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Posted at 3:38 PM ET, 09/29/2010

Inglourious (Crafty) Bastards: Highlights from Saturday's fest

By Lavanya Ramanathan

Crafty vendors Brainstorm Print & Design will sell punchy, colorful posters. ("Atmosphere" and "Earth" by Brainstorm Print & Design)

Saturday's forecast calls for a high of 70 with sunny skies. What better way to spend a perfect weather day than inserting yourself into a swarm of people looking at hand-crafted treasures? That's what we'll be doing. Adams Morgan's annual Crafty Bastards art fair unfolds at the Marie Reed Learning Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with more than 150 vendors. Here are some of the booths we plan to visit.

Lavanya: I had to do a double-take when I saw a vendor named Jay McCarroll on the Crafty Bastards list. Now, I know of only one Jay McCarroll, and he was the winner of the first "Project Runway" -- not exactly the type to be camped out in Adams Morgan hawking tote bags to the masses. But oh, yes, a little investigative journalism revealed, it's so true: Jay McCarroll is coming to Crafty. You can meet the now-Philadelphia-based designer Saturday, and maybe even do him a solid and buy a real Jay McCarroll signature tote bag or that must-have fall accessory, the "power cuff." (Seriously though, the men's ties are the most compelling thing we spied on his site.)

Stephanie: Another Philadelphia import for the weekend is Brainstorm Print & Design. While colorful, whimsical pieces may be a Crafty mainstay, Jason Snyder and Briana Feola's works are dazzling thanks to their fanciful detail. The pair's prints include vibrant posters of hot air balloons set against mountaintops, art nouveau portraits featuring flowery swirls and the work (above) that will have me getting to the fair first thing in the morning -- a depiction of the atmosphere with layers of blues and purples, shooting stars and clouds that make you want to sing in the rain.

Lavanya: I wrote about the scrappy Kristina Bilonick in the Weekend section last year as part of a look at Crafty Bastards and the alt-craft movement. I was interested in her work because, frankly, I always find myself buying her screen-printed ties and shirts -- and because her pop aesthetic is strongly tied to the early 80s, which, unfortunately, were my formative years. She amps up production for Crafty Bastards, but you should still get to her booth early for first dibs on her quirky goods. (Her "Let's Get Famous!" ties, printed on vintage stock, should be standard ironic attire for men in this city.)

HGTV can try all it wants to brainwash us with its bland, dystopian, suburban version of what our homes should look like, but there is no way I'm ever coming home to an apartment done up in 20 shades of beige. That's why I can't help but embrace the subversive '60s vibe of the lamps by bright lights little city. Heather Wells is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (which is saying a lot, since alums include Shepard Fairey, Jenny Holzer and Seth McFarlane). She, however, works in the high-art medium of cocktail umbrellas, creating working lamps that are as colorful and innovative as the original Tiffanys. It's just that they also make you want a tiki drink.

Stephanie: Don't be deterred by the crush of people surrounding the Squidfire, Inc. booth; the t-shirts on sale are worth wiggling into the scrum. For five years, this little company has been offering pieces of wearable art that serve as goofy wardrobe staples. Case in point, one of my favorite Crafty purchases last year: A Squidfire tee featuring a furry yeti wandering through a forest of evergreens. Like most of what you'll see for sale, it was as random as it was adorable.

Lavanya: MoCo's El Jefe is the go-to guy for incredible, frame-able rock posters in the Washington area. (This is a man who once made a poster with the Devo hat on the Lincoln Memorial.) Definitely worth a stop if you're looking for something a little edgier than a landscape painting for your wall.

Stephanie: You could have your morning cereal and coffee in sleek, matching Crate and Barrel tablewear. But what fun would that be when the alternative is Pink Kiss Pottery? Baltimore-based Shawna Pincus creates charming mugs, serving plates and bowls that feature layers of imagery that include typewriter letters, colonial chairs and leaping deer.

When it comes to the work of Brooklyn-based artist Jen Pepper, the pieces are as much about what you don't see as what you do. Her company Peppersprouts offers home accessories and jewelry made of laser-cut wood. Coasters featuring silhouettes become striking oddities when the faces are cut away revealing nothing but the table beneath, while a piece of art with trees and woodland animals stand out against a nonexistent background.

Lavanya: You can find the fingerprints of street artist Kelly Towles all over D.C. (his most recent mural is a biggie at W and 12th streets NW). But for his work to end up on your walls, you'll have to pay up at Crafty Bastards, where Towles will be selling prints, etc. It just seems obvious to support real visual artists when the alternative is spending your money on a hideous "reconstructed"/upcycled sweater dress or felt-n-glue necklace/fashion distaster. Yeah, I said it.

Clearly, this is just a small sampling of what's to come. Let us know in the comments what other vendors you plan to visit.

-- Stephanie Merry and Lavanya Ramanathan

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | September 29, 2010; 3:38 PM ET
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