Skippack Days: The Delight of Handmade Crafts

Colorful craftwork on display during Skippack Days.

Colorful craftwork on display during Skippack Days.

2016 Skippack Days will take place Saturday and Sunday, October 1 and 2. Festivities start at 10 am and end at 6 pm. More about Skippack Days.

Why the Skippack Blogger Loves Crafts

Handmade crafts, like those for sale on Skippack Days, are both delight and symbol. In an age of hyper-automated production and digitized perfection, they represent a different way of life, a different way of being.

For the Skippack Blogger, the appeal of handmade crafts lies in the individuality of varied items. All my life I have been a square peg struggling to squeeze my quadrate soul into a round hole. I cannot conform to other people’s ways of thinking and acting to save my life or my livelihood. I don’t think I even understand the thought process that motivates the rest of our social beehive.

Individuality is blessing and curse; the source of my creativity and my struggles. And it is what makes the handmade craft items at Skippack Days so fascinating; the wood-carvings, the gemstones fashioned to necklaces and bracelets, playthings created from polymer clay, stitched-together satchels, wax candles, mosaic-framed mirrors, hand-blown glass — each item is a tangible outcry for the preservation of  individuality against the tide of conformity. Each item is a protest against the tyranny of mass media and economies of scale. And I like it better if the hand-crafted item I buy has a flaw; let my purchased treasure have like me faults and imperfections that are impossible to conceal.

Action Not Words Create a Craft Show

Shop owner Butch Kaelin in front of the Southwest Trading Post in Skippack: "Crafters have so much pride in their work."

Shop owner Butch Kaelin in front of the Southwest Trading Post in Skippack: “Crafters have so much pride in their work.”

But if all one did was philosophize about the meaning of handmade crafts, nothing would get done. There would be no crafts for sale during Skippack Days. So let’s meet with a friend of the Skippack Blogger, shop owner Butch Kaelin, who manages the logistics of bringing more than seventy crafters to Skippack for Skippack Days. Butch is the proprietor of:

  • Southwest Trading Post, a beautiful shop for authentic Native American jewelry, pottery and other gift items
  • Victorian Carriage Shops LLC, a property which houses Southwest Trading Post and several other Skippack shops, in a setting with beautiful gardens and a shaded patio where the Skippack Blogger often relaxes and enjoys afternoons of live music.

Since moving to Skippack, I have enjoyed getting to know Butch and members of his family; his wife Beth and daughters Barb and Pam.

“I relate the crafters of today,” explains Butch, “to the original merchants of Skippack. Each one might have been, for example, a tanner who owned a leather shop, a woman who sewed, a woodworker, a cabinet maker, and so forth. From what I’ve been told, 41 years ago when Skippack Days first started, the original shop owners put their own items out for display and sale.

“Today, Skippack Days has changed to hosting crafters from other areas who can’t afford shops of their own in this economy.”

The Victorian Carriage Shops property extends from the parking lot off of Skippack Pike back to a field behind the buildings, and this area is dedicated to handmade crafts on Skippack Days. Crafters who exhibit here are  juried; Butch and his family decide which crafters will be included after reviewing pictures of their work and perhaps a booth from a previous show, with the goal of making sure a variety of craft types are represented.

Victorian Carriage Shops LLC is located at 4039 Skippack Pike.

Examples of Handmade Crafts on Display During Skippack Days

Skippack Days Handmade Crafts

Polymer clay animals

Skippack Days Handmade Crafts

Finely-carved wooden clocks










Skippack Days Handmade Crafts

Polymer clay people

Skippack Days Handmade Crafts

Handmade glass