WHEN IT COMES to craft fairs... and pop-up shops... and fleas, well—Portland gets its share. One symptom of the growing marketplace for small-company vendors is the fact that they're no longer just for winter holidays. In addition to that November/December rush, summertime has become a popular time for (open-air) markets.
Those who seek out these events regularly quickly become familiarized with some of the city's frequent fliers. There's the small soap company you see here, the ubiquitous jewelry maker there, and after a while it can all seem a little repetitive. However, this weekend's Renegade Craft Fair is an excellent opportunity to check out more than 100 new-to-you small brands.
In fact the Portland edition of this year's Renegade—which also takes place in Austin, Chicago, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle—boasts about 200 names on their roster. That's including some worthy entries from our own region like Caravan Pacific and Filling Spaces, but part of the fun of Renegade is that so many of the goods on offer come from outside the bubble. There are a ton from California, plus a sprinkling from the Midwest, New York, and beyond. The overall standard of quality control is set higher than at many similar events, too, so you're virtually guaranteed to make new connections that strike a cord.
All of the usual categories are represented, but with an effective curatorial eye: ceramics, apothecary, jewelry, apparel, paper goods (including adorable party supplies like message tiaras from Bracket), small housewares, kid stuff, pet stuff, prints, décor, and more. Depending on your personality, being confronted with the array upon arrival at the scene can be overwhelming in a fun way, but if you demand order and planning in your life, you may want to scope out the Etsy pages and Tumblrs of the participating makers via the Renegade's Portland event page. I did, and came out with a huge list of favorites to look out for, some of which are pictured on this page.
I'll be scoping the handmade ceramics by North Carolina's Melissa Weiss, for instance, who digs her own clay off of land in Northwest Arkansas. Courtney Murphy's cheerfully decorated sets of cups and vases have roots nearby—she graduated in 2004 from the Oregon College of Art and Craft—but she's currently headquartered in Missoula. Meanwhile Ashware Studio's smooth, pastel cork-stop bottles and canisters are making the hike all the way out from Brooklyn—and that's just scratching the surface of the fair's ceramics category alone.
Also from New York, Noli Noli's smooth wooden figurines are great for babies, but their owl-faced wine bottle stoppers make for awesome adult gifts too, and Little Gold Fox Designs' technique of blending folk art and cut-paper techniques with wood printing makes for eye-catching local work that's flown under my radar thus far. I don't think I've seen a jewelry artist using huge stones and drama in quite the way Los Angeles' Adina Mills does, either, and I'm guessing her selection of outsized pieces will be a point of interest among the crystal-visioned neo-bohemian set.
Whatever your approach, Renegade's worth making time for. You're guaranteed to make some new discoveries. Rejuvenation, 1100 SE Grand, Sat July 25 & Sun July 26, 11 am-6 pm