My wife and I spent a couple of days in Charleston, SC last week as part of the birthday celebrations for her and my sister. We had never been to Charleston, so it was a fun adventure that included a visit to the historic Charleston Market. The Charleston Market is a 200-year old brick market building filled with craft and food vendors. As we wandered through I especially appreciated many handcrafted items I hadn’t seen anywhere else.
I was fascinated by the wide variety of sweetgrass woven crafts. I was even more interested in watching the weaving happen right before my eyes. The crafters made every sort of basket you can imagine, in addition to wall hangings of every shape and size.
One artisan specialized in polymer clay pictures of egrets, crabs, turtles and lighthouses. Many of the works for sale were prints, but some original works were for sale, too. I looked closely at one and wondered, “Is that fabric?” The nice young lady working the booth explained that it was very thin clay crafted into unique works of art by the artist. I had never seen that before.
We happened across a young woman who had just procured a spot from which to sell her vegan mini-muffins. She was so proud of her work! We loved Emily’s muffins (@emilyeldh or themuffindrop on Instagram) and brought home half a dozen.
One sign puzzled me. “Please do not buy from roaming rose peddlers.” Then I saw one outside the exit. A young man weaving palm fronds into roses was actively marketing them on the street. Once it was in your hand, it was yours, for a price.
My brother and sister were especially interested in a booth that featured elaborate cross stitch renderings of famous Charleston places like Rainbow Row. I think they bought some Christmas gifts there.
The market was not crowded on the Monday morning we visited. Many of the booths had signs announcing “no photographs” so that no one would steal their ideas for painted tiles, handmade jewelry, hand-carved wooden plaques, and dog breed pillows. I was tempted. But I refrained.
I like the venues where I can talk to the artisans and learn something about them and their craft. I wonder what I could sell at a booth like that?