Cut The Craft

Everything You Wanted to Know About the 2011 Crafty Jury

While the 2011 Craft Bastards vendors have not yet been announced, we wanted to give our readers an inside glimpse into this year's Crafty Jury, which met July 9th and 10th, to deliberate over the more than 500 vendor applications that were submitted to the City Paper. Over the course of 2 full days, the 6-person Crafty Jury rated each application based on vendor statements  and the 5 photos that each vendor-hopeful submitted.

The jury process has been in place since the very first Crafty Bastards fair. While there is a new mix of jurors each year, the process has stayed relatively the same over the last 8 years. The Crafty Jury meets for two full days, with members rating each individual applicant through a unique system that keeps the vendor selection process fair for all.

We’re excited to share our Jury process with you, and have asked our Jury members to share their thoughts about the applications they mulled through this year.

This year’s esteemed Crafty Jury was comprised of a mix of both crafters and artists who all brought their different artistic know-how and crafty sensibilities to the group.  Street artist Kelly Towles brought his eye for design and non-conventional art. You can seen some of his creative talents put forth in this super cool video.  Colorado crafter Liz Eckstein, who is our only Skyped-in member of the Jury (as well as a founding Director of Crafty Bastards and Hello Craft Board Member), came armed with a vast knowledge of pottery techniques and sewing.  Hello Craft Directors Christine Ernest, Sara Dick, Kelly Rand and myself, Kimberly Dorn, rounded out the rest of the Jury crew.

Here, we present some thoughts from all of the Jury members from the weekend, along with lovely, crafter Haikus created by Christine Ernest. At the end, you'll find all the information you ever wanted to know about the technical side of the Crafty Jury process.

Kelly Towles:

Genius with (for sure)
the largest collection of
spray paint in D.C.

What were your favorite crafting trends (type of crafts, art trends, techniques, etc) you saw from the applications? I would say that my favorite was seeing the skill of some of the crafters- a lot of the time you think things just come together, then you find out how much time, effort and love goes into each piece. rad.

What type of crafts make your heart skip a beat and what types of crafts were you looking for in the jury. The crafts that I feel in love with were alot of the innovative clean products, that had not just a great product, but also the beautiful package. all comes together. That was really what I look for, a complete package. You could have a beautiful gem, but without the proper attire, it just looks naked.

If there was any type of craft that you'd like to see more of in the applications for next year, what would it be? I wish there were more artists. This is one of the best places for an artist to show case their work to a whole mess of people.

As a first-time Jury member, describe what your first Jury experience was like? Was it what you expected? Has it changed or modified your views, in any way, on the handmade community in general? I have to say I had a lot of fun being one of the jury, if only the other jurors would just let me do what I want. I mean really. Throwing a stapler at someone's face because their opinion was wrong is not a bad thing, just sayin. get over it. cry baby. Besides that and all the wrong people in the room not being right like I am, it was a blast.
Changed my view... I was just glad to give an opinion ( and a better one than some others in the room- you know who I mean).

_______

Liz Eckstein:

Genius witVirtual juror.
Maker of amazing sets
of lovely pillows.

What were your favorite crafting trends (type of crafts, art trends, techniques, etc) you saw from the applications? As someone who works in conservation, I'm always happy to see more and more recycled materials in people's crafts. Not only is recycling worthwhile for itself, it's such an affordable option for crafters. Also, I was impressed by seeing more cohesive branding in people's crafts, more people had a broader array of items and developed packaging that really expressed their style.

What type of crafts make your heart skip a beat and what types of crafts were you looking for in the jury. Three things. 1. I am a pillow maker and love to see people get creative with pillows! 2. I like functional art, whether it's pottery or household items. 3. Having been on the Crafty jury 7 of the past 8 years, I've seen a lot of craft and what really impresses me is a technique that I've never seen before especially something that has elements of both style and function.

If there was any type of craft that you'd like to see more of in the applications for next year, what would it be? Again, I'd say more functional art. I love to wear or use handmade objects every day.

_______

Christine Ernest:

First time juror and
hoarder of typewriters. She
wants to craft with you.

What were your favorite crafting trends (type of crafts, art trends, techniques, etc) you saw from the applications? I noticed a few applicants using recycled leather in a smart way for accessories like purses and wallets which I enjoyed immensely. I'm also a sucker for anything with a dinosaur on it (especially a Diplodocus), bulky skeins of brightly colored yarn and fun woodblocks I can hang on my wall.

