Crafts of another feather

This year’s Fat Goose Craft Fair is getting a new time slot and venue but promises the familiar range of locally made arts, crafts and services

When I heard rumours of a potential prerelease of local arts collective Apple Crisp’s vinyl compilation, I immediately began trolling the Internet for clues as to where I might locate the highly anticipated treasure.

I was expressly enthused upon discovering the rumour came attached to a branch of Apple Crisp—next Sunday night’s annual Fat Goose Craft Fair offering a range of locally made crafts and craft services to the community.

“Apple Crisp started out as a music series,” one of Fat Goose’s organizers Lucas Huang told me over the phone. “It eventually became a record label and then a zine and a whole bunch of other things, but one of the things it expanded into was the craft fair.”

Last year, Huang contributed his screen print work to the fair as both crafter and volunteer by selling his originally designed images printed onto secondhand clothing. He said the transition between artist and organizer was organic.

“All of the organizers are going to be [featured as] artists as well,” he said. “Last year it was basically run by Annie [Clifford] and Vince [Perez], this year they grabbed me and Meredith [Powell] and just told us that they didn’t want to run it all on their own again. The workload is split four ways and it’s made it very easy.”

With last year’s successful Fat Goose was held in a church auditorium with a typical mid-morning to late-afternoon-evening format, this year’s fair organizers decided to give it a bit of a makeover.

“It’s happening at night,” Huang said. “This year we’re starting it at 6 p.m. and running it till 11 p.m. The atmosphere will be a bit different … this year we rented out the Renaissance event venue so it’s going to have a different feel … maybe more of a party kind of atmosphere than last year.”

With a database of artists at Apple Crisp’s fingertips, the organizers reached out via email to acquire the selection of crafters featured at this year’s fair with the added encouragement for them to pass the message along to whoever might be of interest.

“Kingston is a small enough community that it reached a lot of people,” Huang said.

One extension of the application deadline and a slew of word-of-mouth promotion later, the array of featured artists were accumulated.

“We decided based on a number of factors,” Huang said. “First of all, the quality of the work based on the images the artist sent in and then after that it was a matter of trying to have a diverse selection of crafts.”

With cities like Kingston often all too quickly misperceived as void of rich artistic activity, Huang said the vast number of applicants to the Fair proves the opposite to be true.

“This year we had a lot of potters apply and they were all really, really good and we had to turn down some of them because we didn’t want to have half our artists be potters,” Huang said. “That was really too bad. I think what we ended up with was really high quality and a really wide range of arts and crafts.”

An important keeper and communicator of art scene knowledge in Kingston, the Fair’s role in the community goes beyond the simple offer of a unique selection of potential stocking-stuffers for those on your holiday list. Huang told me about Made 4 You, a supply and craft store whose mandate (when open) was to showcase the work of local artists and crafters as well as providing a place to show off their work.

“They recently re-opened, they had a little booth in the sustainability centre, but it’s not nearly as big as it used to be,” he said. “I think without a proper dedicated store to showcase local arts and crafts a lot of people don’t know the kind of talent that’s sitting around this town, basically in their backyard. This craft show along with others … show[s] people what their neighbours are up to.”

The neighbours in question this year include Amy Johnson of AmyJ Designs and Chrissy Poitras and Nelly Casson of Spark Box Studios.

“There’s jewelry, pottery, clothing … this one guy [Ian Murray] has a sheep farm on Wolfe Island and he’s going to bring some of his art,” Huang said. “A lady who was there last year [Nicole Armour], I’m really excited about her work. She does hand bound hardcover books, it’s really neat.”

As for that rumoured vinyl prerelease, Huang is keeping us guessing.

“There’s going to be some surprises.”

The Fat Goose Craft Fair takes place next Sunday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Renaissance Events Centre at 285 Queen St.

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