Hello everyone! I'm Kathleen Dorsey, Managing Editor for Shore Magazine. Pat is on vacation this week, so I will be taking over her blogging duties while she soaks up the sun.
Over the last couple of years, I've noticed a trend when it comes to shopping. More and more, people are turning to local designers and independent artisans to supply them with their coveted items, only this time, they're handmade.
A few years ago I discovered Etsy.com, the online marketplace for crafters and artisans to sell their wares to the masses. No longer do you have to scour city directories for artists looking to sell their goods; it's all available online, whether it's environmentally conscious clothing or unique gifts for the person who has everything.
It was also all available at the One of a Kind Show and Sale last week at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. When I walked in the doors for the press preview on Thursday morning, I couldn't believe my eyes - it was like Etsy come to life.
Of course, this coming weekend at the Porter County Expo Center, Dec. 15-17, the Shipshewana On the Road Holiday Show will bring all its vendors to our area just in time for Christmas shopping. While not all the vendors at Shipshewana are independent creators and artists, there are certainly many that are worth a look.
There are so many talented independent artisans out there that it is impossible to know them all - even all the local ones - but below are a few of the artists that made a big impression on me at the One of a Kind Show.
Second Chance Art and Accessories
Created by Amy Manning, Second Chance offers wall art made out of salvaged materials like antique window panes and doors. Especially interesting to me was the giant, three-paneled map of the world, with vintage-style decals over important locales, encased under three antique windows. I also coveted the long coat hanger panel made out of a door emblazoned with "Monsieur" and "Mademoiselle" - with Monsieur allotted only 3 coat hooks out of a total of about 12. Guess who gets the rest?
The Steam Emporium
If you don't know what steampunk is, it's a little hard to explain, but the best I can do to describe it is to say it's Victorian industrial retro-futuristic design. The Steam Emporium, created by Ed Kidera, is a design shop that carries all manner of steampunk gadgets. Even though his items look fantastical, most of them really work, like the iPod/iPhone dock shaped like an old radio with a plasma disc that can be set to throw off its electrical rays to the beat of your favorite tune. However, I was sad to discover that his jetpack and hoverboard are not fully functional. I guess I'll add that to my wish list along with my flying car.
Given my love of maps, it's no surprise that I loved everything in Mirabelle Studio's booth. Judy Lynn of Valparaiso, the artist, sells paper goods, including notebooks and boxes, made from vintage and modern materials. Her work is better than I can describe to you - the richness of the notebook paper and the seamlessness of the box designs simply cannot be conveyed in writing. Even so, look for her in a future article about local designers - we can't wait to feature this artist.
This extraordinary jewelry designer was part of the Etsy pavilion of artists, which offered new One of a Kind Show artists the chance to have a booth for a reduced rate. Youngjoo Yoo's jewelry is interestingly textured and crafted - I've honestly never seen anything quite like it. I actually bought a cubed lattice pendant necklace for my sister in law's Christmas gift; she's very hard to buy for. She's the sweetest person on earth, but she lives in Paris and works for Hermes, so what can you possibly get to impress her? But I think this necklace will do the job.
Although she didn't have a booth at the show, I was so excited to get to know Kpoene Kofi-Bruce at Etsy's craft station, in partnership with Craft Bar Chicago. As we embroidered custom gift boxes, we talked about weddings and being veteran francophiles and crafters. I leaned that not only does she love weddings, she has an entire bridal business that stocks only individual artists and designers - no corporations. I only wish I'd known about her store while I was planning my own wedding. Even though that period of my life is over, I can't wait to visit her store on West Belmont in Chicago for the next Craft Bar event.