Make it a Handmade Holiday

aka “the Black Friday alternative”


 Photo: Collages by J. Austin Jennings  at Rosewood Art Center


Somehow, a new holiday tradition has developed in this country. Soon after “giving thanks” for what we have, we get up before dawn (or just stay up until then), shove through a mob, wait in line for hours and turn our shopping malls and stores into gladiator arenas. Even the name – Black Friday – is archaic. The only other “black” day I know of was when the stock market crashed and people jumped to their deaths. And who gets all of our hard-earned cash? Corporations that, while they may be involved in charities and provide many jobs, aren’t putting a lot of money back into the local economy.

So, if the gladiator and corporate scene isn’t your idea of a shopper’s paradise, the Dayton City Paper suggests a Black Friday alternative. We are featuring several local shows that bring together the best of independent artisans to offer consumers fun ways to shop for unique holiday gifts and support local entrepreneurs at the same time.

ARTtoBUY: Holiday Gift Gallery

For 22 years, the Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) has been providing “art for the community and a community for art.” The center is a space to present exhibits by local and regional artists and provide professional development for said artists. They have 600 members, half of which are artists and half of which are people who want to support arts in the community.

For the past 20 years, the members’ exhibit at this time of year has been “ARTtoBUY: Holiday Gift Gallery.”

“It’s an opportunity for local artists to market and sell their work as holiday giftables in a contemporary art gallery setting,” said Eva Buttacavoli, executive director of DVAC.

This year, there are 43 artists selling more than 120 different objects. Consumers can find gifts in glass, ceramic, sand painting, photography, mixed media, sculpture, scarves and jewelry.

The 43 featured artists were chosen from an applicant pool of 83 this year. A jury comprised of professors, gallery owners and members of the Ohio Arts Council judged each work on good craftsmanship, originality and how contemporary each piece is.

“It’s the best of the best,” Buttacavoli said.

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the ARTtoBUY crew has brought in some extra help this year. Through a large in-kind donation, Real Art Design Group has designed the merchandising for all of the gift objects in the exhibit. Real Art Design is a prestigious design firm with offices in Dayton, Cincinnati, Chicago and New York. They contributed the design and fabrication of the display systems.

“When you walk up to an object or section, it lights up,” Buttacavoli said. “It illuminates the beautiful craft and is a way to celebrate the artist.”

Shoppers can come during open gallery hours or during special shopping parties. DVAC will host an “Industry Night” Shopping Party from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11 – open to Dayton area art community colleagues – and a “Beer & Peanuts” Shopping Party from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18 in conjunction with Joe Waizmann of Ale Fest and the soon-to-be-opened Warped Wing Brewery. The venue is also available to rent for your own “holiday shopping party,” complete with music and refreshments. The rental fee is discounted or waived, depending on how much the group purchases that evening.

Dayton Visual Arts Center is located at 118 N. Jefferson St. Open gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information please call 937.224.3822, visit or email

Handmade Holiday

Handmade Holiday has become a Dayton First Friday staple, according to Mary “Merry” Graham of Blue Planet Creations. The show started in 2008 at c{space and has been hosted the past few years at The “Old” Yellow Cab Building. Formerly home to a taxi company, Yellow Cab is now a community art space in downtown Dayton. The building has been used for theater, concerts, classes and even birthday parties. Graham became involved in the organization of the show when the Handmade Holiday committee put out a call for volunteers.

“Once I got involved, I got to see the amazing support of the community,” Graham said. “Planning the show has become a work of passion.”

Graham is joined on the planning committee by artists Shannon Rea, Wendy Wagener Harris, Gail Pop and Erin Vasconcelos.

This year, Handmade Holiday features 26 booths with more than 30 artists and craftspeople. The artists were chosen by a jury to offer a wide variety of affordable and high-quality items, according to Graham.

“Many of our vendors offer items that are modern, unique, creative and fun,” Graham said. “We are thrilled with the wide variety of techniques exhibited by our vendors.”

Shoppers can find personal care products, purses, toys, home décor, papercrafts, wall art, ceramics, jewelry, crochet and knit items, metal work and even chainmail. All of the booth fees go to The Yellow Cab Building to help bolster the events the building hosts throughout the year. Bar sales from the evening also raise funds for Yellow Cab.

“The beauty of shopping local for the holidays is keeping your holiday dollars in the local economy,” Graham said. “I feel one of the biggest benefits to shopping handmade is that you can buy and give gifts that are very unique and often make the recipient feel very special. These items are often one of a kind and not just anyone can get them, unlike things offered at your typical shopping mall.”

Along with a way to buy one-of-a-kind gifts (or a present for yourself), Handmade Holiday is handing out 26 swag bags each day and will have a special photo booth set up. Mugshot Studios is bringing holiday props and letting people’s imaginations go wild.

“They were a huge hit last year,” Graham said. “It’s a great chance to get a fun photo for a holiday card or your new festive profile picture!”


The Yellow Cab Building is located at 700 E. Fourth Street. Handmade Holiday goes from 5-10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. For more information about this or other art events held there, please like “The “‘Old’ Yellow Cab Building” on Facebook or email

A Rosewood Holiday

Rosewood Arts Centre was founded in 1985 by the city of Kettering in the former Rosewood Elementary School. Since then, it has been dedicated to “creative experiences” through classes in mediums such as ceramics, painting, drawing, theatre, dance, photography, languages, creative writing, jewelry and glass. It also holds an exhibition space called Rosewood Gallery.

Rosewood’s holiday show is in its infancy, with 2013 being its second year. The event was started as a way to give Rosewood artists an opportunity to experience their work in a festival-type setting, according to Cultural Arts Manager Shayna McConville.

