One of a Kind Show and Sale is taking up an entire floor of Merchandise Mart from December 6 through December 9. More than 600 artisans from all over North America are selling their hand-made goods. That means by the end of the weekend everyone on your holiday shopping list can be taken care of, all on one floor of one building.
I attended for a short time and was completely overwhelmed. It would have done me some good to commit the show floor plan to heart or to grab a show guide just outside the elevators on the 8th floor of Merchandise Mart.
There are many, many artists of all sorts displaying and selling their goods. One could easily take care of the shopping list by staying within a modest budget, or go all out with luxury goods (at luxurious prices). There is everything from cute tchotchkes to beautifully crafted wood furnishings, and everything else, too. If you think you’ve seen it all before, I promise you, you are wrong.
If, like me, you can only take so much visual stimulation at a time, know that all tickets are good for multiple entries on all the days of the show. I may return since I wasn’t organized enough to make my way to the gourmet gallery, which I’m sure has some things I would like for (myself or) my loved ones.
I wandered aimlessly, stopping at random booths that caught my eye. The artists were friendly (except for that one) and happy to answer questions about their techniques and materials. It is always amazing to me how people create such beautiful and unique things that are often also useful.
Just outside the easternmost elevators at booth 6118 is dconstruct. This is the kind of jewelry I love because it’s modern, funky, and fun.
Flying Anvil Designs [www.flyinganvildesigns.com] is at booth 8114. Artist Julie Jerman-Melka’s jewelry mixes smooth pebbles with precious and semi-precious stones such as topaz, amber, raw diamonds, and pearls to lovely result.
Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry uses a lot of copper with heat applications that produce an array of colors to make her traditional jewelry – cuff bracelets, drop earrings – and Venetian-style long-nose masks.
Yes, my eye was caught by things other than jewelry. Nell & Mary (booth 8069) from Portland, Oregon, make screen printed tea towels, pillow covers, and other home goods. In addition, Make It Good manufactures screen printed clothing and has an underwear-of-the-month club. Just when you thought you’d run out of gift ideas ….
Jonathan Spoons in booth 7030 has all manner of carved cherrywood kitchen utensils. Anything at this both would make an excellent host gift.
I fell in love with the purses at Arza Design Handbags at booth 8063. The purses, clutches, and all other form of handbags come in many colors as well as many functions. None of the bags performs only one function. For example, a large square purse can go over the shoulder for easy access to phone, keys, etc., and also function as a chic attaché case for important documents.
Kuketa at booth 9083 has an array of items with a stylized Chicago skyline including children’s tees, tea towels, aprons, trivets, and a gorgeous bamboo cutting board. There are also screen printed purses of various size and kitchen towels.
Paper Miniskirt by Kristi Pamperin can be found at booth 7068. The booth is full of magnetic photo boards, cleverly designed themed bulletin boards in various sizes. For example, the magnets on the vino-themed board are repurposed wine corks.
Stems Vases at booth 3030B are … vases. Sounds simple, and they are. Stems Vases are so simple that it really is a wonder that no one thought of it before now. The vases are made to easily display flowers or anything else you might want to feature.
The scarves, hats, pillow covers, shawls, and kilts (yes!) Lesley Armstrong of Armstrong Textiles creates are gorgeous. You can see a good selection of her woven wool goods at booth 2007.
Sourlis Glass Studio at booth 6030 has a variety of artglass including lamps and bowls, any of which would make a striking addition to your home. Or someone else’s; it is the holidays.
Spherescapes are photographic prints and canvases by fine art photographer Michael James Murray. The photos of New York and Chicago give credence to the opinion of many that there’s nothing outside these cities. Go to booth 8-3067 to see the whole world in Millennium Park.
Soaps and candles also make excellent host gifts. Candles and Suds at booth 4123A can help you. The products smell good, which is of utmost importance, and they look cute, which means no need to wrap.
This is just a small sample of what the One of a Kind Show and Sale has to offer. It has to be experienced on the 8th floor of Merchandise Mart through Sunday, December 9, 2012.