It’s easy to avoid holiday shopping as your dance card fills up with parties and your work hours stretch into the night. But for those who procrastinate, there’s hope just a short stroll from the Capitol. At Eastern Market, you can check off most of your shopping list in the space of a morning, and have time to spare for a crab cake or other treats to nurse that headache from too much eggnog.
Sure, you’ve heard about the fire and about squabbling among the merchants along Seventh Street Southeast, but none of this takes away from the wide array of hand-crafted gifts available at the flea market. Here are a few recommendations, gleaned from a trip through the market Sunday.
Mothers, sisters, girlfriends and most other women you may encounter in your life will swoon over a tiny box with a bow on it. Smashing Jewels, owned by vendor Candace Marsella, is located near the North Hall and offers a variety of jewelry. All of the pieces share one thing in common: hand-picked pearls and semiprecious stones. Marsella, a certified diamond and colored stone specialist, has been selling her pieces at the market for two and half years. Prices range from $30 to $224.
“I’m really particular about quality,” she says, as is evident in her pieces, which include earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Her signature piece is a blister pearl pendant, which is created when a pearl grows on the inside of the mother of pearl shell. Marsella also makes custom jewelry. “I always bring my tools so I can customize on the spot,” she says.
Her pieces can be found at Eastern Market on Sundays or on her Web site, smashingjewels.com.
The fire that hit Eastern Market in April gutted the East Hall, but fortunately the North Hall, which houses artisans like Olivia Took of Peacock Botanicals, was able to re-open. Took, a trained acupuncturist who has been at Eastern Market for 10 years, sells fragrant soaps for $1.25 per ounce.
“I make it from scratch,” she says. “I make it in pots in my kitchen.” The colorful soaps come in various scents and patterns with names such as “Soap du Jour,” “Mother Africa,” and “1957,” a soap that Took says smells like a creamsicle. Soaps also are available with a loofah embedded in them so that as the soap is worn down, the sponge begins to show. Took also makes some hair products, such as conditioner. If you can’t make it to the market, her soaps are available on the Web at peacockbotanicals.com.
Perhaps jewelry and soap aren’t your style. Why not try Geeda’s Hand Poured Candles? Geeda, otherwise known as Anita Jefferson, sets up shop at the market every weekend, rain or shine, and offers pillar and container candles in a wide array of colors and scents. Candles come in scents such as mango, papaya and pomegranate with a new fragrance introduced each quarter. Geeda designs scents that are extremely complex so they can’t be copied.
Geeda also does custom designs for weddings, other special occasions and for fraternities and sororities.
The holidays are filled with meals shared with friends and family. What’s almost as important as the food is the dish on which it’s served. Bill Campbell, an artist from Pennsylvania, sells his pottery through the Flea Market at Eastern Market. Campbell creates handmade pieces that are dishwasher-safe and microwaveable.
“My motive in making pottery is not terribly noble,” he says on his Web site, Campbellpottery.com. “I am merely trying to cause a little celebration in everyday living.”
At the market you can find dishes, vases, platters and other pieces that cost $10 to $110.
If you’re looking for a less conventional gift, First World Culture is the vendor for you. This family-owned business uses a polyurethane process to make light switch-covers that feature various scenes and phrases.
“I just try to do things that fit the personality of the market,” says Curtis Baity, adding that the details of how the covers are made remain a family secret. One sample cover features a tennis player, while another reads “I Know From Whom My Blessings Flow.” Covers sell for $10 each, or three for $25.
The above listings are just a sample of the many gift options a stone’s throw away from the Dome. Whether you’re shopping for your parents, significant other or friends, Eastern Market likely has a gift for you.