Last Sunday I went to the International Village Gifts & Crafts Fair (September 18-19, 2010) and below are my top six favourite stalls. The mall complex, incorrectly but more popularly known as Tinseltown, is located at 88 West Pender Street, just west of Chinatown and two blocks away from Woodward’s. Many people know Tinseltown’s troubled past of struggling to fill the empty retail spaces.
People often speculate on why this mall has not thrived. Some say it’s the proximity to Main and Hastings while others point to the lack of density. I blame the architecture. Conceptually, the interior design of the complex may have been good; however, in actuality, the high ceilings, exposed concrete and metal beams create an airy but cold and uncomfortable space. Tinseltown is a dreary place, offering no respite from every footstep echo or from the colour gray.
But let’s look on the brighter side! There is some good news. In the last six months, I have noticed more people in and around the mall. The neighbourhood is filling up and people often walk through the mall as a short cut from West Pender to Keefer. The corner of Keefer and Abbott street is busy even on weekdays. This corner is quickly becoming a prime spot for people watching because it is situated at the intersection of Chinatown, Crosstown and the DTES, and on the borders of downtown and Gastown. If you haven’t been here for awhile, you must come visit soon. You’ll fit right in.
Let’s turn now to the gift and craft fair, one of the many initiatives of International Village to raise the profile of the mall. The fair was a surprise. The variety and quality of the handmade goods exceeded my expectations. I love colourful patterns, shiny baubles, hair clips, little bags with mushroom prints, felted things, pillows, food shaped to resemble sushi, and wonky puppets. Every single thing I just listed was available there. On that Sunday afternoon, stark, unforgiving Tinseltown was transformed in to a craft lovers fantasy.
This photo is taken at the Keefer street entrance. There were enough vendors to fill the entire main concourse but the mall still looks and feels vacant because of the exposed concrete and metal beams.
Here are my top 6 picks from the gift and craft fair:
1. Amrita Designs
This is the lovely Aya of Amrita Designs. I was enchanted by her felted forest with tiny bird business card holder. It was made by a person named Shima who makes goods as Him Creations. Aya and Shima will both be at the next Portobello West, a fashion and art market that is held monthly in Vancouver. You can reach Aya by email: amritadesigns AT hotmail DOT com.
2. Lemon Pie Handmades
3. Absolute Fluff Marshmallow Boutique
Absolute Fluff is owned by Pamela who is based in Richmond, BC. You can reach her by email: pamela AT absolutefluff DOT co. The above photo is made of rice crispy balls and fish-shaped jelly candy. I’m not sure if I would enjoy eating this combination of dessert and sweet but it is refreshing to see something different. The creativity lies in the presentation of something sweet in a form associated with savory food.
These are marshmallow bunched together as flowers. The centers are larger marshmallows dipped in yellow candy sprinkles. Again, I’m not sure I would relish eating this as I am not a fan of marshmallows, but I like the creativity behind it.
4. Spanish Fiesta
The creator of Spanish Fiesta is Pilarica Rodriguez. You can reach her by email: pilarich AT shaw DOT ca. Feathered hairbands and clip on flowers. Shiny ribbons and tear drop pearls. In general, I enjoy browsing through hair accessories and Pilarica’s stall was delightful. Unfortunately, most of her goods were already sold by the time I got there, but these pictures will give you an idea of her handicraft.
5. Gappy Grin Gifts Inc
Gappy Grin Gifts Inc. is based in Vancouver and operated by Alana Zook. Here she is surrounded by colorful neck pillows. The photo below are teeth shaped neck pillows for children. There is a pocket on the back for little kids to leave their tooth for the tooth fairy.
The Gappy Grins website has interesting tidbits on teeth such as:
Growing up in North America; Canada or The United States of America, you have probably heard about the generosity of the Tooth Fairy, but many children from Spanish speaking countries like Argentina grew up getting to know the Tooth Mouse as trader and keeper of lost teeth. As far as South Africa children would leave their lost tooth in a shoe next to their beds where the little Tooth Mouse would leave a gift in return for the precious pearly white.
via Gappy Grins Inc
Here is Terri Boschman of CityCreations holding up a felt corn puppet. She is based in downtown Vancouver and makes photo cards and puppets of various sizes. She also takes special orders. You can find more about Terri and her range of goods at CityCreations on Etsy. How can I do her little darlings justice? I think it’s best to let them speak for themselves.
These finger puppets would be perfect toys to put in gift bags for birthday or Halloween parties.
Don’t discount Tinseltown. Some of the fairs are full of good stuff.