How about an earring crafted from your favorite Monopoly piece — the iron or the hat perhaps? Maybe it’s time for a necklace or ring made from the insides of an old watch. Are you sweet on a caramel apple on a stick? Or do you dig earthy mushrooms — of the ceramic kind? Or does a waxy whiff of hazelnut coffee light your fire?
All these can be yours — along with crocheted hats, tin collages, pottery mugs, screen-printed T-shirts, glass art and more — at the second annual Handmade Holiday, hosted by Wheeling Heritage on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Come to the third floor of the Wheeling Artisan Center at 1401 Main St. when doors open at 10 a.m. and shop to your heart’s content (and with your wallet’s contents) until 6 p.m. this year.
“We created this event to provide artists the opportunity to show and sell their products in a unique venue and to create an awareness of art and craft forms outside of traditional mediums,” said Chris Villamagna, program manager for Wheeling Heritage.
“I am a big fan of makers marts, and I love Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh. I was highly influenced by those kinds of things … I like the whole movement of independent craft and art … we’re going back to that makers movement … people are creating things.”
After attending other makers markets, Villamagna thought, “Something like this should happen in Wheeling. … So we just went ahead and did it.”
THE JURY IS IN
Twenty-eight artists were included last year, but this year, 36 artists were juried in to the event to sell their wares.
“We have some artists who participated in last year’s inaugural year, but we have quite a few new people that are participating. We did get a lot of applications.”
From the 55 applications this year, she carefully weighed who was selected based on a variety of factors. She wants to be fair to all the artists, by not having too many of the same type of artists.
“Out of 35 artists, if you have 20 clay potters, each potter’s not going to make a whole lot of money. … Same with jewelers … we have a good variety, but they’re all a little different,” she said.
PRAISE FROM THE VETERANS
Annie Henson from Annie’s Hands described her last year’s experience as “fun!”
“I like that it is a one-day event; easy in and out,” Henson said. “It’s right before the year-end holidays, so I get to do some holiday-related things. And it is always a treat to hear from folks who have something that I made. It makes me feel pretty special.”
Annie’s Hands will be selling salt mills and pepper grinders, birdhouse ornaments and bowls “of all shapes and sizes.”
Courtney Moulder, who makes and sells Apartment Two Art soy candles, believes that “Handmade Holiday is the perfect place” to showcase her product.
“The set-up was ideal for shopping local — so many great products all in one place,” she said.
Christina Hyde, of Jekyll and Plaid that sells hand-crocheted scarves, hats, fingerless gloves, coffee sleeves and a few other odds and ends, said she “decided to apply again because I had a great experience last year and liked the location, atmosphere and all of the people involved with Handmade Holiday. They were kind and helpful and accepting.
“It’s nice to see so many different kinds of vendors in a smaller town like Wheeling. The vendors themselves were also very helpful and friendly with each other rather than competitive. Another vendor even loaned us a full-length mirror for the day! The visitors who attended last year seemed to appreciate the value of the handmade items — as opposed to mass-produced items offered in stores. All of this makes for a great day as a vendor that will keep me returning,” she said.
“We love the atmosphere and energy that comes from bringing Wheeling’s artists together and letting them be themselves in a supportive space like Handmade Holiday,” said Beth Bedway of East Wheeling Clayworks, which makes small-batch, handmade functional pottery for everyday use. “We had so many people come through our space … because they love shopping local and supporting small businesses and artists. You can’t ask for a better show vibe than that!”
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Bedway added, “We decided to apply again this year because Handmade Holiday was such an awesome show last year! If the first time for this show was such a success, we see it only growing and getting better from here. Chris [Villamagna] did such an amazing job across the board, from advertising to communicating with the vendors — she knocked it out of the park the whole time.”
GOOD FOR THE ARTISTS, GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY
“We want to support the economy and support our local artists,” Villamagna said. “It brings people in the building; it supports local artists; it’s kind of pushing the whole shop small, shop local movement.
“I think this is good for the local economy because we have a lot of artists in this area and regionally. Every artist can’t be a full-time artist; some are. But especially if they’re just part-time, they don’t have the means or the finances to have a storefront business. … It’s an inexpensive fee to set up your wares, and we take care of all the promotion and bring the people to the artist. And I want them to make connections. … I want to build those relationships.
“It would be great if all of the artists could be making a living just making their art,” Villamagna said.
Making encore appearances are:
• Annie’s Hands — wood bowls, ornaments, etc.
• Apartment Two Art — soy candles, wax melts and bath bombs
• The Blended Homestead — cutting boards and crocheted blankets
• Barbara Bland — vintage jewelry Christmas trees
• Bomtron — pop culture-inspired paintings and drawings
• East Wheeling Clayworks — pottery
• Funky Ceramics — hand-built and wheel-thrown ceramic vessels
• The Indigo Lab — hand-dyed scarves, wall hangings, etc.
• Jekyll and Plaid — crocheted wearables
• Little Grave Creek Designs — handmade jewelry
• Lone Star Designs — sterling silver wire-wrapped jewelry
• MEM Squad — local-themed T-shirts
• The Painters Nest — watercolors
• Quiet Nook Cottage Crafts — found and broken object jewelry
• River Valley Designs — handmade jewelry/silversmith
• Rosalie Haizlett Illustration — nature-inspired prints and greeting cards
• Liz Hastings — upcycled game and toy jewelry, and accessories
• Iridescence Jewelry — upcycled vintage and steampunk jewelry
• Vi Laux Glass Designs — decorative glass
• M. Elizabeth Collection — one-of-a-kind sterling silver and 14-carat gold-plated jewelry
• Jamie Nation — modern-designed knit and crochet items
• Logan Schmitt Illustration — original screenprints
• Unique Gifts by Jacqui — gourmet caramel apples
• Bev West — macramé wall hangings and woven items
• Alex Wright — pottery
Villamagna noted that prices for items to be sold at Handmade Holiday range from $5 (ceramic buttons, magnets and note cards) to $500 (larger art pieces).
Holiday music will provide a festive atmosphere when the doors open at 10 a.m. on Saturday. River City will be selling beer and wine along with a special holiday-themed drink from 1-6 p.m. There will be free hot chocolate, water and coffee all day.
• Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigalnowserves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.