The best term to describe Handmade Arcade is “craft fair,” but that really only touches the surface of this event. Handmade Arcade, coming up December 3 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, is more like an enormous arts festival featuring outside-the-box goods that you would only find in an Etsy-entusiast’s wildest dream.
“The very first Handmade Arcade showcased about 30 vendors and drew 1,000 attendees, and we have gone on to produce an event featuring 150-plus vendors from around the U.S. that attracts more than 9,000 shoppers,” says Jennifer Baron, a Mt. Lebanon native who attended the first event in 2004 as a vendor and is now the Director of Marketing & Outreach for Handmade Arcade. “I help run the event with a fabulous group of creative and incredibly hard-working female makers all based in Pittsburgh. … Our planning team works behind the scenes all year long.“
Drawing international media attention, Handmade Arcade was named in BuzzFeed’s “Top 35 Craft Fairs in the World” list, and it was also featured in Pop Shop America’s “The Best Fall & Holiday Craft Fairs in the USA 2016.” You can even find a reference to it in a recently-published novel—Gayle Forman’s Leave Me.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free with no preregistration required. However, since Handmade Arcade grows in popularity, size and attendance every year, visitors are encouraged to purchase Early Birdie tickets for $15, which grant access to the event one hour early (at 10 a.m.), plus a gift bag filled with goodies. Trust me, with 9,000 shoppers in one day, you will be glad to have the chance to beat the crowds.
This year, the event will showcase 150-plus artists, designers and makers, many of which have studios in Mt. Lebanon. Kim Fox, founder of Worker Bird, is a featured vendor this year (keep an eye out for an interview with Kim in our December issue’s “Finish Lines”), and The Artsmiths of Pittsburgh, located at 1695 McFarland Road, are event sponsors.
Please scroll down for Q&As with the vendors from Mt. Lebanon. And most importantly, be sure to pay each of them a visit at Handmade Arcade on December 3!
Klügworld, Dave Klug
Studio Location: Summer Place
Product Description: Whimsical portrayals of animal companions.
Average length of time spent on one piece: It varies, depending on size, complexity and medium used. The prints “take as long as they take,” but I try to not overwork a piece while keeping it fresh.
How you learned: Trial and error, and I’m still learning.
How to Buy: Online at www.klugworld.com under the Art Shop section. We have a good variety available, including woodcuts, prints, custom portraits and cat bowls.
Designs by Samantha, Samantha Bower
Studio Location: Beverly Road
Product Description: Fun and funky handmade jewelry
Average length of time spent on one piece: It depends on the piece I am working on. Sometimes it takes just minutes to create earrings, but sometimes it takes days to wire-wrap an entire necklace. Other times, just searching for the right materials in a particular piece can take hours!
How you learned: I began making necklaces for the bridesmaids in my wedding back in 2004. From there, I kept on creating. I learned the basics of jewelry-making from a friend, but I am mostly self-taught.
Most Popular Item: I think my large statement necklaces will be popular, because of their vibrant colors and affordable price point.
How to Buy: I sell online through my website, www.designsbysamanthapgh.com, as well as Facebook. My pieces are also sold at The Artsmiths in Mt. Lebanon, Wildcard in Lawrenceville, and Bellwether in Sewickley.
Too Many Sparkles, Kelly Sanders
Studio Location: Academy Avenue
Product Description: upcycled, fabric, pop culture, unique, fun
Average length of time spent on one piece: Depends! For cards and notebooks, it takes 1-2 hours each. Art is a bit longer, as my husband makes custom frames out of salvaged wood for each piece.
How you learned: After collecting mostly vintage fabric for decades, I finally figured out how to give it new life. I love the idea of upcycling, and I have a lifelong love for music and pop culture. The combination of both defines each item from Too Many Sparkles.
Most Popular Item: My notebooks. They make great personalized gifts. Popular words so far have been “squad,” “goth,” “punk” and “coffee”
Commonwealth Press, Dan Rugh
Studio Location: Mt. Lebanon store is located in Uptown at 691 Washington Road
Product Description: Pillows that look like pierogi
Average length of time spent on one piece: Years of planning, printing, sewing and making
How you learned: By just doing it. Anything I want to learn, I just do – fail – learn – try again.
Most Popular Item: The pierogi pillow. Our T-shirts have become classics at Handmade Arcade, and we have been part of it since the beginning, but the pillows… there’s really nothing like them.
How to Buy: At either of our retail stores or at www.cwpress.com