Who, what, where, when and why?? These questions come naturally to visitors at the market. At my table in particular, the Who? comes up often as we have art tiles deeply etched with complex and beautiful Arabic calligraphy. “Who does this work?” While we work on the art together, “my husband does all of the calligraphy. It is all hand copied, as is the tradition, and he has been doing it for 20 years” is my answer. “Do you know what they say?” is a natural second question. “Yes, I do. We put a label on the back with that information.” I love speaking my not-so-perfect Arabic aloud as it always seems to delight the person asking the question. Each one of our art tiles has an explanation on the back. It is the added value that we offer ourselves and to our customers. The added personal interest to our process.
“What is this design?” Whether it is an Arabic sura, a Sanskrit mantra or the Greek word ICHTHUS, a Lamb or an IHS on a Christian piece – the What? question is another that I am always happy to answer. The first “What?” though, is quite often directed to the art itself. “What are they?” They – are art. To put on your wall. On a stand. To simply enjoy. Our designs are inspired by the ancients. Spiritual. Deeply personal. Each line and space between the lines, thoughtfully considered. But in the end – just art.
“Where?” In Maple Valley. Just over an hour south east of Seattle. Within 25 minutes of leaving the market I am on my tree lined country road homeward bound. Our studio is part of our home and while private we do also meet up at the local QFC or Starbucks with our “close to home” customers. Nothing like sitting down for a cup of coffee, transacting a sale, then doing my errands. Making the best of our chosen life style.
“When?” Is often asked as “when did you start doing this?” About 20 years ago.
“Why?” as in “How did you come to do this art?” There is a long story that could be inserted here. Let’s just say that “We lived the corporate life. Now this one. We like this one better”
So…What have you discovered?
Who?My husband Jeff and I. What?Handcraft decorative, display art tiles of inspiration and awareness.Where?In Maple Valley.When?We started nearly 20 years ago. (While we do have a website that you may access at any time, we are at the market 4-5 days a week). Why?Because we love what we do.
Soooo – I was sitting under my umbrella. Set up outside. Across the street from Victor Steinbrueck Park on Saturday and recalled a ditty I wrote several years ago. “I’ve been here before.” I said to myself. The drums had started beating, the juggler across the street was tossing a bowling ball, power saw and … well, i don’t know what the third thing was, perhaps a sword. Visitors were stopping at my table to ask if I could help them find their way…well…anywhere. A woman gasped in surprise as I explained that “We have quite a few coffee choices here. Where are you from?” Sirens, saxophones, a children’s choir, runners with flapping capes and numbers on their chests so they must have known their purpose. In the midst of it all – a bride and her groom. “What is going on here today?” a visitor asked me. “The sun’s out.” I said. “We’re warm.”
Cacophony – Redux
Head down, nose to the grind stone, make and sell as much as you can, while you can. Ships in, sun shining, days warm, crowds crushing, children screeching, dogs in strollers, babies on leashes, thieves running, ocarinas whistling, duck tours quacking, fire engines wailing, buskers singing; playing saws; unidentified instruments; mumbled lyrics. Where’s the 1st Starbucks? How far is it to the Space Needle? How do I get to the aquarium? SECURITY! How much is this? What is this? How do you make this? Can you take our picture? Where do they throw the fish? The weather is so much nicer here than what we expected. Is that Mount St. Helen’s? Mount Rainier? Is that the ocean? Where is there an ATM; Bank; Drug Store; Real Store; Mall? Do you take cards? American Express? Where’s the guy that was here last week? Will you be here tomorrow; next week; next month? Is this market here every day? What do you do when it rains? You got a cigarette? Light? Do you have to set up and tear down every day? Where’s there a good place to eat? clam chowder; seafood? Where’s Cutter’s; Ivars; The Crabpot? Wanna buy some batteries cheap? Police horse clip clops; drops a load or a river. Bride’s white satin swishes. Exuberance. Joy. Ice cold water 50 cents! Please Lord. I don’t wish him ill but perhaps the screaming water man could, well…. Child drops a cookie, no three second rule here. Mirror Man, Bronze Woman. Gold Man. Parrot. Tips for photos please. Hula hoops, ukes and digeridoos. Tips for listening please. They’re all handmade. My name is … I make these all myself. Real Change! They’re made out of deer antler. What’s with the pig? We make your name for you right here right now. My friend makes these. Do you make a living doing this? Where is the closest bathroom? Where’s Pike Place Market? You are here.
Kat Allen Symbols in Art Handcrafted Display Art Tiles of Inspiration and Awareness
As Valentines Day quickly approaches we all scramble to find just the right gift to give. We sometimes agonize over it wondering if we should or should not give a gift or flowers or a card. I always try to find something that is special and I always buy local so with that in mind I have put together a few suggestion of some amazing local artisans. The nice thing is you can get all of this at the Pike Place Market along with some beautiful flowers. This is just a small sample of some of the most amazing gifts you can find from over 250 local artisans at the Pike Place Market . You can also find suggestion on the Pike Place Market Pinterest page http://pinterest.com/pikeplacemarket/ . The Pike Place Market has everything you need so come shop local.
