Vermont Artisans Bust Out Their Wares at Burlington City Arts’ Outdoor Holiday Market | Visual Art | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Artisans Bust Out Their Wares at Burlington City Arts’ Outdoor Holiday Market


Burlington City Arts' Holiday Artist Market in 2020 - COURTESY OF RENEE GREENLEE
  • Courtesy Of Renee Greenlee
  • Burlington City Arts' Holiday Artist Market in 2020

Holiday shopping can take a toll on the mind and soul. The brazen consumerism and high-key frenzies of Black Friday, Splurge Sunday and Cyber Monday (OK, the middle one is made up) can take the joy out of generosity.

Burlington City Arts' Holiday Artist Market might be the antidote for seasonal shoppers weary of the toxic, big-box bustle. For nearly 20 years, the annual arts-and-crafts fair has congregated a juried cohort of Vermont-based artisans. Consumers put their dollars directly into the hands of small-business owners and come away with unique pieces perfect for gifting.

Chosen by a rotating panel of artists, business owners and community members, the makers represent a vibrant cross-section of the Green Mountain State's creative sector. The market serves as a showcase for mostly up-and-comers.

"We're here for the artists," said BCA customer service assistant Jacquelyn O'Brien by phone. "We're here to support them and make it so that their work and the things they make are getting to the people in our community in an effective way."

The pandemic posed a huge challenge for the market in 2020. Traditionally an indoor event that for many years occupied Burlington City Hall Auditorium, it moved to City Hall Park because of pandemic-era restrictions on indoor gatherings. BCA outfitted vendors with custom-built structures supplied by makers at Generator, turning the downtown park into a quaint, European-style marketplace.

The market returns to the park this year on Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12, along with food and beverage vendors and live entertainment in City Hall.

Read on for a sample of this year's participating artists.

Barnes Made

Barnes Made soap - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Barnes Made soap

Most commercially processed soaps are technically detergents. As Barnes Made soap maker Kaity Flagg explained, glycerin, a viscous byproduct of soap making, is often removed from products lining the shelves at conventional stores.

Without glycerin, mass-processed "soap" is likely to dry you out.

"Having squeaky clean skin is not actually a good thing," Flagg commented.

She makes soap via saponification, or cold process. Fats such as avocado, coconut and olive oil are mixed with lye and cure for a month at room temperature. Then she adds trade secret scents to concoct her various products, many of which sport intriguing names such as Dragon's Blood, Over the Rainbow and Good Cheer.

Not into bar soap? Flagg makes candles, too.

Cedar Tree Pottery

Cedar Tree Pottery garlic grater plate - COURTESY OF ALLIE V. CLOYES
  • Courtesy Of Allie V. Cloyes
  • Cedar Tree Pottery garlic grater plate

Jessica LaBonte creates "use-specific" wares in her Jericho studio. One such item is her signature garlic grater plate. LaBonte explained its simple decadence: rub a clove of garlic across the plate's textured center, fill it up with olive oil, and go to town with your favorite loaf of crusty bread.

She works with ceramic stoneware, a nonporous material that's microwave and dishwasher safe. She paints her wares with a small range of boldly colored glazes — no more than five colors at a time, keeping a streamlined, cohesive palette.

"If one glaze comes in, one must go out," she wrote by email.

LaBonte also makes small colanders, travel mugs, sponge caddies and spoon-rest plates.

Edie & Glo

Edie & Glo makeup bags - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Edie & Glo makeup bags

Perusing Edie & Glo's apparel and accessories is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Designer Kelly Hickey sources colorful, pattern-rich vintage fabrics from textile collectors, social media marketplaces and thrift shops. She also takes pieces directly from customers who want her to work her magic on scraps and worn-out items, such as old bedsheets.

Her line includes makeup bags, summer skirts, bow ties and decorative pillows, all made from fabric and upholstery remnants. Aside from keeping prices affordable, a big part of Edie & Glo's ethos is education.

Hickey hopes her work sparks "conversations around reduce, reuse, recycle and provides an opportunity to help people understand the environmental injustices caused by overconsumption of textiles," she wrote by email. Custom work like hers keeps tattered textiles out of landfills.

GB Fused Glass

GB Fused Glass coaster set - COURTESY OF MARTIN BAUMANN
  • Courtesy Of Martin Baumann
  • GB Fused Glass coaster set

Gabriele Baumann discovered her love of glass after winning a raffle during the South End Art Hop. The prize was a six-week fused glass course at the Davis Studio.

"I did not even know what fused glass was," she confessed.

Unlike blown glass, fused glass designs are first created without heat. Flat sheets of special glass are cut into strips and shapes to the artist's taste. Then the designs are cooked in a kiln at around 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 24 hours — and that's just the first cycle. Some of Baumann's designs get fired four or five times.

GB Fused Glass boasts scads of brightly colored fused glass bowls, curved plates, glossy coasters, pinched votive candleholders and, for the holidays, an assortment of festive Christmas tree ornaments.

MTN GRL Studio

MTN GRL Studio shadow puppets - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • MTN GRL Studio shadow puppets

Vermont is a stormy place, and homes in remote locations such as Lincoln often lose power during a nor'easter or blizzard. Visual artist Zarabeth Duell explained that, during such blackouts, she would sometimes entertain her children with shadow puppets, which she constructed out of card stock and bamboo skewers.

As part of her offerings through MTN GRL Studio, Duell kicks her shadow-puppet game up a notch with precision laser-cut birch plywood. The eight-piece set includes a cadre of woodland critters: bear, owl, hedgehog, fox, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit and deer.

Duell also makes nature-inspired, Vermont-centric giclée prints — "just a fancy word for a high-quality inkjet print," she kidded. The special process creates copies that are as close to her original watercolor artwork as possible.

Hoping to grab an original painting? She sells those, too.

Olivia Stone Botanical

Olivia Stone Botanical earrings - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Olivia Stone Botanical earrings

Jewelry artist Olivia Stone's grandfather taught her how to identify and press flowers. Her designs infuse Vermont flora such as ferns, cosmos and daisies in resin, which are then crafted into delicate, botanical earrings.

Stone finds blossoms in nature and in her own garden.

"Growing, harvesting and pressing plants has become a great passion of mine," she enthused.

During summers, Stone works on the go. She keeps a large flower press in her car, traversing the state in search of the perfect blooms.

But not all flowers are destined for jewelry. She avoids large flowers because their high water content can generate mold during the two- to three-week pressing process.

A Revolutionary Press

A Revolutionary Press print - FILE: CALEB KENNA
  • File: Caleb Kenna
  • A Revolutionary Press print

You won't find much of an online presence for A Revolutionary Press. That's because its proprietor, New Haven printmaker John Vincent, doesn't want one. That makes a certain kind of sense, given the in-the-streets activism his nonprofit's prints promote. However, they can be found IRL at homegrown spots such as Burlington's Peace & Justice Center and Bristol's Art on Main.

A striking piece featured in Seven Days in 2107 puts the press' values front and center. A play on former president Donald Trump's infamous campaign slogan, "Make American Great Again," the piece makes an acrostic from the word "great": Give back stolen lands; Release all political prisoners; Eliminate oversees military bases; Atone for centuries of slavery; Take care of the common good.

Appropriately, A Revolutionary Press sources paper from the Peace Paper Project, a conscientious papermaker that uses recycled and repurposed materials, such as invasive aquatic plants and spent grain from breweries.

Correction, December 9, 2021: This story has been updated to reflect that A Revolutionary Press is a nonprofit organization.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Which Craft? | Vermont artisans bust out their wares at Burlington City Arts' outdoor holiday market"