The Art of Darkness

Bazaar Bizarre

February 9th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Bazaar BizarreBazaar Bizarre is an annual craft fair that emphasizes indie, punk, and goth aesthetics. Its organizer, Greg Der Ananian, wrote a book by the same name, and I recently picked up a copy under the assumption that it would be simply chock-full of subversive craft projects.

My final opinion: Meh.

I really wanted to love this book, but it’s short on crafts and long on…stuff that is not crafts. The format involves chapters which consist of profiles of various Bazaar Bizarre vendors, some musings by Der Ananian about each vendor’s representative craft project, and then–almost as an afterthought–instructions for the actual project. These are interspersed with “interludes” that have nothing to do with crafting projects and instead might involve anything from a “craft item word search” to an article about where the word “distaff” comes from. Interesting, but not exactly what I’m looking for in a craft book.

I’m afraid that the projects themselves aren’t terribly subversive either. A couple, such as soap shaped like the Anarchy “A,” are cute, but others are for things like making sock monkeys, and you can find that on the Internet for free. Additionally, although the project instructions are reasonably detailed, there are relatively few photos and illustrations. It’s certainly possible to follow the written instructions, but it would be a lot easier with pictures.

I also found Der Ananian’s remarks throughout the book somewhat jarring, as he appears to have made it his life’s work to let everyone know that he is a flaming homosexual. Hardly a page goes by where he doesn’t specifically call attention to it, until eventually you’re going, “Dude, we get it. You’re a big ol’ queen. Let’s concentrate on the crafts.” It’s disruptingly irrelevant, rather akin to Julia Child pausing between each step of a recipe to remind you how much she loves cock.

Where the book does do a fairly good job is discussing the equipment and skillset one might require for a particular craft, plus some notes about the terminology that might be encountered. There is some good advice for building a “crafting tackle box,” and many of the artists’ profiles include suggestions for suppliers and other resources.

Overall, I would say that this book might be useful for beginners because it’s reasonably good at covering some crafting basics, and more experienced crafters might find a project or two of interest, but it’s nothing particularly earth-shattering. A pity; it had a lot of potential.

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