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Monday, 5 February 2007
Peterborough, oddly enough, rocks.
Topic: craft and zine fairs

Ah.... that busy phase that kicks in when the temperature drops. What is it about having to bundle up just to cross the street that makes me have that sudden burst of energy? Meaning, of course, that I'm not inside blogging. Hence my silence. 

But things have been happening! I went off to Peterborough with a couple of the other Owls this weekend for the Trent U OPIRG Zine Fair. This will be, I believe, our third in Peterborough, in the absolutely gorgeous and welcoming Satleir House, surrounded by people who have become friends by long distance: Dawn Burnett and the gang at Brainwave, a group that publish and promote art by people who've suffered brain damage; Stu, the crazy altern-punker who comes with his vintage vinyl and CDs and zines about punk (a SERIOUS inheritor of the origins of zinemaking, that guy,) Puddles of Sky, a zine distro/collective making gorgeous hand-drawn and photocopied work... 

This is a great zine fair. It's nowhere near the size of Expozine or the Toronto Small Press Fair, or even span-o's small press fair. But it's so damn friendly, and engaged. Genuine conversations start over the tables. They invite a local young filmmaker to come screen his demo, they get a band to come in and play for the last hour or so, they provide coffee and tea in ceramic mugs and homemade crepes and ice cream. They talk to each other. We will make the trip and count it a weekend really well spent. More people should. It just has a sweet vibe. And bring something along to leave at the Free Market or the open food pantry downstairs. Or a book to read in one of the gorgeous upstairs rooms. 

Trent U's Zine fair completely takes the prize.

In other news, check out Montreal's Les filles electriques festival coming up... and look for some Ottawa names! 

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 11:19 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007 11:42 PM EST
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Sunday, 27 November 2005
Ravenswing Christmas Edition
Topic: craft and zine fairs
Yesterday, while a couple of friends took most of the Dusty Owl inventory out to Montreal for ExpoZine, I packed up the Gandalf's Granddaughter stuff and headed out to Ravenswing.

Best Ravenswing yet, at least for me. I made more sales than I've done yet at Ravenswing (in fact so did Carolyn and Cathy,) and there seemed to be a lot of traffic. I think an event needs to be around for about six months before it really kicks off, and I'm thinking/hoping that Ravenswing is hitting a stride. Sure, we're off for two months because of Christmas, but it seems like Zio's idea for creating an open, accessible space for crafters and zinesters and indie publishers to get together and put their work out for sale is starting to click. There was a good mix of different crafts, four different zine tables, and a knitting workshop (free craft workshops are now going to be offered at the sales, which might pull in a few more people.) Really looking forward to seeing where this fair goes in the New Year.

By the way, if you want to get involved, or you just want to see what's going on, you can check out the Ravenswing Yahoo! group - it's an online forum for all the participants and other Ravenswing groupies/junkies/minions. And you can join if you'd like!

Oh, and at ExpoZine in Montreal . . . Dusty Owl Press sold more than $100 worth of stuff! Hooray for Montreal. What a town.

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 12:03 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2005 12:19 PM EST
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Thursday, 24 November 2005
Come to Ravenswing!
Now Playing: As It Happens
Topic: craft and zine fairs
This Saturday, 1:30-5:00, is the Ravenswing Craft and Zine fair at the Jack Purcell Community Centre. Come on out! Cool crafts, an open mike, zines, vegan food, art. Christmas shopping at craft fairs is way cooler than Christmas shopping in a mall.

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 7:21 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005 7:21 PM EST
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Tuesday, 15 November 2005
The Trent U Zine Fair Rocks.
Now Playing: cold rain, Ashley MacIsaac
Topic: craft and zine fairs
I love the Trent U zine fair.

We went down there last weekend - we only knew about it because my friend Steve Curtis is living in Peterborough and found out about it, and got us a table. So we rented a car, and the Zytvelds and I drove down to Peterborough Saturday morning, packing carrots and sandwiches and coffee and all the Dusty Owl books.

