Make your way to one of these inspiring craft fairs, where you can indulge your senses and get to know LA's—and the country's—most creative craftspeople. Shop around and find a great gift, some artwork for your living room, or simply meet some like-minded crafty types. You never know what sort of treasures you’ll find, but it’s safe to assume you’ll walk away with an item that’s one-of-a-kind—the goods at these fairs are unique, handmade and easy to cherish.
SF’s best craft fairs
West Coast Craft Fair takes place twice yearly—once in the summer and once just before the holidays—at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The shows bring together over 15,000 chic attendees and 175 vendors, and focuses on cultivating artists with a West Coast mentality who make a range of goods from clothing to plant sculptures. It has a decidedly hip vibe, as if your eclectic friend with the gorgeously decorated Mission apartment curated all the vendors. Goods like wooden spoons, digestive bitters and dip-dyed textiles range in price, while local food sellers like Rice Paper Scissors get in on the fun—and there are even drinks; last year, the Bon Vivants were shaking up cocktails.
Renegade Craft Fair is a roving market that comes to the city by the Bay twice a year, in July and November. Founded in 2003 as the first underground DIY craft fair, the Renegade Craft show features indie makers and items like natural beauty products, repurposed furniture, affordable art, gemstone jewelry and leather goods; it’s a seriously eclectic mix of treasures. Local artisanal food and drink vendors —Four Barrel Coffee, Shades of Sugar Bakeshop, and Oaktown Jerk to name a few—and special features like DJs and themed photo booths make the fair a distinctive and memorable experience.
The third annual SF Indie Holiday Emporium will take place just after Thanksgiving, showcasing over 180 local Etsy artisans. The free event boasts crafts, music and snacks from small batch food vendors. Like its namesake online marketplace, you can find just about anything here: fashionable apparel, adorable cards, wood cutting boards, make-your-own bitters kits, fragrant soaps and gypsy necklaces are just a few of the items you may discover. As it’s a holiday fair, expect to pick up great gifts and fun stocking stuffers.
Remodelista Market is a yearly event hosted by the online magazine of the same name (featuring interior design and home content) and its sister site, Gardenista (devoted to, you guessed it, gardening). The market is free and features over 40 vendors selling ecological textiles, watercolor prints, wooden vessels and healing skincare products, to name a few. Fair-goers can sign up for 45-minute workshops and string ornaments, for example, or learn the Japanese bonsai tradition of kokedama. Mobile pizza makers Del Popolo will be selling pies and Thistle will pouring fresh, cold-pressed juice.
KPFA, a progressive music and talk radio station based in Berkeley, California, hosts a Winter Crafts Fair each year. (Earlier this summer, the station also staged its first summer show.) Two hundred exhibitors gather at the event to peruse innovative furniture, contemporary paper goods, affordable fine jewelry and luminous glasswork. The Rosie the Riveter Museum and Assemble Restaurant are nearby, so attendees can check out the museum and grab some food before or after the fair.
This SF bazaar hosts five main shows per year, including the J-Pop Summit (a Japanese pop culture festival) and the Urban Epicurean Festival, a modern marketplace that features artisanal food and culinary workshops. Their most popular fair, however, is the yearly Maker Faire in San Mateo. The DIY-focused fair celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015, and is so much more than your regular craft fair. It’s an interactive experience in which you can learn how to knit, watch 3D-printed robots being made, shoot an arrow and play in a life-sized mousetrap. Dubbed “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth,” the family-friendly extravaganza feels like a science fair hosted by a collection of crazy inventors; some say it’s like a child-appropriate Burning Man. Over 215,000 people attend each year, and tickets range from $15-45.
Glass, furniture, jewelry, metal, wood, fiber, and ceramics are some of the mediums one can find at the American Craft Council Show, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015. Over 230 crafters gather at the largest juried show (one in which all vendors must submit a portfolio then judged by a selection committee) west of the Rockies. Only the most original, marketable and creative vendors are accepted to the American Craft Council. The summertime fair is three days long, and tickets are $14-30 and include the opportunity to attend and participate in special themed showcases.