What type of crafts make your heart skip a beat and what types of crafts were you looking for in the jury. It's more so seeing someone introduce new items to their product line that I love, than any one particular craft that really gets me excited. I love it when there is one person I've purchased from at a previous Crafty Bastards or stalked online and then I'm totally blown away by the new items they present.

If there was any type of craft that you'd like to see more of in the applications for next year, what would it be? I'd love to see more handcrafted wood work in the home accessories category. Personally I'm drawn to more of a rustic vibe and since I just moved to a new apartment I'm on the hunt for new pieces to furnish my place.

As a first-time Jury member, describe what your first Jury experience was like? Was it what you expected? Has it changed or modified your views, in any way, on the handmade community in general? In the past I've done the data entry and helped tally up all the scores so I knew the process of seeing so many applicants can be overwhelming. Since this year had a record number of applicants I knew it would be a lot to judge in just two days. The process was pretty much what I expected. Yet after scrutinizing things like craftmanship and the alternative vision I'm pretty sure I'll never look at handmade items in the same way  — at least not without silently giving them a score!

One thing I noticed is that makers still need to focus on presentation when it comes to applying to a competitive show like Crafty Bastards. Photos and artist statement need to be clear and concise and fun. I will say when I came across an application that had really professional looking photos and an awesome artist statement (i.e. witty and to the point), I definitely wanted to know more right away and most likely added them to my personal Crafty shopping list I've already started to put together for this year.

_______

Kelly Rand:

Writer, editor,
her most favorite entries
contain unicorns.

What were your favorite crafting trends (type of crafts, art trends, techniques, etc) you saw from the applications? The influx of one horned animals was a pleasant surprise.

What type of crafts make your heart skip a beat and what types of crafts were you looking for in the jury. When someone takes something hugely traditional and flips it on it's head. I really wanted to see that in this year's jury.

If there was any type of craft that you'd like to see more of in the applications for next year, what would it be? On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'd love to see more functional objects. But not boring functional objects.

How did this crop of applications compare to the ones in years' past? Did all the work shown give you a sense of the direction that the handmade community is heading in? I think this year's applications over all were better then year's past. And the work this year is showing that many people are growing and adapting within their businesses, but many still have a long way to go.

_______

Sara Dick:

A Crafty founder,
bumpy soft yarn wins her heart
when it comes to skeins.

What were your favorite crafting trends (type of crafts, art trends, techniques, etc) you saw from the applications? Growing number of applicants expanding beyond decorative products and offering functional housewares. I also enjoy the increasing number of crafters that offer craft supplies and beginner DIY kits.

What type of crafts make your heart skip a beat and what types of crafts were you looking for in the jury. Not really a type of craft–more types applications. I've been on the jury since the beginning, so I get excited by things I haven't seen before— that can be new artists, evolved craftmanship, expanded product lines, or even noticeable improvement from year to year.  Applications that present cohesive product lines, consistent branding and tell a story provide context and tend to stand out.

I love seeing the wide variety of decorative items like illustrations, plush and jewelry, but am most excited by products that offer some utility, like garden planters, kitchen tools, bike accessories and travel gear.

If there was any type of craft that you'd like to see more of in the applications for next year, what would it be?
More clothing beyond screenprinted shirts: would love button downs for guys and more work appropriate tops and dresses for gals. Pants anyone?

More functional housewares. Don't think we've ever had someone that makes rugs– that would be cool.  Also, would like all the people printing tea towels to expand to other household textiles like curtains, pillowcases, table runners, etc. And remember– just because it's a tea towel doesn't mean the image needs to be kitchen related!

In general, encourage applicants to develop product lines instead of one offs that don't fit together.

How did this crop of applications compare to the ones in years' past? Did all the work shown give you a sense of the direction that the handmade community is heading in? New Recurring Themes: Unicorns, Foxes, Arrows, The South, Leather.  Continuing trends from last year: Narwhals, Betty White, Tea Towels, Sustainable Living Theme. Less frequent than previous years: Zombies, Vampires, Pirates, Steam Punk, Mustaches, Abe Lincoln, Marion Barry. Themes that will not die: Birds (especially owls, sparrows and peacocks), Cephlapods (mainly squid & octopi), Robots, Cupcakes and Whimsy.

