Sunday, November 22, 2015

Is shopping browsing or buying?

I love a good crafts fair. I love seeing the work of someone’s imagination and skill, and I also play a game of identifying the operative fad. Remember macramé? Dating myself back to my First Third, I remember going to the Greenwich Village Art Fair and the big thing was painting on velvet. (For some reason, the only mental pictures I have are matadors and Elvises on velvet.)

When I first moved to Anchorage, craft fairs meant crocheted toilet paper covers. I almost backed out of moving here because of them. But now I am the proud owner of Paul Dungan wine glasses with pottery stems, a hat from Tracy Anna Bader, and dozens of dolls from Marilee Dupree. And in the biggest treat I ever gave myself, I bought a complete set of dishes, service for ten, from a potter at the Girdwood Forest Fair about a dozen years ago. My room is decorated in all sorts of flying women or women with red hair, the products of crafts fairs across the country, fueling both my inspiration and aspirations.

I enjoy supporting the local artisans and crafters, but now that I’m in my Third Third and avoiding acquisition (with rules like “no new pottery enters the house until a piece leaves”), I only approach crafts fairs with single-minded missions. For years, I was looking for just the right butter dish. Then it was just the right lasagna pan. Then just the right teapot that could handle a big crowd of tea drinkers.

Years back, I had finally found the perfect butter dish, but the potter told me it wasn’t for sale. I think she used it to hold her business cards. I never found a butter dish that equaled it, so I kept using the plastic one that came with the refrigerator. Years later, a new employee started at work. Soon after, she brought me the butter dish. Apparently, the potter (a friend of hers) had always felt foolish not selling it to me and when my co-worker mentioned she was working with me, the potter insisted she deliver it.

An incredible benefit of living in small town Anchorage! I don’t even know how the potter knew who I was.

With all my missions finally accomplished, I’m left to roam the crafts fairs just looking. I don’t wear jewelry so I’ve always skipped those booths, but now I browse all the booths with thoughts like these: “Those wall hangings are gorgeous … but we don’t have any more room on our walls.” “Those tile trivets are clever … but do we really need another trivet?” “That pottery yarn ball holder is lovely … but it works just as easily to keep the yarn in a bag.”

This is not the right head set to browse a crafts fair! This is a bummer head set. I need to come up with a different approach, a way to appreciate without feeling like I’m being so relentlessly practical or stingy.

Oh, I still leave room for the hum, the sense that something is a perfect gift for someone or something that truly inspires. (There was the Snowball Fight in a Can – felted white balls sealed in a paint can – which was perfect for Sophie in California.) But mostly, I stick to consumables, as in food.

Even with food, there are the fads. One year, everything was acai berries. This year, it’s chaga, which is a giant, black, gross-looking mushroomy-type thing. And not even counting the chaga, tea is big. So big that tea is now getting the pottery rule in my house: “No more tea enters the house until more is drunk.” We’re going to be floating for quite a while.

But if I’m going to be drinking all that tea, I need more honey. And to cancel all that sweetness, I’m going to need more pickled garlic. How’s our supply of mustard?
Sounds like a mission to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sharing Button