To describe Makers Arcade as a "craft fair" would be an undersell. The marketplace for artists and crafters had its third incarnation on Saturday, March 21, this time at the North Park Post Office (past events have been held at Moniker Warehouse in East Village and Glashaus in Barrio Logan). A friend who arrived at opening time (11 a.m.) found the long line to get in a bit daunting (there were swag bag for the first 125 guests, after all). But by the time I arrived around 2 p.m., I walked right in. Was it still crowded? Yeah, but pleasantly so—if "pleasant" can describe a crowd. This was a pleasant crowd, there to browse cool, well-made, clever goods. While it's become a little tired to compare San Diego to San Francisco or Portland, I'll go there: this event rivals anything you'll find in those cities.
My wallet was feeling a little light, so I limited myself to a single purchase—a Redstar Ink notebook (more about that below), but I made notes of the vendors I want to keep an eye on for when I've got a little more dough to spend. All of these folks have online shops, so I encourage you to give them a look, make a purchase or at least add a bookmark for the next time you're looking for something special. And, sign up at makersarcade.com to be notified of the next event, which organizers Jen Byard (more on her below) and Rebecca Chase say will be sometime in late November.
Jonnie Estes sells a range of goods, from screen-printed T-shirts to notebooks to jewelry. Just before Christmas, her emoji earrings were a hit on the Today Show, but I'm a fan of her statement-piece brass necklaces.
I have an obsession with notebooks that I can slip in my purse, and Redstar Ink's pocket-size notebooks with chipboard covers are perfect. Choosing which design I wanted on the cover was a whole other issue.
When I saw Chick Beads' chunky, colorful necklaces, "baby safe" isn't the first thing I thought. But, indeed, these are designed with kiddos in mind—theyíre nontoxic and double as a teething device.
I've had my eye on Thread and Arrow's T-shirts and onesies long before I knew these are Jen Byard's creations. You've probably spotted 'em, too, at places like Pigment or The Library Shop—the crossed arrows with the letters LOVE or SD. Super cute. So, too, is the Urban Kid memory game.
Housgoods' elegant, minimalist rod-post earrings (a partial square that hooks through your ear) are high on my wish-list right now.
You know those few items you own that might have cost a bit, but will last forever? Bryer's Barrel travel bag is one of those—handmade from microbe/bacteria resistant German wool felt, double-stitched and super-sturdy. It's $420, but, like I said, you'll have it forever.
Valentine makes silk-screened scarves, totes, aprons and towels, and it's her line of San Diego flour-sack dish towels that got my attention. Printed in retro colors, they look like something a tourist might have picked up here in the 1950s or '60s.
I was aiming to profile only San Diego artisans here, but I really liked Irvine-based Le Trango's sushi canvas tote bag, a deal at $20.
Please don't tell Derek Early that he could easily sell his reclaimed-wood coffee tables, side tables and desks for far more ($225 for a made-to-order coffee table? Hell, yeah). Or, at least don't tell him until after I've bought one.
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