_______

Kimberly Dorn:

Crafty mastermind.
Without her expertise, there
would not be a fair.

What were your favorite crafting trends (type of crafts, art trends, techniques, etc) you saw from the applications? I enjoyed seeing folks making custom stamps out of their art. Stamps are a fantastic craft tool that can be used by adults as well as kids, and have many different purposes. I also liked seeing more people getting into the kitchen arts with aprons, tea towels, cutting boards, coasters, etc. Even though I can barely cook toast, I do like surrounding myself with cool kitchen gear.

What type of crafts make your heart skip a beat and what types of crafts were you looking for in the jury. I'm totally into crafts that serve a function, as well as being aesthetically neat-o and kinda weird. I was looking for well-made items that could stand some wear and tear. I'm also love with  vintage-inspired, reproduction clothing.... sadly, I didn't really see any of that.

If there was any type of craft that you'd like to see more of in the applications for next year, what would it be? I wish there were more applicants making clothing by hand, especially for dudes. We saw a whole bunch of screenprinted shirts come through, but I'd love to see handmade button-down shirts or even pants. Where are the pants? And handsewn bathing suits too. After seeing all the cool suits on Etsy, it would be great to have a vendor or two that brings them to the fair so shoppers can check them out in real life.

How did this crop of applications compare to the ones in years' past? Did all the work shown give you a sense of the direction that the handmade community is heading in? We saw a lot of new crafters apply this year, some of whom we've never seen before, which is pretty exciting. We're always interested in keeping the fair fresh for shoppers, so new vendors who make the Jury cut make us happy. We also saw familiar vendors producing new lines and creative ideas which is great as well.  Alas, we saw that some folks are only following the usual trends, and aren't pushing their own creative boundaries. As the handmade community keeps getting bigger and bigger, I would love to see more crafters taking risks with their work, and start going outside of the typical crafting trends.

The Crafty Jury Explained
How long does the Jury process take?
The Crafty Jury meets for two days, approx. 10 hours per day. How are the applications judged? Each application is reviewed one by one, with special attention paid to the 3 photos and vendor statement. From there, each juror rates the applicant on 9 craftigories; the first 8 craftigories receive a score of 1-10. The last craftigory is an Overall score, which is worth 20 points. So the best possible score for an applicant would be 100 craftaculous points! The lowest is 10. All of the applicants’ ratings are then compiled and each applicant is given a total score based on the average score from all 6 jurors. At the end of the jury process, those applicants with a score of 75 or higher are automatically accepted into the fair. We then take a look at the categories of craft that we might be missing, and try to fill in the gaps from there. For example, if there are 5 spaces left in the fair, and we have not accepted any ceramic artists, we will take a look at the highest rated potter applicant and may decide to accept them into the fair. This process allows for an excellent shopping experience for our attendees, and a profitable day for our vendors.

What are the Craftigories?
1.) Craftsmanship/Skill How well-made are the crafts? We keep in mind some things are meant to look rough or undone. 2.) Inventive use of materials? Does the crafter use pre-manufactured materials or do they make their stuff from scratch? 3.) Labor/Time Investment Does it look like there was time invested in the concept/design/product? 4.) Physical Design – How much thought was put into the aesthetics/function of the work? 5.) Alternative Subject Matter/Vision? 6.) Rarity/Singularity – How unique are the products? 7.) Excitability – Would we buy this or recommend it to someone? 8.) Appeal – Does this vendor appeal to a large group of shoppers, or would their products only appeal to a very niche group? 9.) Overall (worth 20 points)

Why do you use this rating system?
This rating system provides an equal opportunity for all crafters to have a chance to vend at the fair. Where some applicants might get a high score in the uniqueness of their work, others may get a higher score in how well their products are made.

Is there a wait list?
Yes. We usually pick a small number of applicants with scores closest to 75 to be on our Pending List. Those on the Pending List will be notified of any booth space that may open up for various reasons.

All Crafty applicants will be notified of their vendor status by July 25th.
Questions? Email craftybastards [at] washingtoncitypaper.com.

Stay tuned for more festival information about our new(!) Young & Crafty kids section, Urban Farming Area and more!

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