Artisan guild breaks from tradition
THE Winter Festival fine crafts fair by the Pacific Handcrafters Guild
next month will be its last -- at Thomas Square Park, anyway.
Next year's events will be staged at Kakaako Gateway Park, Neal Blaisdell Center and McKinley High School.
For at least the next year the guild will venture out of the comfort zone that it, its artisans and shoppers have known since 1974.
A return to the park is possible in 2008, but festival coordinator U'ilani Mokiao said, "I think we've gotten too comfortable at Thomas Square."
"That's why we're thinking down the road, in the future," she said. The organization is looking into partnerships to add elements to its festivals and Mokiao cited the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center as an example.
"I'm excited to be putting something together with them," she said.
"If you work together, it's a lot easier than doing it by yourself."
"We're going into our 33rd year ... and we've gone through decades of artists and their children and grandchildren," Mokiao said.
The guild wants to spread out, expand its audience in a couple different ways and increase membership, which is a tough process for hopeful artisans.
With screenings and juries, getting in is not easy, but it maintains the quality of the fine crafts the guild represents, she said.
Some members have grown to become large-scale producers, such as island-themed jewelry maker Leighton Lam; Tropical Clay's Hawaiian flora-designed ceramics; and Curtis Wilmington, whose Hawaiian Accessories Inc. has its own retail locations.
Artisans who do pass muster may benefit from another plan of the guild, to "start selling online in 2007," Mokiao said. A new Web site supporting online sales is being prepared and Mokiao added, "we're even looking into the possibility of a retail store."
Before all the change takes place though, there will be one more Thomas Square fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 and 17.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com