As a market vendor I have 7 years in experience observing the way men shop in the market. Being a guy my own approach to buying parallels that of many other men. In my own business we cultivate repeat business. If a gift works well for a guy, he will likely return to the store for further purchases. My wife and I make one of a kind pieces, so the retention of repeat customers is high.
Men generally shop with the swiftness of assassins. Of course, you will find indecisive specimen among us, but most of the time shopping keeps us from other activities, so it must happen quickly. We generally know what we are specifically looking for, so it is mostly seek and buy. Shopping as a recreation is not really a guy thing. Sometimes men are uncomfortable shopping in department stores or boutiques. Those types of stores are not necessarily environs where we feel at ease. The market is a uniquely laid back place where you can find a wide range of things in one place. It also allows people to meet the craftsperson or artist and make informed buys.
Growing up with an older sister, I have spent countless hours being dragged along while my mother and sister shopped endlessly from store to store. The market provides many stalls and fixed businesses that appeal to the average guy. We have several vendors that produce excellent woodwork. Their work ranges from hand wrought stools, cutting boards, boxes, long boards to cribbage boards. My friend Joseph of Swanfield Horn & Stone Craft makes obsidian knives with hand carved handles. If you’re in the market for more modern blades we also have Seattle Cutlery in the market. They sell specialty blades from kitchen to tactical knives.
Guys will always gravitate towards food offerings in the Pike Place Market. For years Don & Joe’s Meats have been my preferred butchers. They also have great frozen bones for your dogs, just ask. Tourists are always fascinated by the goings on at Pike Place Fish. We also have three more fishmongers in the market. As a former commercial fisherman, I prefer my fish not going airborne. Beecher’s Cheese is a great place to eat, but it is also fun to watch their cheese production in action. There are also several wine shops in the market. The deli Pear has a great selection of domestic craft beers and imports. They also carry wine and great foods to accompany those beverages. Countless specialty foods can be found throughout the market.
For the shopping weary guy the market provides many choices in bars and restaurants for a beer or cocktail. On warm days you can even find an outside spot to rest and have a drink. Several pubs and restaurants provide al fresco seating for patrons. I have directed many husbands to various watering holes in the market, while their wives continue their shopping.
For many men traveling on business, the market provides a great place to purchase anything from a tourist t-shirt to fine art. We are walking distance from many downtown hotels. We are often the last place for businessmen to shop before heading for the airport. Our location and diversity make it very guy friendly. They are in and out like trained assassins.
Every day we get the opportunity to set up and sell in the Pike Place Market. The market is such a unique place, where we get access to so many people coming and going. Some of our customers live in Seattle and others are just passing through. People come to Seattle for business, family, medical treatment and some just on a whim. One thing most have in common is that they have to come to the worlds famous Pike Place Market.
We have sold jewelry for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and we have met some amazing people over the years. But I never thought that making and selling our jewelry could have overwhelming impact on anyone’s life but I was wrong.
What is in a ring? A pretty gem stone some shiny silver put together in a way we think is unique. But one day a beautiful lady walked up to our table and picked up a ring and tried it on. We had a pleasant conversation and she walked off with her daughter. A little while later her husband came back and bought the ring for his wife telling us that she never buys any jewelry for herself and fell in love with the ring. He had thanked us for being nice to his wife because she was in town for cancer treatment . She looked frail but had such a light about her as she went about browsing.
The next day we got an email from her husband thanking us again for the beautiful ring and our interaction with his wife and family. We were touched by the email and thankful that we could make someone happy. A few months passed and we received another email early in the AM from her daughter, letting us know that her mother had passed away. Before she died she gave the ring to her daughter to wear as a memento. She thanked us again for the ring and our conversation. Every time I think about this family I cry and think about the profound impact a ring and a simple kind conversation can have on people.
We are fortunate to meet so many people with happy and sad stories. They all have an impact on our life as we have an impact on there’s.
We think about that day all the time and I had asked Alyssa if I could tell you this story. She told me that today is the one year anniversary of her mom Karla’s funeral and she would like me to share our story with you. This is a beautiful family and we are fortunate to call them friends now!
We welcome about 10 million visitors a year at Pike Place Market, many of them from other cities, states and countries. The Market is world famous and a must-see for anyone coming to Seattle.
Most people have heard about the fish-throwers, the original Starbucks, and the gum wall. But there’s so much more to experience.
So we were thrilled to read the Market’s write-up in the 2012 Washington State Visitors’ Guide, in which writer Rebekah Denn gives great pointers to other highlights – and shout-outs to several Pike Place Producers member businesses and supporters, including our friends the buskers.