Al Hoff of Handmade Arcade on Drinking with Martha Stewart

Handmade Arcade (HA), founded in 2004, is Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair. Now in its 12th year, HA brings innovative crafters and progressive do-it-yourself designers to sell, their handmade, locally produced and offbeat wares at a bustling marketplace. HA is highly anticipated event that attracts more than 9,000 attendees in one day, providing craftspeople and artists working outside mainstream fine arts sectors with a grassroots, high-visibility venue to sell wares, build community, network and share their artistic practice. Handmade Arcade is run by a collective of creative Pittsburghers who have helped to shape and bolster Pittsburgh’s independent craft scene over the past twelve years. The group’s founders — who, along with new volunteers, still run the event today — were inspired to organize a craft fair of Pittsburgh’s own that would tap into a national movement and provide a welcoming venue for artists and shoppers to come together.

At Midwest Craft Con, Handmade Arcade members will be giving a Craft Show Booth Critiques workshop — email Tricia a picture of your booth to be considered for a live critique during the session! We asked founding HA member Al Hoff (bottom left in the photo above) a few questions:

Why do you do what you do?

​Honestly, I watch a lot of bad TV and I like to also DO something while I’m destroying my mind. So, I do little self-amusing crafty things.​

What’s your earliest crafty memory?

​Free-form, free-range childhood in late 1960s, early 1970s San Francisco. We did a lot of whatever, hippie-dippie stuff — finger-painting, nailing things to boards, gluing macaroni on paper, god’s eyes, sand candles, decoupaged bottles and cans, and turning six-pack rings into Christmas wreaths. ​

What crafty personality would you most like to get a drink with?

​Martha Stewart, just to see whether or not she’d pick up the tab. ​

What’s your favorite craft/business book?

​I’ll have to go way back, and cite random books I had as a kid — books that encouraged kids to do crafts, especially things with ordinary household objects or trash. Turn a toilet-paper roll into a dog! Make a necklace from pull-tabs. Fold paper into a battleship. I didn’t do any of those things so much as I enjoyed seeing all the potential.

What are your goals for 2016?

​I’m getting organized. No, really — this is the year.​

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