Barbara Streisand once sang “don’t rain on my parade.” For Torie Nguyen and Cathy Zwicker, Crafty Wonderland co-founders, more appropriate lyrics might have been “don’t rain on my craft fair.”
Know Before You Go
If you attend a Crafty Wonderland, be sure to get there early, because the first 150 people in line typically get goodie bags stuffed with locally-made swag.
Tired of getting rained out and traveling to other cities to sell their work, the two Portland jewelry artists set to work creating an indoor marketplace for their work and the work of fellow local makers. “We decided to start it before someone else did,” says Nguyen.
Crafty Wonderland Art & Craft Markets
Founded in 2006, Crafty Wonderland is now the city’s biggest arts and crafts market, drawing 225+ vendors and tens of thousands of visitors to the (nice and dry) Oregon Convention Center. The twice-yearly market returns in early December and spring (just in time for holiday shopping and Mother’s Day, respectively!).
What began as a “pure DIY” production with 40 vendors and a couple hundred shoppers, Crafty Wonderland has grown into extravaganza of creativity. “It totally blows our minds that the little show we started 13 years ago has transformed into what it is today,” says Zwicker.
Prior Crafty Wonderlands have included illustrated portraits of punk rock cats and hipster triceratopses by Ryan Berkley; pins, patches and prints of Adrienne Vita’s magical desertscapes; and elemental brass and copper metalwork studded with geodes and gemstones by Ttereve. That’s not to mention a slew of clever t-shirts, unique stationary, funky pet accessories, small-batch mustards and nut butters, craft spirits, natural soaps, terrariums and more.
Admission is free, and Nguyen and Zwicker rotate the artists at each market — so even if you’ve attended a previous Crafty Wonderland, you’ll always find something new.
“We like to think there’s something there for everyone,” says Nguyen. “Sometimes having a face to put with a piece of art or knowing you’ve met the person who made your new favorite earrings makes them that much more special.”
In today’s online shopping milieu, Crafty Wonderland is a unique chance to support and connect with local makers. And across the table, the market offers accessible booth fees so that emerging artists are equally represented. “Markets like Crafty Wonderland provide a venue where artists can make a living selling their work,” says Zwicker, who notes that many of the makers who got their start at the market have grown to full-time businesses.
Since its launch, Crafty Wonderland has grown from just a basic marketplace. “Over the years, we’ve heard so many people say that they aren’t crafty or they wish they could be more creative,” says Nguyen. That’s why the market isn’t just about shopping, inviting visitors to get crafty in a DIY zone with make-and-take craft projects hosted the founder’s favorite Portland craft supplies stores, Collage and Scrap.
Open every Saturday and Sunday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
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While you’re there, stop by the kids’ area where little entrepreneurs sell their creations, inspired by the market’s early days when Zwicker’s (now grown-up) son would sell his art. “We never know what they will come with — magnets, cards, jewelry, paintings and slime,” Zwicker says.
“It’s definitely a feast for the eyes and a big inspiration to see so much creativity in one place,” Nguyen says. “Portland is fertile ground for all creative pursuits.” She and Zwicker even joke that the rain—which provided the motivation for Crafty Wonderland in the first place—“gives everyone lots of time to practice their crafty hobbies indoors.”
Visit a Crafty Wonderland Brick and Mortar
On a recent Thursday at their Alberta shop, an Oregon flag was displayed on a wall across from a tattoo-inspired mural by Jennifer Parks of Spectral Gardens. Shoppers listened to Beyoncé spinning on vinyl while perusing wares like Michele Maule’s Pacific Northwest-themed watercolors, Aubrey Aiese’s plant holders painted with faces and Shanalee Hampton’s irreverent embroidery — plus all the locally-made treasures one could need to show their hometown pride or commemorate a trip to Portland.
“We love being able to say that our shop is completely locally made goods,” says Zwicker. So even if you can’t make it to a market event, Crafty Wonderland is “the best place for the perfect Portland souvenir.”
Upcoming Dates & Times
- May 2
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Portland Mini Maker Faire (Sept. 7–8, 2019) blends science and technology with arts and crafts in an interactive two-day event held every September at OMSI.
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