Holiday Market a hit with shoppers
Among items at the Alpine Heritage booth are handcrafted Austrian Nativity scenes that open like a chest. Above is a corner hutch with a glass-plated door that sells for $1,900.
Ivana Kelly, at Ivana's Igloo, wears one of her animal hoods with paw mittens at the bottom of the attached scarf.
Some of the booths at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square, which will be open seven days a week until Dec. 23.
Closeup of Soviet-era nesting doll at the European Folk Art booth.
A glass chicken hanging on a swing at The Glass Haus.
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If you're wandering through the inaugural Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square between now and Dec. 23, don't just admire the European-style chalet booths from a distance. Get up close, talk to the vendors, and you'll find a surprising array of original gift items from around the region and the world that are beautiful, fun and affordable.
The market, inspired by the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, is intended to extend the momentum of Light Up Night, said Ida D'Errico, who is producing the event for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. And if the weekend lines at the booths running five- to 10-people deep are any indication, it's working. Shoppers were snapping up offerings from Austria, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and Poland, along with things made right in this region, and having a fine time doing it.
They were also having their pictures taken in Santa's House with the jolly old man himself, for a donation of any amount to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The market features plenty of traditional holiday merchandise, from tree ornaments and painted eggs and to some amazingly intricate carved nativity scenes.
But there are also hilarious flying glass chickens, faux fur animal hats with attached paw-mittens, nesting matryoshka dolls from the Soviet era, handmade dolls and tiny Faberge-style egg pendants.
The pre-fab chalet booths with their steep pitched roofs were locally designed and built to be stored and reassembled for years to come; Ms. D'Errico said there's already talk of expanding the market next year.
The original idea for the Market Square set-up came from managers at PPG Place, she said. They had seen the 16-year-old German Market in Chicago that attracts enormous crowds each season and wanted to try something similar. Ms. D'Errico visited the Chicago market last year and recruited some of the vendors. Others signed on through various avenues. Peoples Gas came in as the main sponsor, with Colcom and Laurel foundations underwriting the chalets.
The Malone family of Cranberry -- mom Katie, daughters Mary, 14, and Maggie, 8, and son Bobby, 11 -- were taking advantage of the market on Monday afternoon. After ice skating and getting their picture taken with Santa, they moved off to check out the booths.
"It's a perfect day to be out here," said Katie Malone, adding that dinner Downtown would follow. That's the kind of synergy that the Downtown partnership was hoping for.
Some of the market offerings:
Ivana Kelly of Tahoe, Calif., is behind the counter at Ivana's Igloo. She designs the faux fur animal hoods -- bear, wolf, tiger, leopard, husky, raccoon, cat -- with mitten paws attached ($42) and was responsible for a number of cross-species shoppers stalking the square on Saturday. She also has soap and candle pin ornaments.
At Old German Christmas, Mario Hausdorfer has authentic hand-blown and painted glass ornaments of the style crafted by artisans in Germany for 150 years, along with figurines and collectible German smokers, nutcrackers and woodcrafts.
Alpine Heritage has traditional carved Austrian Nativity scenes that open like a chest of drawers, and smaller ones as well, along with Austrian country folk art, painted and hand-blown glass ornaments and Polish pottery and Faberge-style eggs.
David Wagman of Wagman Designs brought his original handmade jewelry -- earrings, necklaces and bracelets ranging from $10 to $40. That includes real maple leaves, copper-dipped and electroplated. He said he heard about the Holiday Market from a customer and decided to try it. So far, so good. "Pittsburgh girls go craaaazy for our stuff," he said.
The Glass Haus proprietor Bob Brown from Boston features work from five artists, two American and three European. Above his head hangs a riot of glass chickens swinging on trapezes ($55) and kitchen witches complete with warts, brooms and curling toes. Also for sale are hens, penguins and snowmen, all hand-blown. "They're great impulse items," he said. "We sold out of the pilot chickens and are flying more in now from Switzerland."
Euro Haus has Russian icon eggs ($10), matryoshka dolls ($20 and $40) and German Moravian stars, plus other Old World collectibles, tapestries, jewelry and scarves from Turkey, Russia and Austria.
At Little Europe by Palko, Pat Palko of Beaver County has been traveling through Eastern Europe since the Iron Curtain came down, buying handmade items from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and Russia for the family shop in Moon that closed in March. She's got handcrafted plates, eggs, wooden toys, jewelry and porcelain.
Style Truck's Jackee Ging of Scott carries items that are either made-in-the-USA or fair-traded from Nepal and India. She did a brisk business in knitted head wraps on Saturday -- "I sold six right off my head," she said -- and also has hats, mittens, capes ($140), scarves ($30) and felted wool wallets ($10).
Kimberly Kelley of Atlanta at Gorilla Dust Designs makes pendants out of resin-coated antique spoons, Scrabble tiles and dominos she collects from house sales and on eBay. The bracelets reverse to spell words.
Artel's Zachary Wolicki of Greensburg sells Faberge-style pendants and lockets made by Russian master jewelers, with sterling silver, 24-carat gold vermeil, fine Italian enamels, semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals. They range from $25 to $195 for a matryoshka locket with three nesting dolls.
European Folk Art vendor Witold Wenc has a wide array of collectibles from Poland, including handmade dolls, chess sets, wooden Santas, eggs and ornaments. He also has Soviet-era matryoshka dolls.
Adar & Mimi are a mother-daughter team from Pitttsburgh who make one-of-a-kind purses, custom embroidery, tutus and their own line of Snicklefritz clothing for children.
Linda Barnicott Art & Gifts features the many sites and holiday scenes she has been capturing around the Pittsburgh region for decades on post cards, plates, gift cards, ornaments and prints.
First Published November 28, 2012 12:00 am