If you’re in a pinch with gift buying this year, one event in New Paltz might have something to offer. Unison Arts Center’s 23rd annual Arts & Crafts Fair will take place Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 at the New Paltz Middle School.
“It’s lots of wonderful handmade objects — everything from handmade jewelry to brooms and pottery and furniture. It just a really wide array of lovingly handmade objects,” explained Christine Crawfis, with Unison.
When people buy paintings or pottery, sometimes the artist remains a mystery — just a signature on the piece. That’s not the case with the Arts & Crafts Fair.
“One of the real gifts is that you get to have a conversation and meet the person who actually made the object that you’ll be giving,” she said.
Variety isn’t an issue at the fair: There are potters, painters, woodworkers, leatherworkers, jewelers and glass blowers. Visitors will see crafted dolls, artisanal baskets and photography.
“It’s a great opportunity to not only buy wonderful, unique gifts for the holidays. But also it supports living artists and it supports Unison, who is their local art center,” Crawfis said. “We think of ourselves as their connection to local and living artists.”
Craig Andrews, of Birdhouse Brokerage, will be at the fair selling his popular model birdhouses. They work to make functional, usable outdoor birdhouses that double as scale models for Cape Cod and Colonial-style homes.
After 17 years of making birdhouses, assuming that people were hanging them outside, Andrews learned that some customers had a secondary reason for buying them.
“A lot of our customers decorate indoors with them, but yet we make them for the birds,” he said. “They’re functional.”
Craig and Christa Andrews have been going to Unison Arts & Crafts Fair for years as a vendor, which the birdhouse maker describes as a “good mix” of different items. They’ve been going long enough to befriend other craftspeople at the fair.
“A good crowd comes out. We had a great crowd last year,” he said. “As far as the number birdhouses we sold, it was one of our best in years.”
Annie O’Neill, of Gardiner, will be there selling her pottery — which features highly stylized animals inspired by Mexican folk art.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico. So I’m very influenced by the exuberance and color and humor that a lot of Mexican artisans have in their work,” O’Neill said.
Her hand-built platters and bowls are also functional. “They could be for eating,” she explained. But with the intricate line work on each piece O’Neill makes, it might be hard to want to put one of her ceramic creations on the dinner table.
Unison Arts & Crafts Fair run from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It’s at New Paltz Middle School, 2 South Manheim Boulevard, in New Paltz. Admission is $3 for adults, but kids 16 years old or younger get in free.
For more information about the fair, check out www.unisonarts.org.