I don't know what it was, but this was the best fair we've been to all season. The Trent U OPIRG group helped to organize it, from what I understand, and it was held in Satleir House, which is a beautiful old house reclaimed by the Trent Student's Union. It was small - eight or nine tables, I'd say - but the energy was fantastic, and the traffic was surprisingly high. People seemed genuinely surprised that we'd come all the way down from Ottawa (and we really wouldn't have been there if it hadn't also meant getting to visit Steve, or Kuma, as we have somehow wound up calling him; Kuma is Japanese for 'bear.')

This is also the kind of crowd that runs a Free Market (a room in the basement that just has stuff - if you want to get rid of anything, give it to them, if you need something, come see if they have it, it's all free... what a brilliant idea! I walked away with a rice steamer...) and who provide pasta salad, drinks and desserts to all the vendors at the fair. My hat off and my undying devotion to them.

I'll have to get some pictures up when Cathy gets the film developed. High points were the visual artist kitty-corner from us; the strange post-verbal zine Cathy picked up; and the fact that the fair also included a performance by The Cheshire Smile, a band from Oshawa (I think) who were absolutely stunning. Good, strange, original, totally collective-weird, with a healthy dose of Broken Social Scene going on. And a painter (who was part of the act; he had a shaker, but mostly he was just up there to be working on a painting while they played...) I gave the lead singer my address, so hopefully they'll be sending me a copy of their CD. I really, really hope they do, they were great.

We also got to poke around Peterborough a little, as Kuma took us to Speak Volumes (a great indie bookstore, and I'm not just saying that because they carry our books) and to the record store next door, which was mindboggling, and the Spill, which was the sort of coffee shop we don't have anymore in Ottawa, not since Screaming Mimi's closed anyway. After the fair, we dropped in at the Only, too - the last bastion of smoking in bars, and absolutely wall-to-two-story-wall coated in old photos, beer ads, and paintings... very cool.

And we got to crash on Kuma's couch and head groggily back to Ottawa in the morning. Fun. Chaotic. I was actually glad to see the back of the rental car by the end of the weekend. But absolutely worth it. If they run another of these, we want to be there. The fair was small, but it was clearly full of talented, intelligent people, and the energy was way better than at any of the bigger fairs we've been to this year.

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 11:43 PM EST
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Wednesday, 2 November 2005
Hotel CanZine 2005
Now Playing: Schenkerla Rauchbier, CBC
Topic: craft and zine fairs
My second year at Canzine, and it still wipes me out and blows me away. . .

CanZine is held at the Gladstone Hotel, which is under reconstruction right now and the oldest still operational hotel in Toronto. Last year it was the sort of run-down and bedraggled old dame that I thought you only ran into in atmospheric movies; crumbling, with peeling paint on the antique mouldings and creaking floors. This year, the antique mouldings are still there, but they're cleaner, and they've redone the front room and apparently gotten designers in to redo all the houses in various Trading Spaces-esque 'edgy' designs. But the back room is still full of exposed pipes and brick, giving it this strange industrial feel. The bar to the left of the door (where we finally found a spot) was clean, airy, and full of warm wood and brick colours. Then again, it was warm already - that many people in the room. . .

CanZine is hosted largely by Broken Pencil Magazine. Last year it seemed a little better organized; the tables were assigned then, so we didn't wind up roaming the first floor trying to find a table and eventually being handed a table twice the size of my keyboard tray (Steve went off and found another table that we could drape our cloth over: it was partly that we paid the same as everyone else, so we ought to have had the same 4-foot table space, and also partly that we had brought stuff from rob mclennan, Bywords, and Capital Slam, and sort of wanted to have room for them on the table.) And to be fair, when the tables were assigned last time we had less space.

But, despite the small table space, and the less-than-prime spot in the entry between the main room and the bar, we had a good time.

