By Jordyn Timpson
Mason Times staff writer
The smell of doughnuts lingered in the air this weekend at The Open Market’s last event for the year, Doing Good with Donuts. The second-annual event was held at The Cobblestone Events Center at 205 Mason St., on Oct. 8-9, featuring an array of craft booths, as well as a drive for the Hats, Wraps and Mittens fundraiser. Hats, Wraps and Mittens aims to raise winter clothing for Lansing-area residents by asking shoppers to donate handmade, new or gently used winter accessories.
Vendor relations and harvest director for the market, Beth Barnes-Young said The Open Market is working with Volunteers of America, but want to be able to give to more than one organization in Ingham County.
“We’re hoping to raise 1,000 pieces. Last year, we didn’t come close to reaching our goal and we want to change that this year,” Barnes-Young said.
Barnes-Young started The Open Market with her two sisters and said they always wanted to make sure their business provided two things: access to a market for micro businesses and a give-back element.
Both goals were achieved this weekend when the marketplace featured crafters from all over the Mason area participating to showcase their crafts and support the fundraiser. Crafts such as all-natural skin products, beeswax candles, jewelry and woven baskets were just a few of the many products sold at the booths. Along with free doughnuts, the market offered a knitting workshop for shoppers eager to learn a new hobby.
Among the selection of unique crafts, natural fiber artist Deborah Cholewicki specializes in one-of-a-kind sculptural weavings and basketry. On display were smaller, decorative baskets with yarns and copper weaved in, as well as animal horns.
“I’m always on the lookout for anything to weave. I found this horn in California and thought I could use it for something, so I bought a few,” Cholewicki said. “I find materials all across the country, but I pick a lot the stuff too.”
A 15-year veteran at the art, Cholewicki devotes most of her time to creating large, 3-D wall hangings that were not on display at the market. She spends an average of 15 hours on smaller baskets, whereas a large wall hanging could take months to finish.
“I soak the basket materials for days, then let the basket take its own shape; it has a life of its own,” Cholewicki said. “People use the baskets as decoration or to put dry flowers in, but I’ve also had a professional photographer use them to take pictures of newborn babies.”
Cholewicki, who also manages the Grove Gallery Co-op in East Lansing, said this was her first time showcasing at the market. This wasn’t uncommon, as it was many vendors first time.
“We get to meet so many different creative and artistic people, and a lot of entrepreneurs,” Barnes-Young said, “it’s like meeting a bunch of new friends.”
This was also the first time for Ken Siemon and Dennis Kocsis of The Soap Sisters. Started by their wives three years ago, The Soap Sisters offers a variety of soaps, lotions, deodorants and balms made from natural products. Siemon said the company focuses on using products that are healthy for the skin, unlike most commercial cleansers and lotions.
“Our most popular item would probably be our coffee nut soap, which we make using coffee grounds because they’re a good exfoliate. Also good for the skin is hemp oil, which we use in a lot of our products,” Siemon said.
Siemon said The Soap Sisters are about a month away from launching their webpage and hope in the future to run a newsletter focusing on how people can live healthy lifestyles.
Donations for Hats, Wraps and Mittens are ongoing until the day-long event “Warm-a-rama” on Jan. 13. “Warm-a-rama” will take place at Country Stitches at 2200 Coolidge Road in East Lansing, where crafters are invited to bring winter items they’ve knit or collected.
“It’s going to be a full day of knitting, sewing and crocheting. Everyone is welcome, even if you’re not a crafter,” Barnes-Young said.
The next open market won’t be until summer with the “A Salute to Pie” event on July 28 and 29. Those interested in donations or participating in the next market can find all the information on The Open Market website.