By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 26, 2008 at 8:20 AM

It's no secret millions are upset with and untrusting of our economy and it'll be interesting to see what kind of affect that sentiment will have come this Friday, the post-Thanksgiving, day-long shopping bonanza known as Black Friday.

Then again, if you're not into all that hoopla, there's a way to get great gifts while avoiding the hordes -- and ensure that your money's going toward small businesses and independent artists from Milwaukee and across the country.

Forget Friday; Art Vs. Craft is on Saturday, Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 790 N. Van Buren St.

Established in 2004 by Milwaukee artist Faythe Levine -- who also co-owns and operates Paper Boat Gallery & Boutique in Bay View -- Art vs. Craft has gained momentum in the last four years as Milwaukee's primary source for DIY, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind goods -- everything from traditional (and non-traditional) handiwork, textile and toys to fine art works in painting, pottery and photography.

"(Our) vendors are a young, new-breed of emerging artists, crafters and designers representing the New Wave of Craft sweeping the nation," says Levine, who recently published a book about the rising trend, "Handmade Nation," with friend and fellow Milwaukee artist Cortney Heimerl.

The ladies have a "Handmade Nation" installation on display through Jan. 18 at the 2007 Mary Nohl Fellowship show at UW-Milwaukee's INOVA Gallery. A documentary film of the same name is due out in 2009.

With 65 unique vendor booths, there's definitely something for everyone on your holiday list at Art vs. Craft; something they're not going to receive from anyone else. You want it wrapped? They can do that too, courtesy of Cream City Ribbon.

"We support our local talent, as well as many out-of-state vendors who have never shown work in Milwaukee," says Levine. "The combination of local and national participants sets Art vs. Craft apart from other local shows. Shoppers can spend freely with a clear conscious knowing their money is going directly into the pockets of the creators."

Local vendors this winter include Brew City Botanicals, Dwellephant, Fashion Ninja, Fasten Collective, LACKA, Lamplighter Studio Shard Jewelry, Matty Cipov, Milwaukee Beersoap, My Mish Mosh, Neon Danger, Niche Style & Sound, Paper Boat Gallery, Rustbelt Fiberwerks, The Little Friends of Printmaking and more.

The first 200 people through the door get limited edition canvas screen-printed swag bags packed with all sorts of goodies. But remember: 2,300 craft-loving shoppers showed up last year.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”