, Salem, MA

November 29, 2012

Supporting the arts

Artisans' Holiday Marketplace raises money for Marblehead festival

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — MARBLEHEAD — The Artisans’ Holiday Marketplace, which will be held this weekend during the Marblehead Christmas Walk, should help visitors get ready for the Fourth of July.

That’s because this annual sale of jewelry, pottery and other handcrafted gifts is held to support the Marblehead Arts Festival, which takes place every year during Independence Day weekend.

“The festival is totally free, so it takes a lot of fundraising during the year,” said Nancy Fromson, who handles publicity for Marblehead Arts.

Other fundraising efforts include an art auction at the beginning of April and a capital campaign that makes direct appeals to everyone in Marblehead.

But this weekend, visitors can help out simply by focusing their attention on the items created by 22 artisans, which will be for sale upstairs in Abbot Hall.

“They’ll be selling jewelry, glass, fine arts, tapestry things, woven baskets, children’s clothing, scarves, purses and handmade things,” Fromson said.

The marketplace has been held for at least 10 years but never gets stale, according to organizer Kiki Taron Kinney.

“We strive to keep the Artisans’ Marketplace fresh and new,” Kinney said, “and not have the same artisans every year. For this year, we’ve got seven new artisans out of the 22.”

“We have a real range of items, with prices ranged for everybody,” she said. “We have a couple who do all-natural soap and body products, another person who does soy candles, and another who does stained-glass ornaments.”

Kinney is happy to point out that several of the new artisans are from Marblehead.

“We have a new potter from Marblehead, Robert Gerson,” she said. “We’ve got a new jeweler, Joyce Mayer Clark, from Marblehead. She has seed beads and gemstones incorporated into her necklaces. She’s known for doing these large bracelet cuffs; they’re real statement pieces.”

“Casey Rae Coleman — she does beautiful, fine drawings, very, very, very detailed,” Kinney said. “They’re reproductions in note-card form, with a lot of scenes from Marblehead.”

Kinney, who is also an artisan, is also from Marblehead, and she will have a new, fluid style of silver chain on display in Abbot Hall.

Because Marblehead doesn’t have a monopoly on talent, not all the new vendors will be local.

“We have a high-end furniture maker from Hanover; he does American traditional furniture, like in antique reproductions,” she said.

In addition to inviting new artisans every year, there is at least one vendor whom Kinney is always happy to bring back.

“Ursina Amsler will be there — an artist known for her beautiful, whimsical calendars,” she said. “A lot of people collect her calendars.”

The Artisans’ Marketplace will also help Marbleheaders look forward to summer by asking them to vote for a Marblehead Arts Festival logo. In July, the winner will be all over town on festival banners and in promotional materials.

“The voting starts on (Nov. 26) and goes through Dec. 15,” Fromson said. “The logo premiere is at the end of January.”

The identities of the competing logo artists, who must live in Essex County or belong to a local art association, are withheld until the winner is named.

In addition to the artisans, several local nonprofits will have items for sale in Abbot Hall this weekend, to raise money for their own projects.

“We’ll be having the Community of Friends, who will hand out stockings to fill for those in need,” Kinney said.

They will be joined by the Marblehead High School Honor Society, which will be selling note cards. On Saturday, Hospice of the North Shore will sell tickets to the Hillyer Festival Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Concert.

On Sunday, a men’s group from the Council on Aging will promote Red-Shirt Fridays, a nonpartisan effort to support American troops.

Throughout the weekend, Serendipity, an a cappella group from Marblehead High, will spread holiday cheer with a selection of songs.

The Artisans’ Marketplace is a regular feature of the summer festival, which board members first attempted to duplicate during the Christmas Walk in December 2000. That event was snowed out, but has since become a popular part of the holiday season.

“It’s been a long-standing thing that people look forward to,” Kinney said.

If you go

What: Artisans’ Holiday Marketplace

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Abbot Hall, 188 Washington St., Marblehead

To benefit: Marblehead Festival of Arts

More information: For a complete schedule of events at the Marblehead Christmas Walk, visit