Om Sweet Om

Om - That energy that resonates through everything and everyone.

“Symbols in Art”. That’s who we are. What we make. Art tiles reflecting Christian, Judaic, Buddhist, Islamic and Hindu images. Researching heavily before beginning our drawing – the first step of any new piece. Some of our art tile designs are easily recognizable. Others more obscure. “Pick it up and take a look” I say to the curious. “They have a label on the back describing the image”.

“What is this symbol?” a visitor asks. I explain that it’s said to be the first sound of the universe or some people refer to it as the yoga symbol.  Aaahh – whoo – umm-  Once I sound out the syllable, the person instantly recognizes it but still knows little of its origin or meaning. It is written in Sanskrit, the classical language of Hinduism. Sanskrit – The oldest language in the world.

The label on the back of our “Om” art tile reads simply::
Charged with religious energy, this most sacred of Sanskrit syllables is often articulated at beginning and end of recitations and prayers. Early noted evidence of AUM (Om) use occurs in the Hindu text Rgveda, and dates in practice to at least 1200 BCE.

An utterance evoking peace and meditation.  Ahh-whoo-ummm-  ending with a humming sound and then silence.  The silence is important and counts as the fourth sound of the syllable.  It is necessary to be aware of stillness.  The focus is on the vibration and then the silence and stillness between the chants of ahh-who-ummm.

The Om, in Hindu belief, is in use daily. Hindus begin their day, work or any journey by uttering and chanting Om.  In some cases a newborn child is washed, then the sacred syllable is written on their tongue in honey. It is not a word but rather an intonation and like music, with proper intonation, can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the center of one’s being. The past, present and future are all included in this one sound.

This is certainly a “nutshell” version of what Om is. The depth and breadth of this syllable is awe inspiring and will take a great deal of meditation to more deeply understand and to feel even a portion of the power that it contains.

A young child bought our Om art tile as a birthday gift for his mother who was turning 35. I can now hardly look at the Sanskrit writing of the Om without seeing the 35 that the child saw.

“Om is where the heart is.” – Kat Allen ~ Symbols in Art
Art Tiles available on line or at our table at Pike Place Market.

Dog Friendly Pike Place Market

At Pike Place Market all dogs are welcome to bring their well mannered owners to come and shop.

We are all busy with work, friends and family so it is nice to be able to spend some time with our four-legged friends. With a limited number of hours in the day and so many tasks at hand with shopping for groceries and that special gift needed, our best friends tend to spend more time alone at home than with us. So it is nice to be able to have a place where you can do it all with your best friend at your side.

Along with shopping for everything you need the Market has some special things just for your four-legged companions.

Adventure Days Dog Treats, by Melody Price,  is your source for locally made, all natural, hand crafted dog treats and rope toys. They are most delicious dog treats made with human grade ingredients so you know you are giving your dog the best!

As a vendor on the craft line it is always nice to see the happy dog faces as they stroll along the North Arcade So the next time you need to get a special hand crafted gift for yourself or a friend or want to pick up some fresh produce don’t forget to bring along your very best friend.

Check out some of our four-legged market friends:

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by Kristeena and Ron Sabando, Sabando Design

Numbers, names and a curious map

What do the US Senate, most American police departments and the Pike Place Market crafts line have in common? They employ a roll call at the start of business and as a basis for their activities.

The crafters’ roll call happens every day the Market is open and its function is much more than recording who is present. It’s how we get our selling space for the day and is why the crafts vendors most likely are not in the same place you last saw them, and why we can’t tell you where we’ll be next time you’re at the Market – we don’t know ourselves until that very morning!

If you’ve been to the Market early-ish and seen a crowd of people at the north end of the North Arcade, milling about expectantly and calling out seemingly random numbers in answer to names, then you’ve seen roll call.

On that north-most wall there’s a large whiteboard with a somewhat inaccurate map of all the Market daystall spaces – how they managed to draw it with century-old building features, such as columns, in completely the wrong locations is an ongoing subject of speculation!

The board

Each space is numbered and there are Second and Third Sections, north of Rachel the Pig and opposite the Chukar Cherries stand respectively, though no First Section is marked. There is the Desimone Bridge, the Dogleg and Slabs. Mario’s is drawn on the map by hand as it’s officially temporary. Also on the map are the Wet Side, Dry Side, Outside Slabs and Circle, and often added by hand in the summer is the Street.

So we assemble each morning, right now at 9.30am every day but Sunday, which is 10am. From April through the rest of the year it will be 9am daily. A hand bell is rung, an innovation in the last couple of years – often invited VIP guests do the ringing – and the Market Master for the day starts with “Anyone calling under 35?”

