The year was 2009. I was a stay-at-home mom to an adorable, kissable, cuter than cute bouncing baby boy, and Etsy was in its heyday. Far far away, on the IU campus, three young women started something big – the Bloomington Handmade Market. No one can really tell me who or where the idea first started, but thanks to the sort of underground art scene that was created in part by art collectives like the Art Hospital and Paper Crane, Mia Beach, Sally Harless, and Nicole Buckenwolf met. Sally and Mia were both working as professional artists, and students at the time: Sally, a printmaker, Mia a photographer. Nicole knew that her calling in life, at least partly, was to help artists and promote them locally, and beyond. And so, after a few conversations at shows at the Art Hospital, it was decided that the first Bloomington Handmade Market would take place at the end of November at the Waldron.
Thanks to Etsy and Sally reaching out to local artists to take part in the market, I was able to become part of this movement pretty early on;) I can remember that first show like it was yesterday. Hauling loads of heavy books up flights of stairs at the Waldron, fighting the sunlight coming through those windows throughout the day, nursing a four-month old on and off throughout the show – and for the first time in my life, selling something that I made, in person, to complete strangers. It was both exhilarating and the scariest thing ever!
In 2010, these strong artistic women decided to do it again. Only, they had outgrown the Waldron, and moved down the street to what was KRC Catering and what is now Campus Costume. And, they made this one a spring show, with the intention of hosting TWO shows per year!
Again, I took part in this show as a vendor, and continued to meet amazing artists and makers and ultimately my best friends. Nicole was going back to school soon, Mia was about to have her third baby, and the trio was looking for some additional help in organizing the market, so they brought on another artist from the group for the next show, which was set to be the following fall, at the Convention Center (having also grown out of the KRC venue).
So it was, in the winter of 2010 BHM moved to its final home of the Monroe Convention Center for the Holiday Show. It was after this show that I came on as an official organizer as Mia and Nicole left the market in mine and Sally’s hands. As the years have continued, Sally has moved on to St Louis and I’ve had amazing help along the way in continuing the amazing event that Mia, Sally, and Nicole created. Many things have changed over the years – MANY – but one thing remains the same: we have the best group of makers anyone could ever ask for, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it!
This year we celebrate 10 years of handmade. TEN WHOLE YEARS! We re-branded in the summer, and we’re stronger than ever! Looking back to see where we’ve all come from, and where we all still have to go – is just amazing. Watching these artists (and their babies and their families) grow over the years has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I cherish each and every one of them – and each time I welcome a new BHM vendor into the fold, I just know it’s going to be a lifetime friendship.
Watching Jeremy grow into a master leather maker . . . but even a more masterful father.
We were Liz’s first craft show – and i will never forget what that meant to her and her business, and getting to watch her business build over the years has been about as amazing as having her as my craft show wife year after year.
Watching Tracy and Dean over the years; Tracy’s illustrations blossoming over her ceramics like magic, and Dean’s dad jokes getting better and better each year.
Miss Sally – one of our founding mothers. Her work has matured from hand-drawings on mugs (my favorite) into amazing 3-dimensional shadow boxes and most recently, laser cut pendants (also my favorite!).
Perhaps the most amazing story of all is watching Candice and her family expand with Andy and now baby Emerson; having seen each other only a few times each year for events such as this, and growing that Love until it finally came to its fruition. It’s our very own BHM Love story!
Lady Boss Martha herself; watching her expand from scrabble tile pendants (on that same pear table cloth!) to a complete line (and ever-growing) of t-shirts – and now into her own brick and mortar with her beautiful daughter Scout, and husband Mark.
Nicole was at our very first market as a very young art teacher peddling her rainbow crayons – she’s since grown that business leaps and bounds, her rainbow crayons in the hands of Tori Spelling (and friends) and on the pages of national magazines – and we’ve watched her get married and have two wee babies!
Miss Christie Cooper – first with us in 2010 with Pedal Power, now an ever-popular potter with her little beasties that she can’t keep in stock!
Watching Jessica’s paper art business grow leaps and bounds through grant programs and public art projects, and seeing her family grow at the same time.
JD (and Bruce) we’ve watched grow through a few business iterations and two babies. Their relationship is always a rock and watching them be by each other’s sides is inspirational. JD now owns her own store in Greencastle and her involvement in politics has shown us what is worth fighting for.
And last but not least, my own growth – from my very first booth at BHM in 2009 when Griffin was only 4 months old and I was binding books on my dining room table and selling work on Etsy – to now; Griffin is 9 and my work can be found in over 75 boutiques, gift stores, museum stores, and galleries across the US. Man . . . it HAS been a journey! Here’s to 10 more years!
I fast forwarded through a little history of BHM – but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank profusely the team that has made up BHM for the better part of those 10 years: Sally Harless, Mia Beach, Nicole Buckenwolf, Jaime Minor, Marc Tschida, Chelsea Jones, Jackie Howard, Bethany Lumsdaine, Allyson Triplett, not to mention the well over 500 makers we’ve seen throughout the years, and all the friends and customers we’ve had along the way. Our sponsors that have helped us through the years; WFHB, Loren Wood, Rainbow Bakery and Hopscotch Coffee, DBI and BEAD, Friends of Art Bookstore, Atlas, AZ Vintage . . . the list goes on and on. Without your support this wouldn’t be possible.
I always say each year is like a family reunion for me – getting to catch back up with makers we might only see once or twice a year. Seeing how their work has grown, and how they have grown. We stick together, and that what makes us family, and what makes us pretty darn special if you ask me.
Happy 10 years Bloomington Handmade Market!