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Civic Impact

Handmade Arcade set for Dec. 8 with more vendors, expanded hands-on area, live music and more

Handmade Arcade continues to be a premier, free, once-a-year venue for a unique shopping experience -- and a uniquely powerful place to learn how creative Pittsburgh can be.
This year has more vendors, live music for the first time and an expanded maker area, called Hands-on Handmade.  "The goal is to partner with local organizations to bring in their expertise to show that Pittsburgh is a very vibrant city with a love of making, all year round," says Handmade co-organizer Jessica Manack, who is also a vendor of handmade buttons at the show (as Miss Chief Productions). The Hands-on section lets people learn new art and craft skills and "appreciate the joy of making things and the people who make things," Manack says.
Among the new organizations at Hands-on this year are Healthy Artists and Carnegie Library's Zine Collection, which will be teaming to host a zine-making workshop. Knit the Bridge, by The Fiberarts Guild Of Pittsburgh and Fiber Art International 2013, will help you be a part of their yarn bomb project -- knitting squares to form a larger, bridge-adorning creation.
Pittsburgh-based online fashion company ModCloth will also be there. "It's one of the great examples of Pittsburgh entrepreneurs," says Manack, since ModCloth is a long-time local independent business that has made good, with a San Francisco office and hundreds of employees. "It's the kind of thing we've tried to foster with all the Handmade Arcades, the kind of thing we want to show off. Events like Handmade Arcade are one day, but they really have a ripple effect."
Indeed, Manack points to some vendors who have moved to Pittsburgh after discovering that Handmade Arcade was part of a vibrant maker scene. And the Arcade, although it's not a trade show, is also a place for companies to scout for new lines of merchandise. Redraven Studios, which does ceramic jewelry, has now had a limited-edition line of necklaces in Anthropologie. Overdue Industries, from Philadelphia, has gotten wholesale orders for its journals from Kards Unlimited.
The Arcade this year will also feature new tote bags from local strawberryluna, "one of our superstar vendors -- someone who has really grown her product and prints and is nationally well known," Manack says. "People like her support Handmade Arcade as much as Handmade Arcade supports her."
The Dec. 8 Arcade at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center's Hall C has more than 150 vendors offering jewelry, posters, prints, clothing, artwork, t-shirts, stationery, paper craft, accessories, housewares, children’s clothing, bath and body items, toys, music, zines, multimedia and what it terms "geekery." "Early Birdie" passes for $15 let shoppers in an hour before the opening bell. Live music will be provided by Instead of Sleeping, and DJ sets will be performed by David Pohl, J. Malls & Michael Seamans, Bad Seed and The Garment District.
Manack has been with the Arcade from the beginning, when it was founded by Gloria Forouzan. "One of the critical goals was to show off Pittsburgh," she says. "I'd like to think we're making it possible for creatives to live and thrive here."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jessica Manack, Handmade Arcade
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