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Local artisans to sell wares at East End Bazaar

If you go

What: East End Bazaar Open-Air Artisan Market

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays through October

Where: Corner of Washington Street East and Ruffner Avenue

Info: www.charlestoneastend.com

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Ian Bode has no idea whether his colorful graphic paintings will appeal to shoppers in an open-air market.

The Charleston artist is willing to take a chance.

The way he looks at it, participating in the East End Bazaar Open-Air Artisan Market is a great way to support East End Main Street and its efforts to revitalize the neighborhood.

Jewelry designer Mary Blake, meanwhile, is looking forward to meeting potential customers in person. She sells her unique beaded pieces that incorporate vintage beads, broaches and other elements, in an Etsy shop online. While she can converse with customers via email, Blake said telling her story in person is better.

"They're little pieces of history," she said of her jewelry.

Blake and Bode are two of eight artists and crafters who will be on hand Saturday for the grand opening of the bazaar, located at the northwest corner of Washington Street East and Ruffner Avenue.

The market will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays through October. Next year, plans call for opening the market every Saturday from April through the warm season.

The market's 10 stalls, created by piecing together donated wooden pallets and other recycled materials, are large enough for artisans to share space and Ned Savage, the market's manager, and Ric Cavender, executive director of East End Main Street, said they are open to that option.

In fact, Bode will be sharing a stall with Kelly Bryant, who is bringing colorful paintings and pastel drawings. This is her first foray into selling her artwork in a public way, though Bryant, a bartender at the Boulevard Tavern, has successfully sold some of her pieces at the tavern.  

Flexibility is the key to the operation. Savage said artisans, who are accepted through an application process, pay a flat $25 fee each Saturday they are at the market. Some may choose to set up tables just one Saturday a month or even less frequently, while others may wish to be there every Saturday.

The market is intended to have a festive air - the band Comparsa will play on Saturday and nearby Frutcake will sell food and drink. Dale Hawkins of Fish Hawk Acres will be on hand with produce from his farm and information about his community-supported agriculture program.

More than 1,300 volunteer hours went into building the market, which sits on property owned by the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority. Shawn Means of Habitat for Humanity supervised the construction process. Materials that had to be purchased were paid for by the Governor's Innovations Award given to East End Main Street earlier this year.

Next year, East End Main Street hopes to supply electricity and water to vendors.

Savage said requirements are pretty broadly drawn to encourage a variety of vendors. Vendors must be registered as a business with the state and be able to produce enough goods to meet customer demand.  

"It can be basically anything you make yourself, or something with value-added," Savage said. "One vendor takes old furniture and refurbishes it."

Some vendors have tailored their items to what they believe will appeal to customers. Artist Charly Hamilton, for example, sells his prints, paintings and colorful wooden cutouts for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

For the open-air market, though, he has created small, more affordable pieces.

Miranda Walker, a registered nurse by profession, is hopeful the market will be a good fit for a hobby turned side job - a line of candles, soaps and bath products. Walker, whose business is called Kountry Krow, said she has explored retail options, but believes the minimal financial commitment of the market is more appealing.

"My friends told me to start slow and build my inventory and clientele," she said.

Other artists who will be on hand Saturday include Sherri Walker with Eco-Beads, Sherrie Rhodes of the Appalachian Art Gallery, Karen Garnes of the Capitol Clay Arts Company, Wendy Clark of Wenweave and Mark Wolfe.

Market guidelines and the official vendor application are available at www.charlestoneastend.com.

Contact writer Monica Orosz at monica@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.


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