The Holiday Shindy in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, stands out even in the crafty Berkshires. Few makers’ fairs boast such varied, outstanding splendors. With over 50 maker helmed booths all set aglow in an incomparable venue filled with spirit and festivity, the Shindy is continuing the tradition of hosting the region’s best local creations in its 12th year.
Walking into Shire City Sanctuary at 40 Melville Street, a majestic, 5,000-square-foot space in the Notre Dame Church building, one is greeted by a vaulted ceiling, classical columns, and light streaming through arched stained glass windows. Twinkling fairy lights shine amid a woodcarver’s lathe turned bowls, felted gnomes grin from behind woolen toadstools, and cerulean blue glazes gleam. All of the makers seem to know each other, it is a hive of creativity and a hub of the local artisan movement. The love and admiration that the crafters hold for each other is palpable.
Continuing downstairs to the lower level of the Sanctuary awaits still more to be discovered. In the well lit and warm makerspace, the Shindy founder herself stands amid the fuzzy, brightly hued backdrop of her favorite fiber, wool. Crispina ffrench is a maven of slow-moving fashion and has been selling her “Textile Waste Alchemy” for the past 12 years at the Shindy.
- A rug by Crispina, who will be peddling her wares during Holiday Shindy.
Fabrics assembled from denim, cashmere, wool, and a smattering of other natural fibers have found new life as picnic and baby blankets are hanging across the curved brick wall of the old stage that once hosted BINGO at the Notre Dame Church. Rows of cozy sweaters, coats, dresses and kilts wait to be expertly fitted by ffrench and sometimes modified on the spot. “I’m passionate about creative reuse”, says ffrench. “Turning discarded material into something beautifully useful shrinks our human footprint while providing deep empowerment.”
ffrench started her recycled design business in 1987 while still a student at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and has been keen on providing a solution to textile waste since before the blue bin. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, “The US generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles per year. That’s about 82 pounds per US resident. Of that 82 pounds, 15% gets donated or recycled and 85% goes to our landfills.”
ffrench is passionate about teaching others the craft, protecting the environment, and empowering her fellow creative women. Her Used Clothing Alchemy Retreat, is an immersive weekend-long tutorial in upcycling fabric scraps into beautiful new clothing and objects. The next workshop takes January 12 and 13, 2019, also at the Shire City Sanctuary.
Holiday Shindy 2018
Join Crispina and her co-conspirators while they offer treasure troves of the finest handmade ceramics, jewelry, decor, toys, apothecary and more. It’s holiday shopping at its festive, enchanting best.
The Shindy takes place Saturday, December 8, 10am-6pm, and Sunday, December 9, 11am-4pm. Admission is $3 for the general public. Children under the age of 12 are free.