By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Nov 17, 2010 at 8:12 AM

As the popularity of do-it-yourself crafting has grown exponentially in recent years, the scramble to land space at craft fairs across the country has become increasingly costly and competitive.

In response, a group of friends and staples of the local crafting community have launched a new craft fair aimed at being more welcoming to emerging crafters.

"People who are at these craft fairs, that's their business. They are on ETSY and that is how they support their families," said Cortney Heimerl, who along with local craft impresario Faythe Levine, penned "Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design."

"The competition is really stiff, so we didn't see many opportunities for people who are experimenting with their craft or just starting out," Heimerl said.

Heimerl, Alyssa Schulte and Vanessa Andrew, who worked together in the defunct fashion collective Fasten, and their friend Ashley Chapman are the organizers behind "HoverCraft," whose inaugural event is slated for Dec. 5 at Bay View Brewhaus, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Schulte approached the other girls after talking with Chapman about how some of her friends were discouraged from crafting because it had become so difficult to get accepted to shows.

"That conversation really stuck with me," Schulte said. "I wanted to create a space for people who don't have the forum to sell anything or aren't really encouraged to make anything because they don't do it on a regular basis."

Hovercraft has a deliberately low entry fee and in future years new vendors will be given preference over returning ones in an effort to fight stagnation, Schulte said.

"Trying to be a professional artist I know how it is. If you have something down, and you have put a lot of time into it and it sells well, you want to keep doing that," she said. "But if you go every year and you are seeing the same kind of stuff it gets kind of boring."

In many ways Hovercraft was crafted in the amateur spirit of their days at Fasten, Andrew said.

"There was just like a flood of people that make things and want to be involved in the scene, and Fasten was always about that," said Andrew, "As soon as you can sell something, it's just fuel to make more things, and that is why it's important to me to get new people so that they can get in there and feel that feeling."

Bringing in inexperienced vendors can also lead to a more eclectic array of arts and crafts, Andrew said.

"The craft aspect is the streamlining of the process to mass produce objects," said Andrew, "The cool thing about emerging artists is they don't have that process down and often times their art is more unique."

In addition to the 36 vendors selected for the craft fair, HoverCraft will also feature an info table for local businesses, a live photo booth with Santa, a fortune teller, a table where you can make crafts on the spot, DJs and a free compilation of previously unreleased local music curated by local label Listening Party Records.

"We wanted to have something for everyone. We are having a lot of different types of performance elements, so it's not just shopping," Heimerl said.

Admission to the craft show is $2, which includes entry to an 8 p.m. concert featuring Magic Milk, The Spectras, The Midwest Beat and The Hot Toddys. Admission to the concert is $5 if you skip the craft show.

"I am really excited. I think it's going to be really fun" Schulte said.