Every Saturday and Sunday thousands of locals and visitors, many with their kids and dogs in tow, mill about Capitol Hill’s flea market on 7th St. SE between North Carolina and Pennsylvania Ave SE, outside Eastern Market, searching for that special something to take home. Artisans of all kinds, vendors of goods from far-off lands, food purveyors and more, offer their wares. Over 75 tables under canopied tents offer a plethora of sights, smells and tastes. This is Capitol Hill’s outdoor shopping/meeting/eating place. Peruse, ponder, and plunge right in.
What could be more special than a custom made bow tie for the man in your life? Stitched by machine and finished by hand, Cameron Mackail selects whimsical fabrics to create her colorful collection of ties. Fully adjustable, tie it once and pop it off and on without ever having to retie it again. A freelance graphic designer, she stumbled upon bow ties when she made a super hero bow tie for her boyfriend. Mackail loved the process of sewing and branched out to designing her own fabrics. Her company, Cambo3 features “handmade hassle-free quirky bow ties”. Mackail can custom design ties for weddings, graduation gifts, corporate events and in 2018 look for sateen and silk in her new designs.
For the “dapper gentleman”, there are handcrafted, eye-catching bowties from designer, Kenneth Morris of Legendary Bowties, new to Eastern Market craft vendors this year. A daily wearer of bowties, he decided to make them, buying a sewing machine and mastering every step. Morris recycles fine quality men’s neckties and repurposes these into elegant and dressy bowties using eight different shapes.The batwing shape, for example, looks like a long rectangle strip with flat ends when untied.
Ladies of all ages line up at jewelry designer, Enise’s table to buy bracelets, necklaces and earrings, delicate, sparkling and often opulent. Combining semiprecious stones, pearls, 18k gold and silver into one of a kind combinations, Enise, a Hill resident, has been creating jewelry as art since 1999. She explains, “Each piece of jewelry is as individual as the woman who wears it.” If you want to find elegant accessory pieces for everyday wear or special occasions, stop by and see Enise.
Another magnet for the female shoppers is Mildred Baldwin’s Fine Arts and Crafts booth. One of a kind, handcrafted bags, pouches, backpacks, and keychains are crafted and sewn from natural mud cloths, Italian leather, Kuba cloth from the Congo and embellished with authentic beads, gems, stones and shells. Baldwin fell in love with fabric and sewing as young girl and worked in a leather shop in North Carolina making handbags, belts and hats. All one of a kind pieces, Baldwin signs and dates her “art objects” and guarantees the highest level of craftsmanship.
Anything related to babies solicits oohs and ahhs but Yinibini Baby clothing also deserves applause for being voted first place by Washington City Paper in 2016 and second place in 2017 as the Best of DC for handmade children’s products. The creator and seamstress, Sonyini draws animals and screen prints owlets, koala bears, and foxes on baby t-shirts, bandanas and bibs. Her inspiration comes from her childhood memories of Guyana, South Africa (homeplace to her mom, aunts and uncles). She uses US grown organic cotton fabrics, cotton blends and non-toxic, water based permanent inks which are safe for babies. Her most popular item is a two-piece gift set, called Welcome to Washington, featuring the DC stars and stripes on a onesie and bib.
Sola Ope of Scarvelous crochets rapidly without looking at her hands. She makes all the wool hats and scarves herself and has been at it since she was five. Growing up in England, knitting was taught to kindergarten children, both boys and girls! Sola made her first pair of socks at the age of six. Making sweaters for co-workers a few years ago led her to knitting and crocheting full time to earn her living and then she branched out into sewing vinyl lined, washable and wipeable small travel bags and zippered clutches in a myriad of colors and patterns including authentic wax print fabrics from Nigeria. She sells at Eastern Market weekends and it is guaranteed, you will find her crochet needle in hand!
All things DC is his specialty, Joseph Harrison Snyder is a full time artist who sells his paintings every weekend at Eastern Market. Sites such as the Capitol, the Marine Barracks, the Hill Center and the Eastern Market are his frequent subjects. In addition, he will paint your home upon request, in fact, 90% of commissioned sales are from Capitol Hill residents. His house portraits are filled with personal, intricate details such as prized front yard flowers, or that special tree with fall colored leaves and maybe even the owners’ dog(s) sitting on the front steps waiting to meet and greet! Selling since 2002 and using acrylic paint, Snyder also sells social commentary paintings which are worth a second look if you like satire.
