When you think “unique gift,” chances are you’re not picturing a “Made in China” sticker. For most of us, unique is more along the lines of hand-crafted, lovingly made and creative.
Those words also describe exactly what dozens of local artists and crafters are producing year-round right here in Boulder County. And in the coming weeks, two special events are helping connect these local talents with holiday shoppers in search of something truly distinctive for that special someone.
The first events is the Boulder County Farmers’ Markets’ annual Holiday Farmers’ Market and Gift Show, taking place Dec. 4 and 5 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. Now in its fifth year, this holiday show has proved so popular that for the first time ever it has been extended from one day to two.
“Every year it’s gotten bigger and bigger,” says Shanon Olsen, a member of the BCFM board of directors.
Food and produce vendors will include a number of market regulars, and the 40 artists and crafters were selected by a jury from more than 100 applicants. And because this event takes place indoors, you don’t have to worry about a sudden snow shower putting a damper on your shopping spree.
The second big event is a first time offering from Firefly Handmade, an artists’ collective based out of Lyons and supporting artists throughout Boulder County. The Firefly Handmade 2010 Holiday Market will be held Dec. 10-12 at 1904 Pearl St. in Boulder and will feature sandwiches and snacks from The Dish, kids’ activities sponsored by Clementine Studios and “eco” gift wrapping from Lysiwraps. And if all that isn’t enough to entice you, it will be a zero-waste event as well.
Because the three Firefly founders are artists themselves, they understand the hurdles that independent artists and crafters face in getting their work sold.
“It’s hard for people who are making things to make money,” says co-founder Kristin FitzGerrell, who also owns Studio 22. Even in Boulder, where the local spirit is alive and well, the market for local arts isn’t as strong as it could be. While people are often willing to drop several thousand dollars on a new road bike, she says, they often balk at spending $200 for a painting by a local artist.
That’s why Firefly made it easy for artists to get into their first ever holiday market. Vendors pay a small, fixed fee for a table or a booth space, and no additional fees or commissions. This format allows a wide range of artisans, including those who can’t afford to quit their day job, a chance to break into the local market.
Getting into Firefly’s market is easy, but not too easy. Like the Boulder Farmers’ Market holiday show, the Firefly event is also a juried event. From a pool of more than 100 applicants, only about 60 will have a spot at the market. Those 60 vendors, however, represent a huge range of arts and crafts, so there’s no need to worry about selection. FitzGerrell says offerings will include natural wooden toys, handknit and felted goods, jewelry, recycled art, woodcut prints, homemade caramels and more.
“This is a great way to connect the area’s best local crafters with holiday shoppers,” FitzGerrell says. “Handmade crafts are pretty cool. It does have more of a human touch, literally.”
And even though this will be Firefly Handmade’s first event, it is getting into the full holiday spirit. On Dec. 4, Firefly artists will be marching in downtown Boulder’s Lights of December Parade with a float truly reflective of their DIY character.
These two holiday markets offer more than just a chance to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. They also give you a chance to boost your local economy and support artists and craft workers who are doing something they really love.
“There is something very special about buying an item from the very person who poured their creative heart and soul into it,” says Allison Bozeman, another co-founder of Firefly Handmade. “If everyone made the pledge to buy just one hand-crafted product for someone on their gift list this holiday season, think of the ripple effect that would have on the giver, the receiver and the livelihood of the maker.”
And the fun continues even after the holidays. Firefly Handmade is already planning its spring craft market, and the Boulder County Farmers’ Markets’ regular hours will start up again next April.
A third artists’ market, the Boulder Holiday Gift Festival, will take place every weekend in December until Christmas and will be located at the corner of 9th and Pearl Streets in downtown Boulder. The market will feature fine arts, crafts, food, home décor and more. For more information, call 720-272-7467, or visit www.coloradoevents.net.
For more information on Firefly Handmade and its holiday market, visit www. fireflyhandmade.com. Market hours are 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 11 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 12.
For more information on the Boulder Farmers’ Market Holiday Farmers’ Market and Gift Show, visit www.boulderfarmers.org, or call 303-910-2236.