That’s a seniority number (for an explanation of seniority, see a previous post here) and the most senior have already reserved their usual spot by writing their number into the relevant space on the board. The rest of us have signed next to our names on a clipboard and must wait to be called to choose our space. As they move down the list the Market Master checks off our names, which ensures they’ll record our attendance and that we’ll be billed rent for that day.

Marking the board

“Allen,” says the Market Master. “Four on the bridge,” says Kat, of Symbols in Art. Her answer will soon change to “Two in the circle” because she likes to set up outside when the weather warms up.

The Market Master continues down the list and the board fills with seniority numbers on the spaces. There’s a list of vendors above the board, so you can see which name goes with which number, and their product.

There are some rules to follow, and a lot of etiquette: don’t set up too close to a vendor with the same type of product as you, don’t ‘squeeze’ someone by taking a space next to them if there’s lots of room that day (near-neighbors share a vacant space between them, and extra space means a bigger, better display and potentially better sales). In choosing spaces we also, of course, consider personalities. Who will be a good neighbor? It helps the day go well if you’re next to friends, or at least friendly vendors.

A short while later the Market Master says “Pass up the third sheet,” meaning  the last of the clipboards on which we sign in, and I know my turn is coming. “Roscoe,” says the Market Master. “Calling,” I say, because that day I’m ‘doubling’.

First, second and third sheet

Many vendors do this to make it easier and more economical to run our businesses. It means running two booths next to each other. In my case I trade off a day with my studio partner Lynn of PingiHats each week. I sell for her, she sells for me, which gives us more precious studio time. But under the Market rules I’m not allowed to pick our spaces until her name is called (my seniority number is 156, she’s 167.).

Sometimes as the Market Master gets to the newest vendors on the list the anxiety level rises noticeably and you’ll hear “Will I get in?” Unfortunately there are fewer spaces than crafts vendors. In spring the availability of crafts spaces diminishes as the number of flower vendors in the daystalls flourishes (they get precedence for a large swathe of spots, and each vendor gets double the minimum space we’re allotted).

A high-demand day like Saturday, plus lots of flowers, plus bad weather usually means the indoor crafts spots are oversubscribed, and sometimes a few – sometimes many – crafts vendors end up being shut out. It’s tough having to go home. As the weather improves into summer, and the outside spaces and the street are utilized, even the newest vendors are usually able to get a space.

Second section spaces

Roll call concludes with the Market Master asking if anyone wants to move – and we roll our eyes when that sometimes turns into a domino effect, with one shift leading to another and another. About half an hour after the bell, roll call is officially concluded when the time is written on the board, and we all take off to set up our booths for another day vending at Pike Place Market.

by Emma Roscoe, Red Delicious Bags

So – What’s for lunch today?

Noon. Pike Place Market. Daystalls in the North Arcade. Our displays are set up. The first sales of the day have hopefully been made.  Turning to one another as if on cue we ask “So – What are you having for lunch?”  I meant to make my lunch today.  Did you see what soups are at Pear? Michou? Anyone want to go in on a pizza? I’m going to the Pasta Bar.  Japanese Gourmet Agedashi Tofu.  Turkish Delite Lentil Soup.  Saffron Spice Chicken Masala.  Grilled Beef Salad at Mr. D’s. Sabra, Pike Place Chowder. Mexican Grocery. Mee Sum Pork Skewer with Pineapple….

Endless choices.

The Proper Michou Stance - Bend at the waist to look into the case.

Yes. That’s it. That’s the pose you take when you walk into Michou .  Bend at the waist and gaze up and down the glass case at imaginative and colorful salads and sandwiches. They’ll grill the sandwiches for you, Preferred. Three soup choices.  I’m fond of the shrimp bisque. A fellow artist walks in. “What are you having?” hmmm. “Roasted Brussels Sprouts and the Roasted Winter Vegetables”.  Don’t let the plain names fool you. Feta Cheese, nuts, berries, fresh herbs and produce from the market make them sing.

Jasmine Thai-Moroccan Restaurant in Post Alley is my go-to for a big lunch and sometimes an easy take home for dinner. I walk up and they now tell me what I want – “Basil Chicken, No Rice, Spicy” They can go a little crazy on the spice once they find out you’re game so – be honest. I have spent many a lunch with beads of sweat on my forehead. But loving every bite.  They’re generous with extra veggies if you don’t do carbs.  I especially enjoy watching them as they work in tandem behind the counter. Pans and ladles fly. Flames flare. Busy chattering. And always a smile. Oohh. Try the Jasmine Salad. Oh. Yes.

Oprah blessed Beecher’s with the “Best Mac and Cheese” title. I love Beecher’s for its Tomato Bisque. “Yes, I would like that generous scoop of Beecher’s Flagship Cheese on top”.  “No. Please hold the croutons for me”.   And yes. The cheese goes all melty in the soup.

