FARGO-The annual Unglued: Craft Fest allows the public to see what crafting connoisseurs have been monitoring - namely, what's cool in the handmade community.
This weekend's eighth annual undertaking again features 70 vendors from a pool of about 150 applicants. Only 30 makers are returning from last year and 29 dealers are brand new to the bazaar.
One of them is Emma Groth, whose Studio 1318 showcases her work in macrame. While Groth is the only artisan to exhibit only macrame, Ashley Morken, who owns the downtown brick-and-mortar Unglued store and organizes the Craft Fest, says it's a trend that's heating up.
"Absolutely. People are asking for workshops on it," she says. "We're seeing it more on ETSY and in stores like Anthropologie. We are definitely seeing it all over."
"There's definitely a throwback to natural elements," says Tonya Scott, visitor services and store manager at the Plains Art Museum. She recently returned from her annual trip to New York Now, an international gift market where she gets ideas for the Plains' store.
"Leather and wood - these natural and earthy elements I see more and more coming out," Scott says.
Julie Meyer brings in her cowhide wallets, but make sure to check out the fish leather wallets by Joe and Pam Manthei of Mora, Minn., operating under the name Fiskur.
"That may be unique to this region," Scott says with a laugh. "They're cool, though."
One of the newer woodworkers in the show is Fickle Brew out of Minot, N.D., peddling a growler carrier with four glasses for the craft beer drinker on the go.
One trend that's getting a lot of hype is a return to letterpress printing. Bruno Press from Saint Joseph, Minn., returns to the fest after not attending last year. The operation's absence was felt, Morken says.
"That's huge," Scott says of the letterpress resurgence. "They're taking these classic techniques and what they're putting on them is kind of snarky. It's a very traditional art but what it says on it ... not for everyone."
Some things that seemed ubiquitous have waned over the last few year. Animal lovers will need to look a little harder for something with a bird on it.
"We're seeing less things with owls on them and less things with woodland animals on them," Morken says.
"That's totally played out," Scott adds.
The numbers of knitters and crocheters is also down this year, Morken says.
"Normally that is a heavy category," she says. "I think a lot of people are doing it more as a lobby and less as a business."
Morken says there will be plenty of things to catch people's eyes.
Bismarck, N.D., painter Nicole Gagner hosts a watercolor vending machine, in which she'll create a painting based on a word.
Luna B Jewelry from Sioux Falls, S.D., offers feminist glassware-featuring sayings like, "Nevertheless, she persisted," and "Ovaries before brovaries"-and Lexie Rundquist of Moorhead's Aerow sells goddess mugs with crystals and stones fixed to the glass.
Even familiar products, like candles, get a new twist this year, with Kindling Supply Co. from Fargo and Fern Candle out of Bismarck bringing scents like smoked grapefruit and vanilla pecan and fig.
"Our candles are going to be extra popular this year," Morken says.
If You Go
What: 8th Annual Unglued: Craft Fest
When: 5 to 9 p.m., Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday
Where: Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave., N., Fargo
Info: Tickets for the Friday Craft Preview Party Night are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and the event includes make-and-take projects, a live DJ, cash bar, food to purchase and open galleries.
There is no admission for the Saturday event, which includes free workshops and demos, craft beer gardens, young makers market, scavenger hunt, swag bags to first 100 visitors and open galleries.
The Link FM bus service is free from the Moorhead Center Mall parking ramp to one block east of the Plains Art Museum on Roberts Street. For more information, visit www.ungluedmarket.com/.