Handmade Arcade Holiday Market offers small shopping, live demos, art, and more | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Handmade Arcade Holiday Market offers small shopping, live demos, art, and more

click to enlarge Handmade Arcade Holiday Market offers small shopping, live demos, art, and more
Photo: Joey Kennedy
Shoppers at Handmade Arcade Holiday Market
Like any city, Pittsburgh has its share of holiday traditions. One of those is the Handmade Arcade Holiday Market, an event connecting shoppers with an ever-growing list of artists, craftspeople, and makers selling handmade items.

The latest annual Holiday Market will take place Sat., Dec. 4 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and while there's plenty of gifts to be found, the event also promises other surprises, too.

The market will consist of over 200 vendors, some local to Pittsburgh and others from all over the country. Out of that number, 83 are brand new vendors to Handmade Arcade, including PACKPACK, which makes fanny packs using organic cotton and eco-friendly inks, and After Dark Illustration, a business through which artist Dan Senneway sells hand-drawn "hauntingly beautiful unique takes" on what goes on in Pittsburgh after dark.

Other products range from glassware, jewelry, clothing, bath and body, and so much more.
click to enlarge Handmade Arcade Holiday Market offers small shopping, live demos, art, and more
Fanny packs by Handmade Arcade Holiday Market vendor PACKPACK
During past markets, there was a hands-on activity area. This year, to be COVID-safe, it is being replaced with demonstrations in which guests can watch art being created in front of them, with some take-home craft kits being given away in limited quantities.

Tricia Brancolini-Foley, executive director of Handmade Arcade, explains that, due to the pandemic, there will be extra safety precautions taken to limit the spread of COVD-19. Changes include utilizing two halls in the convention center rather than one, spreading out vendors, and requiring timed tickets.

“By doing so, we control the flow of the crowd, keeping our shoppers and vendors as safe as possible,” says Brancolini-Foley, adding that all guests over the age of 2 will also be required to wear face masks. 

The demonstrations include custom silk-screened wrapping paper with Artist Image Resources and students from CAPA, large-scale mural painting with artist Jayla Patton, blacksmithing with Protohaven, glass blowing with the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and scrap fabric quilt squares with Lindsay Hagerty.

This year will also see an art exhibition at the event, with a quilt display in the lobby titled 52 Weeks: A Post Pandemic Lockdown Affirmation. Created by artist Barb Grossman, the quilt project started as a recycling project and became a year-long, zero-waste art project. The quilt has 52 recycled fabric panels, one for every week for a full year of lockdown.

Brancolini-Foley is looking forward to seeing the community come out to the event.

“It’s been a long and sometimes isolating year, and we are so excited to bring the whole community together again,” she says. “Nothing can compare to the in-person holiday market experience. Being able to talk to the makers, pick up their products, feel the textiles, smell the candles and the soaps is an indescribable feeling of joy for people who value the love and craftsmanship that goes into high-quality handmade products.”

The market is also important for vendors, as they get to share their passions and bring more attention to their stores.

“This is our favorite time of year,” Brancolini-Foley said. “It’s a magical experience to see so many makers – established artists and rising stars – gathered in a hall, sharing their exceptional work with our community.”

Handmade Arcade Holiday Market. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Early bird shopping 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m. David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown. Free. $25 early bird admission. Registration required for timed tickets. handmadearcade.org