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9th annual Craftin’ Outlaws fair to bring alternative, handmade crafts to Columbus

Courtesy of Jessica Miller Photography

From handmade soap grenades to jewelry made from vintage metal trinkets, the Craftin’ Outlaws alternative craft fair features items and handmade goods that are just that – alternative.  

“It’s all very kind of eclectic items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else and this is an opportunity to come in and buy them directly from all of the vendors,” said Megan Green, organizer of the fair. 

Craftin’ Outlaws is in its ninth year, and its first spring fair is scheduled for Saturday at Veterans Memorial from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Since 2005, local crafters have been selling their homemade goods at the Craftin’ Outlaws fair. While the fair has only had one show per year around the winter holiday season, a second spring show was added to the schedule for 2013. The holiday show draws in about 3,000 to 4,000 guests in one day, Green said, and she thinks the spring show will also be a big success.

“There was not another show of this caliber during the springtime, so it just felt like the right time to do it, and it’s just a nice way of carrying our brand,” Green said. “It’s just another opportunity for handmade people to get their goods out there.”

Olivera Bratich, owner of craft store Wholly Craft in Clintonville, has been a vendor at the fair since its first year in 2005 and sells jewelry items that she makes as well as items from her store.

“At the show, we sell work from artists who can’t be there themselves, whether it’s because they don’t live locally or they just can’t attend the show that day,” Bratich said. “We sort of represent the people who can’t be there on their own.”

Wholly Craft is also a sponsor of the craft fair, and Bratich said her store is happy to support it.

“It’s supporting people who are making a living from their creativity,” Bratich said. “It’s a different way of looking at the world. It’s meaningful in the sense that it came from somebody’s heart and hands.”

Green said the founder of the fair, Liz Rosino, started Craftin’ Outlaws because there wasn’t anywhere in Columbus that sold these “alternative” crafts. Even though the term “alternative” has become a common way to describe Craftin’ Outlaws, Green said the term might be outdated.

“With the growth of Etsy (an online marketplace for handmade items), handmade goods of that nature seem to be much more accepted,” Green said. “I think we’re a little more mainstream now. I think we’ve kind of grown up and people have grown up with us.”

While about 150 vendors applied to sell their crafts at the spring show, only 75 were chosen, Green said. Many factors go into choosing the vendors including diversity, quality of pictures provided and the price of their crafts.

“We might get 50 jewelry applications out of 150, so trying to narrow it down to maybe five to 10 jewelry makers that each offer something unique, but slightly different from one another, is overwhelming,” Green said. “You’re looking for people who do it and do it very well and who offer a unique identity or brand.”

Green said the show has grown in size over the years, which prompted the move from its former location at the Gateway Film Center to Franklin County Veterans Memorial. The first show in 2005 had about 50 vendors while this year’s spring show has 75, and Green said the location move has helped more people find out about the show. 

“Going to a place like Veterans Memorial has kind of solidified us in the community,” Green said. “It kind of puts us at a higher caliber. It puts us in the eyes of people who may not have heard of us before.”

The fair also supports a local charity, Project: Zero Ohio, which is a nonprofit organization that gives assistance to individuals living with HIV in Ohio. Green said the fair has donated to Project: Zero Ohio for the past two years, but organizers hope to pick a new charity every show in the future.

“There are so many great nonprofits that could use that assistance and aid,” Green said. “It’s a great way to cross promote and spread word of mouth about other charities that people may not know about.”

Local artist Maxe Smith will be selling her handmade toys, prints and bookmarks for her fourth year at Craftin’ Outlaws. Smith has been making her hand-sculpted clay toys since 2008. The toys are in the shapes of different creatures, which Smith calls “Creevils.”

“They’ve evolved a little bit,” Smith said. “They started out a little creepy but they’ve got a little more quirky and cute. Originally they had less detail and now they are becoming more realistic.”

Smith said she enjoys selling at Craftin’ Outlaws due to the uniqueness of the items sold at the show.

“Since it’s an alternative craft fair, I feel like my stuff really fits in and it’s well appreciated by the people who attend,” Smith said. “I think Columbus is a great hub for art. It brings a lot of interesting people.”

The Veterans Memorial is located at 300 W. Broad St. Admission is free, and the first 100 guests will receive a screen-printed tote bag and a limited edition letterpress Craftin’ Outlaws poster.

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