“For some of our artists, this is a professional development opportunity, and for others, a fun way to share their artwork with each other and the public in a dynamic, arts-focused environment,” McConville said.

There will be plenty of holiday gifts for purchase. Artists selling work are all affiliated with Rosewood – whether students, faculty or visiting artists. More than 20 artists will be offering painting and prints, ceramics, jewelry and sculpture. Shoppers can also stop in the Rosewood Gallery for Art Ed: An Art Educator’s Exhibit and cast their vote for the People’s Choice Awards.

This year, staff combined “A Rosewood Holiday” with Rosewood’s annual “Demo Day” to make one big art extravaganza. There will be demonstrations in glass bead-making, the pottery wheel, painting and drawing. Kids can participate in interactive activities such as making holiday cards, decorating cookies and playing dress-up at a photo booth.

The festival will also feature performances by Gem City Ballet, Kettering Children’s Theatre, Funk Lab Dance Studio, the Classy Ladies, Muse Machine, Nadeja and the Black Box Improv Theatre.

“This is the region’s hub of fine arts activity and creative process,” enthused McConville. “In one stop, you can view fine arts, experience a performance, learn how to create a glass piece, create your own holiday cards and ornaments, meet local artists and buy unique gifts.”

The second annual Rosewood Holiday also brings a special fundraiser organized by Cathy Mills, Rosewood’s ceramics studio coordinator, and the studio’s “Wish List” group. Shoppers can purchase a pottery bowl donated by the artist and enjoy a bowl of soup to go along with it. Proceeds go toward purchasing new equipment for the ceramics studio. Bowls have been donated by pottery instructors and students, including April Lemaster, Sharon Williams, Michelle Wright, Andy Dailey, Dora Lawson and Mills, herself. The soup is being provided by the Ohio Coffee Company and several other businesses.


A Rosewood Holiday goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Proceeds from this event will go directly to the artists and the Kettering Parks Foundation. The Rosewood Arts Centre is located at 2655 Olson Dr. in Kettering. For more information, please like “Rosewood Arts Centre” on Facebook, call 937.296.0294 or email

Aullwood Holiday Art Fair & Open House

If you want to experience nature with your local art, visit the Aullwood Audubon Center – not to be confused with the MetroPark – for its Holiday Art Fair & Open House. Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm offers educational recreation and research programs in its nature sanctuary, practices sustainable agriculture on a working farm and even hosts 4-H Wild Wolves Club and a Head Start Preschool.

Its 10th annual holiday show also features handmade, high quality work in a variety of mediums, such as slate paintings, jewelry, clothing, photography and baskets. This show offers shoppers freshly made fir swags, boxwood wreaths, centerpieces, trees and edible gifts.

For the kids, there will be stations to dip their own beeswax candles and to make earth-friendly ornaments and crafts using seeds, pine cones and dried plants. The entire family can enjoy a special nature hike through the woods, prairie, meadow and marsh of Aullwood’s natural sanctuary. And if the hike gets your stomach rumbling or your teeth chattering, Aullwood’s Cafe offers food and beverage made with their own meat and dairy.


Aullwood Audubon Center is located at 1000 Aullwood Road. The Holiday Art Fair is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30. For more information, please call 937.890.7360, like “Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm” on Facebook or visit


If 20 to 40 artists aren’t enough for your shopping senses, you can also check out Hara Arena’s National Holiday Gift Show. The 33rd annual show plays host to 340 booths and brings in upwards of 13,000 people in a weekend. Items are still customized and one-of-a-kind, but can range from baked goods to reindeer to candles to gifts for the sports fan. And of course, plenty of jewelry. Artists come from all over the Midwest to take part in this show, and many families have made it a shopping tradition, since it starts on that infamous Black Friday.

“A lot of people come in on Black Friday and they’re ready and raring to go,” Show Manager Brooke Jett said. “They’ve hit the big box stores and got their electronics and their gadgets; now they come to our show for unique, customized items.”


Hara Arena is located at 1001 Shiloh Springs Road. The show costs $5 to get in (free for children five and under), but you can get a dollar discount if you bring in a new toy for the organization “For Love of Children.” The National Holiday Gift Show is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30 and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. For more information, please call 937.278.4776 or email


These events are just a sample of what’s available in your community. Many churches host holiday bazaars, and some places create winter markets to showcase handmade goods. It may require a little more imagination and planning, but these holiday gift shows are an opportunity to engage in and support your community, along with giving a present that you can be pretty sure they’re not going to get from anyone else.

Plus, you don’t have to bring your armor.

Reach DCP freelance writer Joyell Nevins at


Tags: ,

Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at or reach her at

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Got an Opinion?


We are interested to hear what you think.  Please send us a message. [contact-form 4 “Opinion”]  

Springfield’s hidden gem


Referred to as an American Folk Art site, I didn’t know what I expected on my journey to Springfield’s Hartman […]

Debate 7/17: Flag on the Play


Q: Should persons with certain known behavioral tendencies such as suicide or violence be prohibited from owning guns? Legislatures across […]

Conspiracy Theorist 7/17: Hooray for Domino’s

Year after year, the same roads are torn up and road crews patch them. But they never really repair them. […]

On Your Marc 7/17: Good any day

First, a funny story. Larry Lee, the big tackle from Roth High School, for a number of reasons decided he […]

The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, and Bush at Rose

CULT 2016 Tim Cadiente-2

“Rock and roll never forgets,” the classic rock song goes, and Billy Duffy, guitarist and founding member of the British […]