Savvy Evanstonians know to go to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday for the freshest produce, gorgeous flowers, delicious breads and flavorful cheeses.
The setting is lovely for leisurely shopping, tasting, conversation, and people watching. But tucked away on the eastern border of the market is a row of artists and artisans selling creative, handmade gift items lovely enough to satisfy many items on any gift list.
Simple Grace Design is owned by Jenny Solomon. She designs a line of organic baby clothes, burp cloths, crib sheets, fabric toys, and carryall bags.
For years Ms. Solomon sewed and designed clothes for friends and family, and she finally decided to go into business last year.
Ms. Solomon sources most of her fabrics through fellow designers on Etsy. The fabric patterns are whimsical and fresh with a retro vibe, and the color palette is appropriate for boys and girls without falling back on stereotypical blue and pinks.
Ms. Solomon’s merchandise should delight babies and their parents, and the organic fabric is perfect for soft baby skin.
Creations by Colbert is a line of handmade jewelry designed by Anique Colbert (no relation to Stephen). Seeing her jewelry in person gives a sense of the rich-colored gemstones, delicate metal links and movement associated with each necklace and pair of earrings.
Each item is made exclusively by Anique, and she is also receptive to customizing a piece to custom-ers’ specifications, for those who may not see something that fits
Jay Anderson’s booth, JB Crafts, is surrounded by delicate and gorgeous Calder-inspired mobiles. The wind gently moves the mobiles as they sway in the breeze, a perfect addition to a terrace or patio roof. Mr. Anderson says he loves the movement of the finished mobiles, and describes it “as if they are dancing to slow music.” Mobiles need nothing beyond a secure attachment to a roof or beam and could be the perfect present for the friend or relative who seems to have everything.
Mr. Anderson began designing and making mobiles a couple of years ago when he quit smoking and needed to do something with his hands.
A good friend of his introduced him to wood metalworking. Mr. Anderson says he was originally motivated and inspired by his mother and her desire to have an aquarium full of fish. The exact size and type of aquarium his mom wanted was out of reach, but Mr. Anderson created a beautiful multi-level mobile of fish to replicate the ocean view she craved. The mobile was a hit, his mom was happy, and Mr. Anderson’s new career took off.
Eric Beauchamp, chief maker of Beau Bois Custom Creations, is a talented furniture maker and woodworker. His designs are as practical as they are lovely: smooth boxes, cutting boards, customized tables and more. Mr. Beauchamp’s designs beg to be touched – the wood is so smooth, it is hard to resist. Unique lightening-like accents on many pieces are interesting visual and tactile elements.
He especially enjoys making larger, customized pieces, the perfect element to brighten any room.
Dragonfruit Gallery, owned by Helen Pytlewicz and Gayle Novak, has been in business since 2006. A third partner handles the business side of the gallery, which they describe as “a collection of women’s art as unique and enticing as the dragon fruit itself.”
Both women are talented photographers and intrepid world travellers, an ideal combination to capture candid scenes and stunning natural settings. Their photos are available as note cards or matted and ready for framing. They also showcase other local women artists’ work, but the majority of what they sell
is their own. Ms. Pytlewicz and Ms. Novak’s next trip will be to Barcelona: Their fans can look forward to Gaudi-filled photographs before the end of the summer.
Kolorful Kidlets, owned by Sue Ellis, includes handmade baby and toddler clothing, crib quilts, and fanciful dog portraits. Each item is lovingly crafted and is sure to delight a toddler.
Soft, cuddly quilts are a perfect place to pose a baby and encourage tummy-time exercises.
These talented artisans – friends and neighbors all – display their work at the weekly downtown farmers’ market. Their wares will last a lot longer and create happy memories for the lucky recipients.
The market is located at the intersection of University Place and Oak Ave (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave) and is open every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Nov. 7.