- thanks to the West Coast Craft team for a great event!
Ambatalia- Molly was way ahead of the curve with her line of kitchenwares designed in support of a non-disposable life. I thought her linen quality was great, and particularly admired an unbleached, organic cotton gauze scarf. She also taught me a new trick- I can now turn a simple square scarf into a market bag with just a few knots!
A Little Weather- Jessica’s story is so amazing! She’s just moved from Oregon to a farm in North Carolina, where she is taking early steps towards raising sheep that will provide wool for her incredible hand-spun, hand-woven blankets. I will definitely be taking her up on her offer to visit next time I’m out there.
Rachel Duvall- Rachel’s booth was bright, airy, and colorful- I loved how she’d displayed her weavings, and in particular, the amazing lightweight linen piece she had. She is beginning to work more with natural dyes, and some of the colors she was able to get were really incredible.
Agnes Baddoo- you may have spotted Agnes’s beautiful leather bags on Tomboy Style. In person, they are just as gorgeous, as is Agnes herself. She offers the bag in a few leather options, all American-sourced. My favorite was the canvas + natural.
Jess Feury- another purchase I regret not making- I loved Jess’s free-form weaving, and particularly her pillows. She had a beautiful eye for color, fiber, and balance. View some images of her work and beautiful Oakland home here.
Alice Tacheny- I first saw Alice’s work earlier this fall, and had the chance at WCC to spend a good amount of time talking with her. She works primarily in brass and wood, but had a new furniture piece integrating leather that was my favorite of the show.
Brendon Farrell- this was my favorite booth design of the show, it functioned more like an impeccably designed mini-shop. Brendon is actually an architect, and his attention to detail and craft was evident in the quality of his leather and wood work.
Homestead Apothecary- this Oakland shop has been on my list to visit, and after seeing a small selection of their wares at WCC, I definitely need to make a trip across the bay. I purchased some delicious elderflower honey and a handmade guide to herbal remedies.
Mt. Washington Pottery- I’ve seen Beth’s work popping up recently on the internet, and it was beautiful to see – all white, simple shapes that fit perfectly in the hand. Her lamps were incredible and I keep dreaming of them in my living room.
TW Workshop- I caught up with Tracy briefly, which was lovely- her work has developed so much since I first visited her in her home studio a couple of years ago, and I loved her new glaze colors and techniques. I’m really regretting not buying one of her baixa vessels for my mantel!
Taylor Stitch- we all know I am a fan, and it was great to meet these guys in person. turns out one of their founders is also from Philly! small world. among other things, they were really excited about this shirt in collaboration with friends Art in the Age, one of my favorite shops near my old house.
*as a buying consultant, one of the services I offer is show coverage. if you are a retail/ecommerce store and would like to know more about my show services and artisan vendor network- please contact me through my website.
**if you are an artist/maker and want to know more about how to better gain the interest of major retail buyers at shows- I can help! please contact me through my website.
[SHOW RECAP] WEST COAST CRAFT