A lot of things happened over the course of two days this past weekend, but one thing stands out as the most important to me. I met Jon Wye, maker of graphic leather belts, shirts, wallets, guitar straps, and other accessories. He and his business partner Jeff Ball had their usual booth at the Crafty Bastards Arts and Crafts Fair located at Union Market in Washington, DC on September 28th & 29th. It was exciting to me because I hadn’t attended Crafty Bastards in years, but this year I decided to volunteer for both days, and I am glad that I did.
I was aware of some of the items he made, as my wife has purchased at least one thing from him at the fair every year for years.
I believe the first thing she purchased was an early belt buckle that he made 7 or 8 years ago:
Year after year, different items began appearing at home and on her person:
When my wife and I first stopped at his booth on Saturday, I knew immediately that I had to leave with something. Had to. The first belt I was attracted to depicted two old west gunfighters having a showdown at sundown across the length of the belt. I asked Jon about that one, and he said that it was one of the first designs he came up with, just to see what a scene would look like on a belt. Then he showed me the belt he was wearing which depicted a more complex scene with space aliens and an overthrow of some distant planet. He had about ten belts displayed with these scenes and I finally settled on one that takes place on the sea. It was the Mermen that got me. Not just Mermaids, but Mermaids AND Mermen. I never saw a belt like it before. It was like seeing someone with a tattoo for the first time when you’re a little kid.
Though I was volunteering for this event for two days, and I spent the first day entirely behind a table selling one dollar waters and sodas, except for the quick trip to Jon’s booth, I decided to go on strike on Sunday, and spend more time looking at what all the vendors had to offer. One of the first places I went was back to Jon Wye’s booth to get another belt.
It was at this point that I started taking a closer look at his t-shirts. I noticed that he had one displayed that I have been wearing for a year now. My wife purchased one for her nephew at last year’s Crafty Bastards, but it was the wrong size so I inherited it. I told Jon that sometimes I did laundry just so I could wear that shirt again. It is one of the most comfortable t-shirts I own, plus it has a bear on it fishing for trout. I had to make some tough choices, and was able to narrow it down to two. I included the shirt from last year in this picture as well.
My wife decided she needed another belt as well:
On my many rounds through the fair I noticed that Jon’s booth always had a steady flow of people. The designs are eye catching, his uses great materials, and he and his team obviously enjoy what they do.
As his says on his website,
“We make almost everything by hand in our workshop in Washington, DC, and we try our hardest to get all of our materials and supplies from the USA. We make awesome!”
- Inspiration: Belts and Buckles (mjtrim.com)