This weekend, The Patchwork Indie Arts & Craft Festival will have its final show of the season at Helms Bakery in Culver City. If last month’s show in the Santa Ana area is any indication of what visitors can expect, the event will be packed with over 100 artists, including crafters, musicians, and chefs from all over Southern California coming to share handmade works of art with the Los Angeles County crafting community.
As they entered the craft fest in the old town district of 2nd Street and North Sycamore in downtown Santa Ana, guests were greeted with the sight of a small array of booths, gourmet food trucks and indie music. Guitar straps made of old vinyl car parts, colorful organic soaps made of plants and milks, to pink and purple crochet headphones, Patchwork brought attendees face-to-face with unique products that would normally only ever be seen on websites like Etsy, and the people who make them.
And artists were eager to share their products’ stories with like-minded crafty passersby.
“The ‘slide-up’ is our version of the wallet which is made from pages of a book,” said Raymond Delarmente of Manda Landa, as he pulled on a small tab that makes the wallet’s contents conveniently pop-up. His booth was filled with skulls and surrounded by a pink curtain, heaped with icons both morbid and cute, just like his repurposed book products. Raymond said that his sister, Amanda Delarmente, came up with the idea of making accessories from book covers and pages after seeing a poorly made book purse and deciding that she could create a much better version.
Although it was crowded with the expected booth displays and product tents, Patchwork artists and browsers alike seemed more interested in the origin stories and inspiration behind their wares. And while some artists, like Manda Landa, were about the improvement of established crafting philosophies like the recycling of old products, others shared a different kind of inspiration.
“Those big retro headphones gave us the inspiration to mend technology with fiber art,” said Patrick Medeiros-Bagan of Late To the Revolution, a crochet craft business, as he held up a pair of headphones that had been crocheted beyond recognition to look like cat ears. The entire booth was filled with flashy crochet pieces, but the headphones were the standout (and best seller).
In some cases the craft was not in the product, but in the artists’ vision for it that drove the discussion.
“We’re a clothing brand a lot like the others that you will see, like Hurley or Nike," said Taylor Carroll, co-founder of clothing company Collaborative World. "But we give half of our profits at the end of every season to local nonprofits and charities.”
The Collaborative World booth is filled a variety of T-shirts and bags printed with minimal graphic designs with simple statements like “Give 50/50.” Collaborative World uses their donation goal as the story that sets them apart from other artists when visuals alone are not enough to make them stand out.
Co-founder of Patchwork Nicole Stevenson said she and her aunt, Delilah Snell, created Patchwork by melding the visions of two artists on different creative paths, but with the same goal of connecting and inspiring a community of crafters of handmade works of art.
“Patchwork started with my knowledge of the craft fair circuit and [Delilah] brought in her strong belief of making the place where you live cool, instead of going out to find the cool place,” said Stevenson.
The Patchwork Arts Indie Arts & Craft Festival started from just a 25 vendors in one parking lot. It now holds six shows a year in three major cities with over 120 vendors at each.
Interested in showing off your craft work? Patchwork's looking for new vendors for their next set of festivals that will take place at the end of November. Check their website!