After the turkey has settled and the pumpkin spice lattes have transitioned to frothy peppermint mochas, grab your wallet and reusable tote bags because it’s holiday craft fair season until we land with a thud in 2016.
Austin hosts a range of fairs in November and December, but if you’re looking to score that neon dinosaur planter or Velvet Underground vinyl record wall clock at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night, I recommend you make your way to North Austin for one of Austin’s longest-running craft shows, Blue Genie Art Bazaar.
A pop-up shop sets up camp at Marchesa Hall every day from now until Christmas Eve. Long hours–10 a.m. to 10 p.m.–make it easy to stop by before work or after drinks.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar is an Austin staple that has grown from years of cultivation, grassroots support and enthusiasm. Started on the eastside by a team of large-scale, commercial fabrication artists who just wanted to sell their handmade goods, this 15-years-and-counting bazaar now hosts 130 artists within one sprawling market venue. Today, their juried panel picks from over 300 artists to curate a yearly holiday show that represents a wide range of quirky, local and handmade goods that cater to a crowd as diverse and eclectic as this city.
Whether you’re on the prowl for atmospheric ephemera, or big boy toys like irreverent pearl button shirts with yetis embroidered on the chest, there’s something for you here.
I walked into the fair, sidled up to the full bar where I snagged a winter-warming cocktail and began my tour of the sprawling market.
One of the first things I noticed is that, instead of ringing up purchases with each individual vendor at the stall location, shoppers pick and choose items from every vendor area, and pay all at once before they leave. I appreciate this effort to streamline the process. From the customer’s perspective, it ups the level of professionalism the fair offers. The products might be DIY, but the setup at Blue Genie allows artists to leave their goods in the hands of the trained market staff, instead of having to man their booth all day, every day.
My Favorite Picks at Blue Genie Art Bazaar
I loved the seemingly endless lineup of unique jewelry at below-boutique prices. I caught myself abandoning my shopping lists for others, to sneak a few minutes to try on some statement pieces to put under my own Christmas tree.
If you’re a fan of zany silk screen design, you’ll find lots to love with an array of post-modern t-shirt designs and one-of-a-kind indie art prints. For the punk rock Star Wars fans, it seems as if everyone is feeling the love for the upcoming film. Hints of the Empire are found in everything from art references to tea cozies to Storm Trooper clothing models throughout the fair.
For anyone wanting to make headway on their shopping to-do list, while skipping the blasé and big box, Blue Genie Art Bazaar is an handmade alternative that is surprisingly approachable and brimming with zany, handmade objects that do their small part to keep it weird this December.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar
Marchesa Hall at 6226 Middle Fiskville Road
Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2015
Daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
What is your favorite place to pick up a quirky, locally-made stocking stuffer?