For the past few years in Washtenaw County, the second weekend of December has been the time to shop for wonderful handcrafted goods from local artists at pop-ups, craft fairs, and studio shows.
An easy way to find out what’s happening where is to check out the stops on the second annual [http://winterarttour.com|Winter Art Tour], which takes you to 10 venues across Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti where you can shop handmade goods from over 300 artists during the weekend of Dec. 8-10. There's a passport to get stamped as you visit each of the tour's locations, and if you hit at least four spots, you have a chance to win beautiful handcrafted prizes.
The event features two large craft fairs and several smaller studio sales across Washtenaw County:
Those looking for wonderful handmade gifts in Washtenaw County are in luck this December! Last year Pulp focused on four events in the county, but in 2016 there's a lot more going on. In fact, a local group has created an official [http://www.winterarttour.org/|Winter Art Tour] that takes you to nine stops at craft fairs and art studios across Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti the weekend of December 9-11. There's even a passport you can get stamped when you visit one of the tour's locations, and if you hit up at least four spots, you have a chance to win cool handcrafted prizes. See the [http://www.winterarttour.org|WAT website] for all the details on the Winter Art Tour’s passport and prizes.
Tiny Expo takes place at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library and is an annual holiday fair that features 45 artists and crafters selling their wares in a festive library space. This one-day celebration (December 10, 11 am-5:30 pm) will also have several make-n-takes, including screen printing, button making, and tiny polymer clay snow globes.
The Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti is home to [http://www.diypsi.com/|DIYpsi], which will host 90 vendors of the best in handmade from the Midwest. It’s a chance to enjoy handcrafted food and drinks while you get your shop on at this super-fun two-day show. (December 10, 11 am-6 pm; December 11, 12-6 pm)
Plan your weekend accordingly and hit up both events!
In contrast, if you’re looking for cozy spaces with unique art by local artisans, the rest of the stops on the Winter Art Tour have you covered.
As summer winds down and the nights grow shorter we find ourselves seeking out great outdoor events to attend to soak up as much summertime as we can. One such event to help send the month of August out with a bang is the [http://www.diypsi.com|DIYpsi Summer Festival], which takes place at ABC Microbrewery in Ypsilanti. This twice-a-year craft fair pulls out all the stops during its summer shows, as it continues to grow in size and amazingness each year. This not-to-be-missed show not only boosts the local economy and supports the arts, it combines so many elements to enjoy in one location, and this year they are going all out.
You’ll find over 80 top notch [http://www.diypsi.com/vendors/|craft vendors] from the Midwest selling superb handmade goods, as well as delicious foods on board, specialty craft brews, and a plethora of [http://www.diypsi.com/upcoming-events/|live music] featuring local musicians that will be jamming out all weekend enhancing the already chill vibe. The organizers have some special treats in store this summer that include [http://theatrebizarre.com/|Theatre Bizarre] working carnival games as well as a petting zoo at this indoor/outdoor extravaganza.
Between the crafts, food, beer, and a mini donkey, what more could you ask for in a summer weekend?!
Amanda Schott is a Library Technician at the Ann Arbor District Library and is a super mega ultra fan of craft fairs.
[http://www.diypsi.com|DIYpsi] takes place at ABC Microbrewery (Corner) in Ypsilanti on Saturday, August 27 from 11 am- 8 pm (bands play until 11 pm) and Sunday, August 28 from 12 pm- 6 pm. Admission is a $1 suggested donation. The event is 21+ unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The pointless dreams of husband and wife team Jason and Tori Tomalia came true in mid-December as their [http://www.pointlessbrew.com/|Pointless Brewery & Theatre] opened on Packard in Ann Arbor. The idea that had been brewing for over a decade came to fruition after Tori was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and they were asking themselves what the point of everything was.
The answer: sketch comedy and beer.
The brewery and theater offers a delightful combination of improv and craft beer made by the owner, and from my experience both were worth the ticket. The sketch comedy is provided by three different improv groups each night, including their resident group — The League of Pointless Improvisers. It is definitely more of a bar in a theater than a theater in a bar, as the long-form improv performances are the focus. The small space may have a small stage and a small bar but it has a giant heart – which creates a welcoming and relaxed environment for theater-goers. Owner and brewer Jason Tomalia is quick to tell you that if you feel like grabbing a beer or one of their made-in-Michigan snacks in the middle of the show, go right ahead.
Amanda Schott is a Library Technician at AADL and sometimes snorts when she laughs at improv comedy.
[http://www.pointlessimprov.com/#!improv-shows/q3f7k|Improv Shows] are Fridays at 8 pm, and Saturdays at 8 pm and 10:30 pm. For the kids there’s [http://www.pointlessimprov.com/#!little-peeps/yc34j|Little Peeps] every Saturday morning at 10:30 am. It is part performance, part drama activities, and part crafts. And Sundays at 7 pm is [http://www.pointlessimprov.com/#!open-stage/j6egt|open stage night] where you can sign up to show off your own talents such as music, improv, poetry, etc. The theater also offers [http://www.pointlessimprov.com/#!classes/hw0lr|improv classes] on site.
