Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair in Manchester is co-organized by Bedford High School’s librarian
MANCHESTER – Don’t come crying to the organizers – Bedford’s Jessica Gilcreast and Manchester’s Heather Marr – if you don’t find a pot holder or a doily at the Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair.
The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at McDonough Elementary School, 550 Lowell St., Manchester. The items up for grabs from 57 craft artists are far from mundane.
Gilcreast and Marr are the co-founders of Dizzy Cupcakes, a home-based business focused on making and selling crafts with an attitude, one that borders on the never been seen before now. They are the organizers of the Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair, now in its third year.
Gilcreast is the school librarian at Bedford High School and the mother of a 6-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. Marr, who works at Southern New Hampshire University, has a boy, 6, and a girl, 10. The two women share an interest in making crafts, especially from discards – felt, buttons, fabric, oilcloth and the like. Sometimes, plaster, concrete and spackle are upcycled to something that is artistic and marketable.
Marr recently said the urge to make something beautiful and useful that has texture and heft and color is a goal in her work. The relaxing element of doing handwork also is satisfying.
“There’s a need to express yourself,” Marr said. “Craftwork is relaxing. It’s an accomplishment you can see and feel and hold. You use what you have – repurpose, recycle.”
Gilcreast concurred and emphasized that at Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair, the range of unusual items will reflect a similar dedication to making new out of old. Various artists displaying their crafts at the fair specialize in the use of glass, paper, plastic, found objects and bits of nature, including stones, polished wood, metal and wool.
“We’ll bring probably two full tables of our things from Dizzy Cupcakes,” Gilcreast said. “We’ll be joining people there who are so talented. Each was selected by an impartial jury and chosen for a particular craft. You only have so many spaces. You can’t have too many jewelry artists or too many people who make baby tutus.”
A look at the Dizzy Cupcakes’ Facebook page reveals a wealth of who’d’a-thunk-it vintage pieces transformed into the modern. Rings and hairpins topped with vintage buttons share space with shiny oilcloth bags bearing images of ripe cherries or geometric patterns. There, too, are old books, disassembled and reconfigured into free-standing harvest pumpkins. Handmade crystal-like bangle bracelets embedded with garden flowers and pairs of dangle earrings resembling miniature book covers are wares from Dizzy Cupcakes.
Elsewhere, stamped and cancelled postcards from Manchester are reduced in size and reincarnated into brooches crafted by professional artist Kathy Grubmuller – Gilcreast’s mother. Scenes from Bedford, aglow in yellows and greens, are also represented. Wearable crafts from Dizzy Cupcakes include hair elastics studded with varnished, vintage images taken from Golden Books circa 1957, and earrings made from miniscule felted-wool books with open pages.
The origin of the name, Dizzy Cupcakes, comes from the fake cupcakes Gilcreast and Marr sell. Each cupcake, set into a colorful paper wrapper, is comprised of a swirl of bright white, frothy-looking spackle. Yes, spackle. The cupcake clone is topped with a resin-glazed, artificial cherry. Gilcreast said there have been requests for the cupcakes as snacks. People are confounded, she said, when told that the cupcakes are decor, not dessert.
The Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair will host a silent auction during which visitors can bid on ash wood chairs from GraniteCor Industries – New Hampshire Correctional Industries. The GraniteCor facility in Concord offers a range of mostly inmate-produced goods and services, such as woodcraft and upholstery, mail handling, logo design, typesetting and photo restoration.
The chairs will be finished by local artists and members of organizations.
The decorators are men and women with imaginations that ran wild long ago. Each chair’s proceeds will benefit a charity selected by the artist. A wide range of nonprofit groups, including Honor Flight New England and Bedford’s Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire, will receive funds.
The Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair will feature handmade arts, culinary demonstrations, food concessions provided by Mitchell’s Fresh, of Concord, and the work of crafters in many media. Some proceeds will benefit the Manchester Animal Shelter and the Manchester Police Wives Association.
Gilcreast and Marr said the craft fair has garnered kudos over the years for its fresh approach to art derived from the imagination. The women said that in their early forays to traditional craft fairs, they found little excitement amid the macrame plant holders, doilies and table runners embroidered with puppies – goods so often found in church bazaars or school-basement craft shows.
Marr and Gilcreast agreed that they “just didn’t fit in” with the pot holder crowd. They saw themselves as “accessory fashionistas” and wanted a different atmosphere, a sassy one with plenty of zest.
Marr said the Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair was the answer. There, the women are surrounded by artists with tastes similar to theirs. The pot holder and doily crowd surely has its place, Gilcreast added, but the entrepreneurs from Dizzy Cupcakes crave the slightly eccentric flair that beckons to others of like mind.
“We want shoppers to come and say, ‘This is a cool fair.’”
For information on Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair, email Gilcreast and Marr at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out Dizzy-Cupcakes on Facebook or visit the fair online at www.nygcf.org.