Handmade Arcade, the region’s first and largest independent craft fair, turns 15 this year! On Saturday, December 7, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., more than 13,000 shoppers will descend on the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for the largest Handmade Arcade event to date, featuring more than 250 vendors (84 of whom are first-timers), hands-on activities, a DJ, art raffles and more.
Listed among Buzzfeed’s “Top 35 Craft Fairs in the World,” Handmade Arcade has a little something for everyone—shop small-ers, vintage enthusiasts, arts supporters and just general holiday shoppers. The main event is free, but people can get early access to the fair, from 10 to 11 a.m., by purchasing an Early Birdie Ticket for $15. The Friday Night Preview Party, on December 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., provides an opportunity to shop a whole day early at nearly 200 of the vendors, plus raffles, cash bar and the chance to mingle with the artists.
Although the event is downtown, Handmade Arcade also gives residents the opportunity to support local artists, as this year’s event will feature eight artists and makers whose studios are in Mt. Lebanon. Get to know them in a Q&A below.
Luster, Samantha Bower
Studio location: Beverly Road
Product description: Fun and funky handmade jewelry
How you learned: I recently celebrated my 15th anniversary of creating jewelry! I began when I wanted to make necklaces as a gift to the bridesmaids in my wedding. After our wedding, I realized how much I loved creating and couldn’t stop … I learned the basics of jewelry-making from a friend, but I am mostly self-taught. I enjoy using Swarovski crystals, glass beads, gemstones and upcycled paper beads in my work.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: A new line of acetate statement earrings, which are very popular!
Olivia Claire Designs, Tereleigh Fabean
Studio location: Terrace Drive
Product description: Totes, petite pouches, clutches, cross bodies, make up bags and earrings out of cork fabric (“vegan leather”)
How you learned: I’ve been in business for a about a year … I taught myself how to sew. I started sewing in college with hand-sewn scrunchies (LOL), and I’ve been sewing on and off since.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: Products that are 100 percent sustainable! I will have a large selection at the event.
How to buy: My items can be purchased on Etsy or Inner Rutz on Beverly Road
Worker Bird, Kim Fox
Studio location: Academy Avenue
Product description: Tea towels, tees, hand-printed kerchiefs, enamel pins, onesies and more—all featuring my illustrations. Also one-of-a-kind art using vintage tin and salvaged wood.
How you learned: I have been in business as Worker Bird for about 10 years. I studied Printmaking in college and am self-taught in some areas. My tin work was inspired by a workshop I took with Robert Villamagna, who is an amazing tin artist from Wheeling.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: My most popular items feature an illustration of 12 of my favorite bridges in Pittsburgh … For the first time this year, I will also be offering hand-block-printed kerchiefs. They’re totally one-of-a-kind and I”m so excited about making them.
How to buy: I sell my products locally at Wildcard, Love Pittsburgh, Heinz History Center and Visit Pittsburgh. You can also buy on my website.
Baxter and the Bear, Dan Grguras
Studio location: Questend Avenue
Product description: Minimalist movie and TV posters made from items I find, stage and photograph. It’s essentially product photography turned into movie poster art using mostly old or used items.
How you learned: I started selling photography in 2013, but I switched to doing pop culture posters in 2015. I’m self-taught in both photography and design.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: My most popular item is An Illustrated Guide to the Films of Wes Anderson … For this event specifically, I have a small selection of vintage-style Pittsburgh travel posters, and I got to work on a PPG Paints Arena poster the day after I was accepted to Handmade Arcade, just to be sure I would have it ready.
How to buy: My Etsy store.
Paper Julep, Karen Krieger
Studio location: Holly Lane
Product description: Jewelry, festive holiday ornaments, mirrors and a new line of paper products
How you learned: I started working in 1993 as a metalsmith making both jewelry and home decor out of silver and gold, aluminum and pewter. I am largely self-taught, but have taken many classes at fine craft schools around the country. When my husband and I adopted a baby in 2006, I could no longer spend the amount of time necessary at my jeweler’s bench … so I started working with beautiful decorative handmade Japanese papers called chiyogami paper.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: The jewelry is very light, bright and colorful. We will have some new items, but I’m keeping that a secret for now!
SLPmade, Sarah Pickenpaugh
Studio location: Craigview Drive
Product description: I knit and crochet for adults, kids and babies—hats, cowls, scarves, head wraps, knitted decorations, macrame items and more
How you learned: I started SLPmade in 2015. I started crocheting first in college and enjoyed that. After college, I taught myself to knit. When I found out I was becoming an aunt, I learned to make hats, and I haven’t looked back yet … I have designed a few patterns for my own use, and plan to add them to my Etsy shop for others to purchase and use. These patterns include the Ruthie Beanie named after my grandma and the Matilda Cowl named after my great grandmother!
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: Last year, I debuted my PGH hat and it flew off my tables. I will also have Mommy & Me hat sets, a Pom Pom Bar, which allows customers to completely customize their own hat … I have some brand new Luxe Line hats made with 100 percent Merino wool.
How to buy: I have a variety of products available at Artsmiths and I also have an Etsy shop with free shipping or local pickup. For custom orders, customers can send me a message through Etsy, and I will work with them to create a unique order.
Commonwealth Press, Dan Rugh
Studio location: Our Mt. Lebanon store is located in Uptown at 691 Washington Road
Product description: Handmade local goods focused on the love of Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon, good design and, most importantly, humor
How you learned: We started in our basement in the South Side in 2001. I learned how to create art by creating art—fail, learn, try again, repeat forever.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: Our Mt. Lebanon Blue Devil (that we named Blue Lou), had been getting a ton of attention … We also have a few new shirt designs and products we will be releasing at the event.
How to buy: Our retail stores are open Monday through Saturday. You can also shop online.
Arbor House Soaps, Maureen Tomko
Studio location: Seneca Drive
Product description: Small batch cold process soap, created using a variety of oils and butters, natural clays and colorants, salts, botanicals, local honey, essential oils and fragrance oils
How you learned: I have been in business for three years. I was fascinated with the purity and unique qualities of handcrafted soaps and the makers that I would buy them from. My curiosity led me to discovering a local soap maker who taught classes. After taking a few classes, I ventured out on my own to create my own special blends and brand of soap. The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild is also a great resource for learning about the craft.
Something fun you will be bringing to Handmade Arcade 2019: Lavender, honey oatmeal, black & gold and Himalayan salt bars are top sellers throughout the year … New this year will be shampoo bars! I would often get asked if I carried these, so I worked to develop my own unique bar. They are very long-lasting and are scented with an invigorating rosemary essential oil. I can’t wait to offer these at Handmade Arcade this year!
How to buy: I can be reached on Facebook or through my Etsy shop. Custom orders are welcome and take four to six weeks from start to finish. My soaps can also be purchased at Love, Pittsburgh shops and Starry Blues.