Local artists to be featured in city’s largest craft convention


Photo by Joey Kennedy

The annual Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair, is this Saturday, Dec. 6 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Downtown. A curated event, this year three Northside artists were selected to be vendors.

By Justin Criado

Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The city’s largest and most popular indie craft show, Handmade Arcade, is this Saturday, Dec. 6 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and with over 8,000 attendees annually and 150 independent vendors from around the nation it’s the place to go to find that one of a kind holiday gift.

In its 14th year, the show is a curated event and this year three Northside artists were selected.

As former education coordinator at the Mattress Factory, co-organizer Jennifer Baron loves the artistic sensibilities of the Northside, whether it’s the area museums or local artist spaces.

“Every year we have a number of artists from the Northside,” Baron said. “The Northside in and of itself is made up of many diverse neighborhoods. It’s nice to celebrate that.”

Jeff Brunner of Brighton Heights was a Handmade Arcade rookie last year and will return this year with his collection of original prints, which focus primarily on animals and other areas of interest that Brunner recalls from his childhood.

“It’s one of my favorites to do because there’s a terrific turnout and I love chatting with attendees to get their feedback and see how they respond to the work,” Brunner said. “The bulk of my creative time is spent alone in the studio, so those conversations are essential and are probably the best thing about showing publicly.”

Brunner was recognized as an “emerging artist” at the 2013 Three Rivers Art Festival and has seen his work displayed in several exhibits, including Craft Fair: SXSW Edition in Austin, Texas and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art’s @rt 30. He’ll also be participating in the Mattress Factory’s Winter Art Market Dec. 13-21.

“They’re good at what they do and I’m forever grateful to live in a city with folks who use their talents and time to make something like Handmade Arcade a reality,” Brunner said. “They’re kind and quick and on point. Rock stars all around.”

To check out Brunner’s work visit his website and social media platforms.

Unlike Brunner, this year will be Dave Pohl’s first Handmade Arcade experience, but the Spring Hill native is looking forward to working with so many talented artists.

“I’m excited to be a part of this fantastic event with such a diverse pool of talented Pittsburgh crafters, designers and artisans,” Pohl said.

A freelance illustrator, Pohl’s work will be featured on prints, cards and clothing that will be sold by House of Pingting.

His latest release is a portrait of Andy Warhol that was done with metallic silver inks. The design will be featured on black t-shirts and infant onesies.

You can see more of Pohl’s work on his personal website.

Other than supporting local artist, the show also focuses on upcycled or repurposed item.

Deborah Allen and her partner, Doug Schafer, of Central Northside take old Starbuck’s gift cards and vinyl records to create coasters.

“I can tell you how it got started and how we moved from gift cards to records… honestly, I’m running out of gift cards to work with,” Allen said. “I once had thousands.”

Currently, Allen and Schafer have an Etsy store featuring the Starbuck’s coasters.

Historic Deutschtown’s Artist Image Resource (AIR) has partnered with Handmade Arcade in the past, helping with the show’s Hands-on Arcade feature, which is a free to everyone in attendance. This year participants will learn how to screen-print using pennants.

Although there are vendors from across the nation, around 80 percent of the vendors are local, according to Baron.

The event itself is free and parking in Pittsburgh Parking Authority garages will also be free Saturday.

For more information about the event and for a full schedule and list of vendors visit the show’s official website.

Northside Chronicle Donation