Indie Artists Shine At New Holiday Maker Market

Alisha Brabham | December 14th, 2023

Indie Artists Shine At New Holiday Maker Market

Culture & Community  |  Downtown  |  Economic Development  |  MakeHaven  |  Arts & Culture  |  Ninth Square  |  Christmas



Top: Nancy Nearing of Nearing Polymer chats with customers. Bottom: Darcy Canales. MakeHaven's holiday market runs at 770 Chapel St. Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 23. J.R. Logan Photos. The fourth photo in the story is by reporter Alisha Brabham.   

The makers were busy at work, transforming 770 Chapel St. into a winter wonderland. At one end of the space, Darcy Canales straightened out a piece of custom signage he’d made to let people know the storefront was open. Around him, fellow makers bustled about, putting the final touches on Christmas trees and colorful strings of lights. Canales, who runs Swagarian Artistry, looked around optimistically.  

“People walk by the window a thousand times and don’t even know what it is until someone says ‘Come check it out,'” he said. 

That is just part of the scene at MakeHaven’s new holiday maker market, running Fridays through Sundays through December 23 at 770 Chapel St., in the former home of Pine & Iron. A collaboration among several of MakeHaven’s annual members and landlords Steve and Julie Bernblum, the pop-up offers a new opportunity for makers to exhibit and sell jewelry, glass arts, clay figurines, innovative tech gadgets, woodwork and more before the Christmas holiday. An upcoming “demo day” is scheduled for Sunday Dec. 17 from 3 to 6 p.m.   


The market, which transforms an open industrial space into a holiday wonderland.

In its first year, the market, organized largely by MakeHaven’s Small Business Support Coordinator Ellen Carson, has drawn a handful of MakeHaven’s 700-plus members. Inside the 770 Chapel St. space, artists have set up tables decorated with one-of-a-kind creations. Each artist has a unique personality and story to accompany why they’ve made something, and their excitement for it to be available for purchase is often palpable. 

Artists include members like Canales, a MakeHaven devotee who joined three years ago. In his third year as a member and facilitator, Canales comes to MakeHaven daily, and sees the space as a refuge that he described as his “peace” in a recent interview. Along his table on a recent Thursday were octopus fidget toys, spiral mushroom keychains, and Big Pun inspired decor. 

One thing was clear, he said: everything was meant to be touched, whether patrons purchased it or not. All of the designs had a creative, unique touch that people wouldn't see it somewhere else. For instance, a daunting sculpture of a spider was made chic with green and purple color. For Canales, the fun comes after he’s decided on an object to embellish by making it his with different textures and colors, or perhaps adding rhinestones. 

AaronM_ MakerMarketNearby, Aaron Monikowski’s table displayed steel picture frames he designed to resonate with animal lovers this holiday season. On one, for instance, the groove to insert a photo was a dog being embraced by its owner. Similar to Canales, Monikowski said that the workshop provides him the space and machinery to meet new friends and explore his curiosity. To the frames at the market, he has added custom sculptures formed by his own intuition and experimental nature.

“When it comes to the blacksmith stuff, it’s all done with a hammer. I will just start with a chunk of steel and see what happens,” he said.

When he first became a member in 2020, it gave him access to different tools he didn’t intend to explore. This ultimately led to an interest in metalwork, which he taught himself with help from fellow makers. 

Now, what starts out as a chunk of steel is guided by what he sees when making it, he said, describing the learning process as “slow and painful” and equally satisfying. Whether that’s a snake or a rocket ship, his joy is learning new ways to translate ideas in his mind into tangible works. After 10 years as a medical research scientist, he lists MakeHaven as the reason he switched careers and started his virtual reality company Glow Worm Ideas

Nearby, Linda Parsloe of Conway Design set out bowls and ornaments made of fused glass. After a successful career in production and graphic design, Parsloe chose the medium to further her creativity, and has loved joining the MakeHaven community. “I’ve found heaven,” she joked while setting up her table. While she originally joined for access to machinery, MakeHaven has introduced her to a community that shares the drive to have a second or third life after working in another career.


That sentiment is shared among members all year round, including those who aren’t exhibiting at the market. On a tour of MakeHaven's permanent space on Chapel Street, Monikowski proudly showed off MakeHaven’s bio lab, 3D printers, and wood shop, all available to members 24 hours a day, seven days a week for $50 a month. 

Parts of the space are reminiscent of the diverse and communal spirit of college: there’s a dedicated space where members enjoy brewing beer and a kitchen to prepare shared meals. More importantly, Monikowski highlighted the community formed through learning and craftsmanship. 

“We’re all from completely different walks of life but we all hang out,” he said. “We’ll go on walks together, we’ll make stuff together … the community is the best part.”