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Craft fair with indie flair

The Baltimore Sun

Bored with mass-produced trends?

More than 40 craft aficionados will band together Saturday to present the "Pile of Craft" Craft Fair, an alternative art event. A small group of Baltimore artists, dubbed the Charm City Craft Mafia, has invited crafty comrades from all parts of the East Coast to join the fair.

This is the first event created by the recently founded "mafia," which is a chapter of the Austin Craft Mafia, based in Texas. According to Heather von Marko of HVM Designs, she and Joanna Ramani of Meghann and Jo's Aprons -- and another artist who has since left the group -- began the chapter in December and started inviting other indie crafters to join.

The group meets monthly and consists of 14 Baltimore-based craft vendors. So far, the group has been putting all its energy into planning the Pile of Craft event.

"We're hoping for a good turnout, especially because of the vendors from other states," said vendor Christa Hughmanick of It Knits. However, because this is the mafia's first event, it will also be a learning experience. "We plan to do many more events, so hopefully we'll also learn from this one."

Hughmanick usually sells her products, which include headbands, fingerless gloves and scarves, online. For her, the Pile of Craft fair is an opportunity to debut her latest product: iPod cases of various shapes and sizes.

Charm City Craft Mafia members such as Hughmanick and more than 30 other vendors will sell and raffle off their hand-crafted designs, which vary from aprons to posters to jewelry to handbags.

Another vendor, Rebecca McCoy of Bake Sale Designs, sells bags, pins, scarves, clothes and items for the home. She equates her handmade pieces to homemade baked goods, which always seem to taste better than mass-produced goods.

The theory behind indie crafting is that the extra time put into creating an original product makes the result a little more special than a similar product bought in a chain store.

Sarah Maier, who sells appliqued T-shirts, bags and baby clothes under the name Fort Cloudy, says, "I think it's more personal to buy something from an indie designer."

Hungry shoppers can enjoy beverages and baked goods sold by Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse.

The Pile of Craft fair will encompass the spirit of indie art. As the Charm City Craft Mafia's mission statement reads, these artists will come together to "celebrate the quirks of our charming city."

The Pile of Craft fair is 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at St. John's Church, 2640 St. Paul St. Free. Go to charmcitycraft for more information.

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