Local Color is truly a local coffee shop owned by Frank and Sydne who treat you like family. That attitude trickles down to their staff and spreads out to the regulars who perch on chairs around the cafe tables on a cold day or relax in the back on soft couches. My favorite lunch here is their Curry Chicken Wrap. The Veggie Wrap is also a nice choice with the lovely sweetness of yam balancing the slightly bitter kale. Ask them to grill it for you. Easy to grab and go.

Le Panier is perfect for a mini baguette to eat with the cheese you’ve purchased from Mt. Townsend Cheese. Newly opened near Rachel the Pig.

Endless choices.  We even have a microwave tucked away just for use by the DayStall Community so that we can warm the lunches that we bring from home.  Many of them prepared with produce and meats that we purchase from the Pike Place Market stalls.

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We, the artists and craftspeople of Pike Place Market like our food tasty, fast and affordable. A cloth is thrown over our table to cover our display while we scurry away to find lunch. Then back we come to sit behind our table, many of us continuing to work our business while we eat. Not the most polite perhaps. But certainly the most practical for us.  Kat Allen – Symbols in Art

Thank you to Kristeena Sabando, Keri DeAguero and Ann Dunlap-Brown for their photo contributions to this blog post.

Handmade Goes High Tech

When people think of handmade crafts, they often imagine an old world workshop with hand tools, candlelight, gypsy fiddle music and a decided lack of modern technology.  I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth, dear reader.  The crafts community at Pike Place Market takes advantage of any and all modern improvements we have at our disposal to help us make our living.  After all, we do our work in the land of Boeing, Microsoft and Nintendo: it’d be anti-Seattle not to.  To wit, here’s a small example of the technology I employ every day in the running of my hat business:


I have a MacBook Air laptop that I chose for its portability.  I can take it from home to studio to the Market with ease as it is small but powerful, not unlike its owner!  I also employ a Wacom Cintiq tablet that lives at the studio as my main drawing platform.  I worked sixty hour weeks this past holiday season to afford to add this amazing piece of tech to my business arsenal and do not regret that decision for a moment.  It has revolutionized my ability to create textile prints, advertisements and to make my website photos truly professional grade.  I’m in the middle of a big revamp of the hoodie portion of my website and, without these two computers, I’d be spending three times the amount of hours on the project with results I like less than half as much.  I also have a scanner and a high quality photo printer that I share with my studio mate and fellow Pike Place Producer Emma Roscoe of Red Delicious Bags. Additionally, we have a Clearwire portable wifi hub that we use for internet access at our studio or at the Market so we can get some online work done between helping customers.

And speaking of helping customers, I also use some pretty sweet technology to allow Pike Place Market visitors to have safe and easy credit or debit transaction at my daystall.  I hook up a Square device to my iPhone that allows me to run credit cards which my customers sign with a stylus on the screen and then have a receipt instantly texted or emailed to the cell phone number or email address of their choosing.  It’s convenient, safe and works at the Market or at any craft show where I have either wifi or cell signal.  Best of all, it makes me feel like I’ve got a tricorder from Star Trek!

Here’s an example of how much amazing modern tech takes prepping photos for my website to the next level.  On the left, you can see an image pulled directly from my digital SLR camera, another fine piece of high tech that helps me run my business.  The backdrop and lighting that photographer Kelsey Kruger supplied is quite in evidence due to the cramped quarters of our small studio space. On the right, you can see the final image that will be up shortly on my website.  Using Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq tablet, I was able to remove the background and then color correct the image so that my online customer will be able to see exactly what color the hoodie he or she orders will be when it arrives in the mail.  Some surprises in life are fun, but not when you’ve paid to ship them to you!

And speaking of websites, the new cloud computing technology has really revolutionized the way that small businesses like mine are able to create and maintain web commerce sites with a minimum of expense and hair pulling. Services like Shopify or Core Commerce provide templates, secure shopping carts, SKU numbers, stock tracking and data storage for a very reasonable monthly fee.  With little to no knowledge of HTML, a craftsperson can create a truly professional grade website in a fraction of the time it would have taken to code their own site from scratch. When you have to design, create, sell, market and account for your product, the last thing you have time to do is become an expert coder.

Once you’ve got that website up, it needs viewers!  Thanks to social media like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, getting folks to check out the website gets much easier (and less expensive) than using traditional advertising.  Even sites like WordPress, which Pike Place Producers uses to create this blog, make reaching out from our small community of craftspeople to the world at large possible and affordable.  And, using a smartphone or a laptop or tablet plus a portable wifi hub, we can create or update online content during quiet moments at the Market.  You can meet the producer either in person or virtually nowadays.

Lynn Rosskamp