It's that time of year when it seems like there's a cool craft fair to attend every weekend. It’s especially going to seem that way during the weekend of December 12-13, when no fewer than four events will be hopping with handmade shopping in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
Saturday, December 12 marks the sixth annual [http://www.aadl.org/tinyexpo|Tiny Expo Indie Holiday Art & Craft Fair]. The fair will be held at the Downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library again this year. This is the second year that the show will be hosted at AADL, after bouncing around to different locations in its early years, and Tiny Expo is now happy to call AADL home.
The juried craft fair has grown a bit: this year it will feature 45 artists and crafters offering handmade wonders of all kinds. The event will also include a kid-friendly snow globe making workshop, a letterpress demo, and AADL’s new Secret Lab will be open and unveiling secrets.
Just down the road in Ypsilanti, the [http://www.diypsi.com|DIYpsi Holiday Market] will take place on December 12-13 at the Riverside Arts Center. DIYpsi will feature 80 artists, and in addition will offer artisan food and beverages for sale. This is also the 6th year for the DIYpsi Holiday Market, which came into being after Ypsilanti’s Shadow Art Fair decided to no longer host a holiday fair.
A group of artists in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti independently desired to fill the gap and offer an opportunity for artists to sell their work and for shoppers to buy local and handmade. From this came Tiny Expo and DIYpsi and a MEGA craft fair weekend! Many shoppers make a weekend of it and hit up both fairs to browse an assortment of unique, quality handmade goods and have a good time.
To make the weekend even merrier, there are a few more events happening in Ypsilanti both Saturday and Sunday, just a hop, skip, and a jump from DIYpsi. [https://www.facebook.com/events/1017950374953928/|Wares on Washington] is in pop-up store format and is a community fundraiser for [http://www.826michigan.org|826Michigan].
There is also Ypsi Alloy Studios, hosting their first annual [https://www.facebook.com/events/1017842414934702/|Open Studio & Holiday Market]. Visitors can check out the studio space where visual artists can make, create, and collaborate. The market will feature fine art and handmade gifts by a small group of artists, as well as a cash bar and a gift wrapping station.
More and more indie craft fairs pop up across Michigan each year, giving shoppers opportunities to shop local and buy handmade. It’s a great way to support local artists, keep the cash in our local economy, and have a unique, fun shopping experience outside the big box stores. And let’s face it, craft fairs usually have a better soundtrack and tastier drinks.
So if you’re looking for the coziest scarf ever, soap that smells like raspberry s’mores, a uterus-shaped brooch, a necklace made from graffiti found in Ann Arbor and Detroit, a piece of art to frame, or your new favorite ceramic mug, these creativity-filled craft fairs have you covered.
Amanda Schott is a Library Technician at AADL and readily admits to her craft fair addiction.
[http://www.tinyexpo.com|Tiny Expo] takes place at the Downtown Ann Arbor District Library Saturday, December 12 from 11 am-5:30 pm. Free admission.
[http://www.diypsi.com|DIYpsi] takes place at the Riverside Arts Center Saturday December 12 from 11 am-7 pm and Sunday, December 13 from Noon-6 pm. Admission is $1.
[https://www.facebook.com/events/1017950374953928/|Wares on Washington] takes place at Chin-Azzaro Studio Saturday December 12 from 10 am-6 pm and Sunday, December 13 from 11 am-4 pm. Free admission.
[https://www.facebook.com/events/1017842414934702/|Ypsi Alloy Studios Open Studio & Holiday Market] takes place at Ypsi Alloy Studios Saturday December 12 and Sunday December 13 from Noon-6 pm both days. Free admission.
Crowds flocked to a vacant house on Dequindre St. in Hamtramck this weekend, all seeking an experience more likely to be found in a botanical garden or conservatory. The house, named simply [http://www.theflower.house/|Flower House], was created by Lisa Waud of Ann Arbor and Detroit-based [http://potandbox.com/|Pot & Box], and features an amazing large-scale floral installation created using American-grown fresh flowers and living plants.
Waud and a team of floral designers from Michigan and throughout the country came together to create stunning floral installations throughout every room of a vacant and dilapidated house, sometimes extending from ceiling to floor or wall to wall.
During the three-day sold-out event, over 2,000 attendees each had 20 minutes to make their way through all 17 rooms in the house and revel in the experience. Walking through the dreamscape and floating from room to room was completely enchanting, and absorbing your surroundings was a delightful challenge. Your eyes roamed around in sensory overload trying to take in each room as a whole while also trying to notice all of the beautiful details tucked into every nook and cranny.
The bedroom housed a bed made of moss and branches, the bathrooms featured the prettiest, sweetest-smelling toilets you’ve ever seen, and the colorful old kitchen cupboards were adorned with greens amid the plates and silverware. Tulips dripped from the ceiling alongside peeling paint, interwoven marigolds created a playful shower curtain, and vegetables cascaded gracefully over crumbling walls. To complete the scene, the house was enveloped in the crisp smell of thousands of flowers on a chilly fall day while the admiring gasps of awestruck onlookers created a chorus to accompany the dreamy beauty of Flower House.
With the installation now ended, the house and its neighboring vacant house will be deconstructed and the materials will be repurposed. The land will then be turned into a flower farm and design space, in a continuation of Flower House's success in growing fresh beauty from a tired landscape.
Amanda Schott is a Library Technician at the Ann Arbor District Library.