“Exploring and celebrating wonder in everyday life” is crafter in chief Beth Hess’s motto. Her company is Wunder Around; her art form is glass, both mouth blown and hot sculpted. Colorful vases with textured glass on the exteriors make up a series that she calls Threads Collection. Two new glass shapes just in time for holiday presents are glass hearts that fit in your palm (“to spread a bit of love”, she says), and little glass rabbits, called Wonder Bunnies. Hess has set up at Eastern Market on Sundays for the past eight years, blows glass every minute of her spare time and also teaches ongoing, six week classes in glassblowing at DC Glassworks in Hyattsville, MD.
With colors of every hue unfurling in all directions, Susan Johnson Amidon mixes acrylic paints for psychedelic abstract fantasies. A jewelry maker who has sold at Eastern Market for many years, she took up painting and then wanted to make functional items that are unique, handmade and beautiful. Hand-painted wall hooks, key chains, wine stoppers and jewelry are some of the unique and giftable accessories that she creates along with large scale wall paintings and miniature paintings for hanging. All one of a kind, pick out your favorite colors!
Donna and Keith Ellingsworth have sold their handmade cutting boards for seventeen years and both work full time on designing wood cutting boards, cheese boards, and more. The Blue Ridge Cutting Board Company uses locally harvested wood to craft their boards at their studio in Stuarts Draft, VA. Live edge wood side tables are new this season and DC boards branded with the recognizable three stars and two stripes are take home gifts for the Hill folks and/or their visitors. Stocking stuffers made of wood are resting stands for tablet, readers and smart phone charging stations. Custom boards can be ordered for gifting with names, initials, or logos with the hardwood of your choice in walnut, cherry, maple, ash, elm and oak.
Brighten up your world with the Simply Lofty Creations of Brian Van Fleet. Fleet designs lighting fixtures of every kind: table lamps, chandeliers and hanging pendants with a definite and humorous twist. Repurposing barn wood beams, metal pipes, and mixing cement among other materials, he electrifies objects, adds his custom, dimmable bulbs (3000 burning hours), and infuses his wild imagination. These are decorative lights that you won’t see anywhere else! Fleet is grooving full time making these whimsical home decor items and is selling at Eastern Market every weekend. He specializes in custom orders for homes/designers and commercial sites.
Mango, coconut, vanilla, frankincense and sandalwood fragrance the air surrounding Bami Products. Bernadette Mayo created body butters comprised of whipped shea butters and essential oils for her own dry skin and then offered these for others to enjoy. She is a member of the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild since 2002 and offers samples you can try on your hands. Feel the silky smoothness of these beautifully luxurious and moisturizing body butters that erase all signs of dry skin.Therapeutic and health promoting recipes such as oatmeal, goat milk and honey soap or green tea and chai soap, for instance, are also nourishing cleansers. An array of shampoos, bath salts, body scrubs, lotions and more healthy skin products that not only smell good but feel great are a must for the cold winter months ahead.
How many people do you know from Georgia (not Atlanta, Georgia) but the country where Caucasus Mountain villages and Black Sea beaches meet? Academically trained painter, Pridon Goisashvili has been at the Eastern Market flea market Saturday and Sundays for years and has lived in the US for 16 years. An artist since he was a toddler, he paints in both acrylic and watercolors. DC and Capitol Hill are his favorite subjects and best sellers; he works full time at his craft. His colors are brilliant with the special glow of light found here on the Hill. Pridon has many International customers who come and visit him when in town; he loves Eastern Market and the people and that love shows in his artwork.
Find these vendors, more local artists and crafters along with farmers, food vendors and more from 7 am – 6 pm on Saturdays and 9 am – 5 pm on Sundays at the Eastern Market Flea Market on 7th Street SE between North Carolina Ave SE and Pennsylvania Ave SE, one block north of the Eastern Market Metro Stop on the Blue and Orange Lines.
Karen Cohen is a “Jersey Girl” and photojournalist living in Capitol Hill. An avid gardener, pet lover, activist and volunteer, she promotes art in the DC Metro area. Contact: [email protected]