There’s only one place to find a lampshade made of trailer reel filmstrips, handmade glass hot-air balloons, jewelry made from the keys of a typewriter and kissing balls that last until Easter.
Shoppers could find all these and more Saturday at the Saratoga Springs City Center, where the Saratoga Center for the Family was hosting its 38th annual Holiday Craft Marketplace. More than 100 crafters set up booths and thousands of curious shoppers roamed the floor of the center.
“The timing is utmost,” said Ann Wolpert, a center board member who has organized the event for years. “To have this on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, after Black Friday and on Small Business Saturday, has really helped. We’ve linked with restaurants this year, too, so people can see on the back of their ticket you can go downtown and get a percentage off your dinner. The idea is to really cooperate and make this a whole small business day. I mean, the crafter is really the epitome of small business.”
The annual event usually draws several thousand people. Last year, it brought in about $26,000 for the center, which provides abuse prevention programs, mental health services, victims’ advocacy and more to area families and individuals.
Vendors pay for the booth space, but get to keep all proceeds from their sales. Admission is $4. Wolpert said she hoped to raise $30,000 for the center this year.
The event’s biggest appeal is the wide array of talent it offers. Vendors come from all over the Northeast to sell one-of-a-kind products that range from pottery and stained glass to quilts, dolls and more. But they’re hardly your grandmother’s crafts.
“The skill has really gone up,” said Wolpert. “I’ve been to craft shows back in the day where they have these little knitted things and crocheted items. But like everything else in modern society, I think it’s become advanced. These people are unbelievably skilled. It’s not stuff that just anybody could do. We have one booth of spun cotton ornaments that is unbelievable.”
One Hudson Valley artist’s work was a head turner. Erica Klein sells lampshades that she has covered with filmstrips. Her inspiration came from a time she was tasked with creating a dress from film for a recycled fashion show. She used leftover trailer reel filmstrips on lampshades so that when lit, someone can stop and look over each of the many images.
There were entire booths dedicated solely to holiday crafts, giving people extra incentive to peruse the floor. Many walked out with Christmas trees, wreaths and ornaments.
“We have some unique stuff,” said Wolpert. “We have a papier-mâché artist that crafts entirely handmade stuff, and she uses recyclable items inside like a bottle to papier-mâché around. We have the best kissing balls. I have shopped and never found a kissing ball for $30 that is perfectly round and so packed with fresh greens that it lasts until Easter every year.”