Finding gems at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival's Artist Market

Diane Wilson, owner of Porcelain Jewelry looks at one the earrings she made at her booth at Three Rivers Arts Festival on June 5, 2014.
Diane Wilson, owner of Porcelain Jewelry looks at one the earrings she made at her booth at Three Rivers Arts Festival on June 5, 2014.
Photo by Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, June 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Sitting on a beach in Maui, Hawaii, Diane Wilson created a necklace you can buy at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

The Regent Square resident is one of 338 vendors at the 10-day festival's Artist Market, which encompasses Gateway Center and Point State Park, Downtown. Hours are from noon to 8 p.m. daily.

Some of the artists stay for three days, while others stick around longer. They were chosen from among 686 submissions — a record number for the event.

“What I love about the Artist Market ... is that you have an opportunity to touch the artworks and talk to the artists about their unique jewelry and wearable art,” says Veronica Corpuz, director of festivals for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “The Artist Market is completely different from an online shopping experience or shopping in a commercial store. All of the works are handcrafted, and there's so much care and attention to detail that goes into these beautiful works.”

The Artist Market, presented by Peoples Natural Gas, has 18 mediums represented, including fashion items such as jewelry, fiber art and handbags. The artists come from 30 states.

“I was on vacation celebrating my 60th birthday when I was inspired to create this necklace,” Wilson said, referring to the creation around her neck. “Beading takes a lot of time, so I am not able to make a lot of beaded and embroidered pieces, but when I go away, I usually find time to make them. I added the pearls on this necklace while sitting on the beach in Hawaii. It's relaxing.”

Wilson has been showcasing her wares at the arts festival since 1994. She creates hand-formed, multiglazed, multifired porcelain jewelry with a variety of beads. She said she tries to keep prices reasonable so the items are affordable to most people. Her earrings start at $20 and necklaces at $40.

“The quality of work is great at this arts festival, and it's an opportunity to support local artists as well as see amazing items from artists from all over the country,” Wilson said. “It's one of the top-rated shows in the country. The people who come to this show inspire me. They appreciate art and enjoy getting to know the artist.”

Getting to “meet the maker” is what's nice about this show, says Janet Chico, owner of Material Things, a handbag company based in Los Angeles. Her collections are classic and somewhat contemporary, but not too funky or trendy, she said. Prices range from $82 to $240.

“It's nice that people get to see and touch the product, because these are visual products and these booths at the show are an artist's mobile store,” said Chico, who has returned for a second year. “This is a good market for us, because Pittsburgh is very cultural.”

Kathryn Scimone Stanko, owner of MetaLace, agrees with Chico on the city's appreciation for the arts. Scimone Stanko hand knits wire using traditional fiber techniques, to create nontraditional works of adornment. She is being represented by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

“Pittsburgh is an amazing place for art,” said Scimone Stanko of Monroeville, who is at her first such show. “I have heard other artists talking about this show, and they all say it's the best show ever. Everyone speaks so highly of it.”

Stanko uses recycled metals such as copper, sterling silver and gold to create belts, tiaras, hats and ties, as well as wraps. She is inspired by East Asia and Africa as well as old movies and fashion icons such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Prices are $75 and up. She said she creates works of art “that can be displayed on a mannequin or on you.”

Another fiber artist is Jenna Hirt of Daytona Beach, Fla., who owns Tying Tribes,. She is here for the fifth time and travels the world to find pieces such as bones and stones for her intricately woven fiber jewelry. She creates chokers, bracelets, eyeglass holders, and does custom work, as well. Prices range from $35 to $425.

“I do well at this show,” Hirt said. “Pittsburgh has everything — good food, a cool Downtown area and friendly people who appreciate art.”

Back for a third year is Claudia Carreon of Claudia Carreon Designs out of Dublin, Ohio. She said people here appreciate artists and enjoy one-of-a-kind pieces.

Carreon started out making jewelry and has expanded to items such as scarf rings and pins and belt buckles. She said she likes to have something new each time. Pieces are made from copper, brass or nickel and natural stones. The average price is $65.

“I don't save sketches,” she said. “And there are no molds. I like to make one-of-a-kind pieces so you know what you are buying is unique. I think people like that.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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