By: Cait Guerra, Contributing Writer
Local artisans selling goods by day, club goers dancing to Björk at night. These scenes might be strange to see occurring in the same space, but since August 2010, Urban Folk Circuit is making this more commonplace.
During the day of Feb.13, about a dozen or so local artists crammed together in the small gay dance club Berlin to sell their goods. The tables crowded with handmade bracelets, headbands and other goods were pushed together, leaving little room to walk.
Kelli Wefenstette and Jess Duff co-founded the traveling arts and crafts fair this October in a Logan Square bar.
“The crafts fairs were always in the summer for about a day or two,” Wefenstette said. “So we wanted to have a place where artists could continue selling their work all year long.”
And it seems to be working for them. Seventy artists have been to at least one Urban Folk Circuit market to sell their goods. These artists range from making jewelry to thank you cards and handbags.
Lavender in Brown is one of the vendors at Berlin.
Lavender in Brown was founded by Kylia Kummer and her husband. Like most of the vendors, these handmade goods are made from natural materials and eclectic recycled items.
For Lavender in Brown this was their second time as a vendor at Urban Folk Circuit.
“I love doing this because it’s organic and you meet and interact with so many interesting people,” Kummer said.
During the day Kummer teaches at the Children’s Museum and on the weekends she works on her products and her clothing line.
Kummer was selling necklaces made from old Scrabble pieces, earrings made from objects, knitted headbands and skirts cut and sewn together from old clothing.
Many artists like Kummer get inspiration from one another and the city of Chicago.
“Chicago has such a distinct culture and you can get really good ideas from the city,” Kummer said. “There’s also a strong network of other local artists and I’ve met some online or through different craft fairs.”
Often times the vendors know each other’s work already and will bounce off ideas.
“Sometimes you’ll just see someone working on their product and be like, ‘Hey, did you ever think to make headbands or jewelry out of that?’ Kummer said.
The craft fair not only supports local business, but also local musicians. Each craft fair has local bands performing, mainly from the Old Town School of Folk Music, performing while others shop.
“You can really see the support of the artists and even the venue,” vendor Marsha Spaniel said. “It’s really different, but it helps out everyone.”
You can check out Urban Folk Circuit’s future dates at http://www.urbanfolkcircut.com. You can also see the products from the Kylia Kummer at http://www.lavenderatbrown.etsy.com and Marsha Spaniel at http://www.spinalfusion.etsy.com.