Etsy’s tight knit community shares its craft with Queen’s

My experience as a tool at a craft fair

Types of handmade crafts and objects available on Etsy.ca.  
Credit: 
Giulia Bertelli via Unsplash

On Saturday, Etsy vendors transformed a normally hollow Grant Hall into a cozy, eclectic marketplace.

There was no shortage of pastel, wool or wood aesthetic to be found among the artisan products presented by people from all over Kingston. Craft bracelets made from stone, knitted goods, glassware; every sort of trinket or knickknack you didn’t know you wanted was there for sale.

This vintage handmade look is a trademark of Etsy.com, an e-commerce site where craft makers sell their goods.

The pop-up market was organized by the Canadian division of Etsy to bring online Etsy stores to an actual venue. For its third annual event, Etsy sellers brought their online stores to marketplaces in 34 Canadian cities, all on one day.

At Grant Hall, different sellers organized by Kingston’s local Etsy team, Fat Goose Craft Collective, came out to display their crafts.

When I arrived, I did a quick lap of the layout to see if anything notable stood out. Rookie mistake  —  ­an Etsy pop-up market can be a sensory overload if you’re not careful.

I looked right — there’s a table covered entirely with knitted baby-sized footwear. Tiny wool shoes that came in every colour imaginable were all squished to fit on the table’s surface. My feet are too big for those, I thought. I looked left — I see the most quilts I’ve ever seen in one place. Each pattern on a quilt tile was louder than the next, decorated with outrageous and clashing colours.

I initially tried to avoid eye contact with the sellers so I wouldn’t feel guilty about not wanting to buy anything. Only on my second lap did I notice a beautiful stand of decorative canoe paddles that stood out amongst all the booths vying for attention.

I walked over and met Veronica Llyod, who creates the products as part of her business, Sable Dog. Lloyd was kind and coy about her creations and was patient walking me through her craft.

She buys locally-sourced paddles, she explained to me, and uses acrylic paint and polyurethane stain to create one-of-a-kind designs. They could be used for actual canoeing as well as décor purposes.

The paddles were stout and shiny, with a matte finish on the patterns of colours Lloyd added. The corner they stood in immediately gave that part of Grant Hall a woodsy cabin-feel.

Lloyd joked to me that the one time she tried to carve her own paddle, it looked like a baseball bat. I told her my craftsmanship doesn’t go beyond making a stick figure, so not to feel bad about herself.

I continued to make my way through the fair and stopped at the Hook & Knot Studios booth, a display of thick, chunky, pastel-coloured wool hats and scarves that reminded me of how cozy autumn could be. These hats looked like they could fit about any sized head. Chelsea Sheldrick-Luciani — Hook & Knot Studios’ creator — runs the Etsy store as a side job of being a speech therapist.

I asked her how Hook & Knot Studios came to be and Sheldrick-Luciani told me that knitting was something she has always done and figured she could sell the extras of what she made.

I sheepishly asked Sheldrick-Luciani if she accepted credit card, only to be taken aback when she said it wouldn’t be a problem. Sheldrick-Luciani showed me her Square Reader – a white card reader that plugs into a phone’s headphone jack. I was struck by another example of the modern craftsman’s marketplace evolving with the times.

While I didn’t buy anything at the fair that day, it was one of those moments when I encountered a community that exists beyond the Queen’s bubble in Kingston.

Despite not having any marketable craft-making skills (and bracelet making from summer camp doesn’t count), Etsy connected me, a student in the mainstream, to people and products spilling out of their niche. 

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