This is a massive event. The entire bottom floor of the Gladstone was taken up with the vendor tables - selling books, comix, zines, pins, shirts, CDs, art, you name it. Saw a couple of friends from Ottawa at some of the tables. They had "artist rooms" upstairs, where larger organizations like No Media Kings and Infiltration were holding their events. Check out their sites - both these groups really caught my eye this weekend and their sites are amazing. Infiltration, in particular, had put signs up all over the event stating "Do Not Go To Room ___" and had posted "Security Guards" outside their room, with a whole bunch of "Keep Out" and "No Trespassing" signs, so you had to go past them to get to their room. I thought it was wonderful. Infiltration is a "zine about going where you're not supposed to go." Sounds like a really cool idea (I'm always into going where I shouldn't go... why do you think I walk down dark alleys at three a.m.?)

I got to sit in on one of the panel discussions No Media Kings was hosting, on collaboration; a few neat ideas bouced around. Besides, I got to talk to Jim Munroe, who I first encountered when I read his novel Angry Young Spaceman, which I'm going to have to write something about soon. And he let me pay for my books partially in TTC tokens! (Always a sign you're dealing with a professional artist... when things like money... bus tokens... food... are valid currency. I like that way more than paying some huge distribution company!)

At some point during the afternoon a group of people paraded through the room carrying some sort of Green Man made of moss and sticks on a canvas bier. While I didn't really catch why they were doing it, I was automatically reminded of the Corn King and all the other year-end ritual sacrifices that happen all over the world. And I got a picture of them. It was a cool example of the energy that seemed to be just spilling all over. People trading their work, selling it, talking about their ideas, arguing for urban culture and subculture, creating art. In a really grreat space. They're talking about taking CanZine out of th Gladstone as it grows: I hope not. But, even if they move it, we'll be back...

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 10:34 PM EST
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Sunday, 23 October 2005
Ravenswing, October edition
Now Playing: still raining
Topic: craft and zine fairs
Went to the Ravenswing Craft and Zine Fair yesterday at the Jack Purcell Centre. I'm usually there with two different hats on - one selling handmade jewelry, with my friend Carolyn, as Gandalf's Granddaughter, and the other selling books at the Dusty Owl table. I share the Dusty Owl table with Urban Grove, Cathy MacDonald-Zytveld's mixed-media, linocut prints, and 'Naughty Soap For Your Dirty Body.' I think this is emblematic of Ravenswing's whole ethos, really - the longer I participate in the sale, the more people I start realizing are connected in ways I didn't know. I think it was the second or third Ravenswing that I came in and started setting up and realized that two tables down was the sister of one of my oldest friends (I met him, gleep, maybe 13 years ago back in Fredericton, NB.) I had no idea how she would have found Ravenswing, but she did. The next show found her daughter also manning a table - she knew another of the vendors and didn't know that I was involved. This week Aiyanna appeared at a table - we met her through Dusty Owl's participation in the Pride parade. The network of connections in this show are wonderful. I like to think it binds the crafting community in Ottawa tighter. Ravenswing really tries to be co-operative - although it's run largely by Uncle Zio and Festrell, we've set up an online group so the participants can help shoulder some of the work, and it's growing. I was particularly happy to see a table featuring gorgeous fused and dichroic glass - brought the feel of the whole show up a notch. Although, personally, I still like Queenie Tyrone's "Bondage Bitches" - Barbies which have been duct-taped, repainted and punctured into budget, back-alley "Living Dead Dolls". (Should probably add a '(tm)' or two there, shouldn't I?) One of those cool things about Ravenswing - you're not just going to find your usual craft sale wares.

The traffic was pretty good, too, considering the Jack Purcell Centre's under construction. Sales are still slow, though (I made a whopping $5 for one of my pendants all day) but that doesn't really bother me. I like the chance to talk to other crafters and writers and zinesters, and there's usually a DJ playing cool tunes and an open mike for poetry and music. Now we just need to get the word out there for the November show - try to snag the Christmas shoppers out there looking for original stuff.

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 2:07 PM EDT
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