Despite the gray, cold, wet weather outside, the inside of Relix Variety Theatre was warm and brightly lit with the wares of craftsmen and collectors from the Southeast.
The first Retropolitan Craft Fair took place Saturday within the brick walls of Relix Variety Theatre, allowing indie vendors to share their homemade and artistic goods with the Knoxville community.
A crafter herself, Alyssa Maddox, co-founder and director of the Retropolitan Craft Fair, organized the fair with variety in mind.
"As an indie craft fair, we invited vendors that we believe are different than what you find at the average craft fair like at a church or a farmers market," Maddox said. "It's also very much about the environment. Relix is a great space with the industrial feel. The bar is open. There's a photo booth. It really is all about the atmosphere as much as the vendors themselves who are all great."
Vendors selling everything from clay or paper earrings to homemade leather-bound journals and quilts were invited to apply, then Maddox and her team selected 20 applicants according to space and variety.
One pick in this variety was Wink Wink Eyewear. Aimee Lee sells vintage eyeglasses frames from the 1950s-1980s. After developing dry eyes, Lee stopped wearing contacts and began her hunt for fashionable, vintage eyewear. Quickly, she "became obsessed."
"There's a history to all this," Lee said. "Before the 50s, all glasses were basically horn-rimmed. Then, new materials were introduced which allowed glasses to become something fun and fashionable which they had never been before."
When a customer paused to try a pair, Lee stood up, glanced over her wares and suggested a pair she believed would suit the customer.
From her display, Lee's favorite pair was a pair of petite, emerald green cat eyes with intricate gold and rhinestone detailing on its winged tips.
Amanda Fox, an intern in music production, heard of the event through a few friends who were organizing and working the fair. Once there, she was impressed by the quirk and craftsmanship within the goods she saw.
"I mean, where else are you going to find a shirt with a Sasquatch riding a bicycle playing the banjo? Like, go Emiline Art," Fox said. "And over there is a shirt with a picture of Bill Murray. Where else are you going find things like those in one place?"
For Maddox, the most important aspect of the fair– beside the vendors– was its location. Searching for somewhere comforting and creative, Maddox chose Relix Variety Theatre within the Happy Holler community.
"This area is just a really creative community," Maddox said. "And we wanted to bring Retropolitan somewhere with people of a similar mindset to share creativity with, and this area, Happy Holler, is really welcoming to events like this with art."
For a complete list of vendors and their shops, go to retropolitancraft.com.