It seems like every weekend at this time of the year there are craft shows going on. Locally, besides the ones that have recently been held, like the very popular Lansing Fall Festival, there is the Leavenworth Craft Show Nov. 4 at the Riverfront Community Center gymnasium. There are also two Basehor craft shows on that weekend – one at the high school and one at the Catholic church.
I enjoy going to them if for no other reason than to get inspired. You can see some really interesting things at many of the shows. The community fundraisers usually also have quite an assortment of cakes, cookies and other foods.
For me, the really big show is the annual Creative Hand Show Nov. 18-19 on Johnson Drive at Old Shawnee Town. This is a juried show that only accepts fiber-related items such as painted silk scarves, hand-woven shawls, hand-made blouses, jackets and hats. Everything is hand-made by the artists represented at the show.
The show is hosted by both the Kansas City Weavers’ Guild and the KC Fiber Guild. It has grown to where we regularly have about 65-70 artists at the show. The show is popular enough that it attracts artists from as far away as St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri.
One reason for its popularity is, of course, the fact that you are going to find well-made items at a reasonable cost. There is a small entry fee for each artist, but the commission for sales is only 18 percent, which means that we can keep the prices relatively low compared to selling in a gallery where the commission usually runs more like 40 percent. The Kansas Sampler, for example, charges a 40 percent commission.
Creative Hand is not limited to the fiber arts. You will also find plenty of accessory items like jewelry, pottery and some wood items like jewelry boxes, shawl pins and drop spindles for spinning yarn. The rules and the jurying committee do everything they can to ensure that all items, including jewelry, pottery and boxes, are hand-made by the artists.
For those who prefer to buy the yarns to make their own items, there is a huge selection of yarns from which to choose, many of which are hand-spun, but all have been worked somehow by the artists. We cannot buy and resell any items by just repackaging.
In fact, there is usually some raw fiber at the show so you can buy that and spin your own yarns. In fact, since all of the artists are required to be present for several hours at the show, someone there can teach you how to spin using the drop spindle or a spinning wheel.
Most of the items, for example, triangle and rectangular shawls, are one-of-a-kind pieces. It is a good idea to get there early for the best selection. To my knowledge, within the 12 hours of the two-day show, there is no mark-down of anything, although I suppose that you could bargain with an artist over the price. I gave a girl a slight break one year when she bought two of my triangle shawls.
Creative Hand runs Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday late morning until 4 p.m. The parking lot is really large and although the community center is fairly spacious, it is well-packed with hundreds or even thousands of items from which to choose. If you are interested in this field, you should also consider membership in either guild. Membership in either gets you access to both.
Rain, snow or sunshine, we’ll be there and I hope to see you.
Matt Nowak is a retired natural resources specialist and lives in Lansing.