‘Tis The Season

‘Tis The Season

Handcrafted purchases worth more than a smile


Making Ripples

Craft season is at its peak, ushered in by the warm aroma of kettle corn and roasted nuts and the sight of big orange pumpkins on hay bales. Crafters usually spend the whole summer preparing for these few months. At this very moment, they are probably in their workshops carving another black bear out of a log, or sitting in their living rooms sewing another unique quilt or painting a hollowed gourd from their garden.

The season of handmade crafts corresponds to the gift-giving holiday season, a time when some of us decorate our houses to look spooky, then thankful, then wintry. There are itty-bitty shows and huge fall craft fairs happening all over Northwest Arkansas at this time, and while there are myriad options for making a difference with your purchases, attending some of these fairs is one way to do it.

Supporting local artists and crafters is important in sustaining the local economy and the broader network of people practicing traditional trades. True, you can’t trust that everything made at a craft fair will be sustainable or ethical (there are still raw materials made from sweatshops that are incorporated into new products). But you can trust that a local family is applying their creativity and talents towards making a unique gift, and that a local farmer created tasty treats right at home.

These folks could otherwise be spending their time not farming, not crafting. Instead of pumpkins, they could be producing pipelines, for example. When we support them by buying their wooden children’s toys or stuffed teddy bears, when we decorate our homes with wreaths made of pine cones and natural materials they gathered on their land, when we send holiday greetings on cards someone drew or painted, we’re enabling them all to keep their jobs. Plus, of course, we’re enriched by the beauty of their craft.

It’s a mysterious thing that humans can create such wonders. Every year there is a new marvel at the market. And it seems like every year, there are new markets! Keep your eyes on this Free Weekly for events coming up in the next couple of months, and have your ear to the ground in case you hear of a fair happening near your home. Check the newspaper and look for signs on the street for yard sales – which are somewhat a summer thing, but at this time of year, tend to be a mix of craft and resale. Reusing a product or repurposing it is a lot more eco-friendly than buying new. I’ve gotten some secondhand books and gifts over the years that were just as good as new.

Whether you go to craft fairs or make gifts at home, crafting is a great way to be a conscious consumer. It’s just another possible step on the path towards a sustainable planet.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.

Categories: Making Ripples