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Artisans showcase custom crafts at Handmade Arcade

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

Jessica Manack has searched through garbage cans.

The unconventional artist will search high and low to find what she's looking for.

Manack uses items such as the insides of security envelopes or old maps to create fun and lively buttons and magnets. Junk mail is not considered junk -- it just might become something that helps her bottom line.

Manack hopes to sell a few of her creations at Saturday's Handmade Arcade at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. She is one of more than 156 vendors from the United States and Canada who will showcase wares for the holiday-shopping event. More than 7,000 shoppers are expected to attend.

"That saying is true that one man's trash is another man's treasure," says Manack, who found Miss Chief Productions in 2000 with roommate Erin Wommack at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.

"I believe there is interest in handmade items, and that nothing replaces live interaction with people," says Mancak of Lawrenceville. "I think people appreciate something that is handmade."

Handmade Arcade is committed to showcasing locally produced items, which often integrate upcycled, recycled and eco-friendly materials and techniques.

This independent craft fair gives grassroots crafters an opportunity to show and sell their wares, which include accessories, artwork and illustrations, bath and body products, ceramics and pottery, children's clothing, fiber arts, housewares, jewelry, music, paper crafts and toys.

Reflecting Handmade Arcade's staunch make-it-yourself mission, the event will feature the new Hands-on Handmade activity area, where shoppers can participate in craft projects. The hands-on project is supported in part by a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund to promote creativity.

This is the first year Handmade Arcade organizers have held two similar events in the same year. A Handmade Arcade was held in April. Next year's vision is to host a single two-day event, says public relations coordinator Jennifer Baron of Dormont, who owns Fresh Popcorn Productions.

Friendship resident Seth Le Donne of Panel Den Arts Collective, who creates limited edition hand-crafted zines, says, "I really enjoy an opportunity to be at Handmade Arcade and to discuss my work with a diverse demographic. You will see things you won't ever find at a conventional store."

Project manager Minette Vacariello, who owns Ray-Min Shoulderware with husband Raymond Morin, creates handbags from upholstery. She says customers like to talk to the artisan or crafter. "They understand the work and the craftsmanship that goes into something that you won't find at a department store. You also learn about the artist and the thought process of what went into the item. I think there is a real movement to buy locally, because that supports local artists."

Mundania Horvath of Wilkinsburg fashions collages with images from the collections of libraries.

"It's like a treasure hunt when I go looking for material, because I never know what I am going to find," says Horvath, who visits antique shops, flea markets and thrift stores.

"At Handmade Arcade, we all have a good time talking about art and design and learning from each other," Horvath says. "It's a great networking opportunity and a great opportunity to see what other people are doing and making. I strive to create work that balances, art, design and advertising."

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Handmade Arcade

Handmade Arcade

More than 156 vendors from the U.S. and Canada will showcase wares for the holiday-shopping event.

Additional Information:

Handmade Arcade

When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free. A $15 early-bird pass allows entrance to the event at 10 a.m. The pass can be purchased at Wildcard boutique in Lawrenceville or online. Passes are limited to 200 and must be purchased in advance.

Where: David Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown

Details: 412-736-0343 or website

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