Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

first-class crafts

Here’s the long answer to the question, “What is Inland Crafts?”: It’s an exhibition and sale featuring 75 artisan booths at the Spokane Convention Center.

Short answer: It’s a heck of a place to buy Christmas presents.

And not just any Christmas presents, but the kind for people who appreciate handcrafted, artistic quality.

Inland Crafts has prided itself on high standards since it began 25 years ago, when a group of local artisans banded together to show Spokane that the terms “crafts” and “fine arts” were not mutually exclusive. Only artisans who had attained a strict level of quality were admitted.

This year, the participants have met “the usual exacting standards,” said Louise Kodis, board president and a participating artist for all of those 25 years.

Those standards are enforced by a juried process which not only keeps the quality high, but ensures that Inland Crafts has a varied mix of glasswork, fine wood furniture, sculpture, basketry, pottery, jewelry, photography, weaving, toys and musical instruments.

Yep, you can buy a Celtic harp if you want.

The juried process has one more advantage as well.

“It helps us to keep a diversity of prices,” said Kodis.

After you pay your $7 admission (good for the whole weekend), you’ll be able to find items ranging from just a few bucks to … well, plenty of bucks.

The growth of Inland Crafts over the last 25 years is best illustrated by a list of the locations the show has outgrown, in roughly chronological order: Glover House, Waikiki Mansion, the Woman’s Club, Masonic Temple, Crescent Court and the Interstate Fairgrounds.

This year, it returns to the Spokane Convention Center’s Group Health Exhibit Hall (the center’s big new hall).

The number of exhibitors has shrunk from about 90 last year to 75, but that was strictly a quality control measure. Kodis said that 90 booths reduced the amount of floor space for each booth, and proved to be too many for attendees to fully explore.

Attendance last year was around 4,000 for the weekend; Kodis predicts about 5,000 this year.

The artisans come from all over the Northwest and Montana, and many are repeat exhibitors.

Katie Patten and Leonard Tinnell, fused-glass artists from Missoula, have been coming back every year since the early 1990s.

“The quality of this show is one of the finest in the country – and we travel all over the country doing shows,” said Tinnell. “They stick to their standards.”

Artists will be doing demonstrations through the weekend. One of the featured events will be a “Pottery Throw-Off” on Friday at 5 p.m., featuring local TV personalities competing to make the best pot. This is a benefit for Mobius Kids.