Over 600 artists from across North America mob the Merchandise Mart’s 7th floor with a wide variety of wares through December 10.
There’s an admission fee to even get in the door, but in most cases the artists are in their booths, providing a refreshing connection between commodity and creator for clothing, jewelry, home goods, plus furniture, art and much more, including food and drink.
Lots of Christmas kitsch is represented, and the roller ball fountain pen folks were actually from Santa Claus, Indiana. If you want mittens made in the mitten state (Michigan), or macramé cacti, this is your show.
Repurposed art found a home here too, offering various flavors of steam punk, including Dick Cooley’s small sculptures using old spark plugs and metal parts, Annette Fiscelli of Chicago’s “Links,” using “100% retired [get it?] bike parts,” and Sue Lowenberg’s “Pencil Lady” art and jewelry, also originating in Chicago. Matt Silver provides stunning cityscape photos of The Windy City and elsewhere.
Berkeley, California’s Jim Rosenau has been turning vintage books into clocks and wall art for over 15 years, truly “novel” gifts that can also be customized based on personality and interests. He keeps over 5,000 books in stock to create each piece. “First, I tried to be funny,” former political comedy writer Rosenau said. “Then I learned how to make them beautiful.”
Also make time for the Fashion Show on Friday at 6pm and Saturday at 5pm, where mature, pleasant, accessible models sporting soft ponytails display the wealth of sassy, colorful, wearable women’s apparel available at the show. Included are a Chicago skyline line, an array of hats, figure-flattering shirts and dresses, and repurposed fabrics, including using men’s ties as “scavenger couture,” also the name of the design firm (another vendor, Asterfield, the Necktie Maven of Providence, RI, uses ties as well to create women’s “memory collars”).
There are also dog collars, from Chicago’s Sophisticated Pup. And I’m sure a kitchen sink is in there somewhere too.