WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
Clara doesn’t have to be the only one with something unique under her tree. At the Pennsylvania Ballet’s second annual Nutcracker Market, more than 70 vendors (selected through a judging process) offer unique and finely crafted toys, handcrafted jewelry, games, ornaments, photography, artisan-crafted clothing, functional art, calligraphy, ceramics, fine art, and ballet-inspired wares.
The three floors of the Kimmel Center will be brimming with creative pieces in this indoor holiday market experience, which benefits the Pennsylvania Ballet and The School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. In addition to the market, the event features live performances celebrating cultures and holiday traditions from around the world, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, a local Baptist choir, tap dancers, Irish dancers, Indian dancers, a Cambodian dance troupe, Polish folk dance, and Argentine Tango dancers.
“The Nutcracker Market is a one-of-a-kind experience that combines the joys of the Nutcracker season with the delights of holiday shopping and entertainment,” said David Gray, Interim Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Diane Beach, of Montgomeryville, owns The Talking Quilt. She specializes in personalized items, like stockings with embroidered names, ballerina blankets, family tree pillows and other items.
“If you give a gift that’s personalized, that allows the giver to give based on personality,” she said.
She’s excited to be part of the Nutcracker Market for the second year. She was pleasantly surprised at how amazing the event was last year.
“It was more of an experience,” she said. “There was so much entertainment. I left there thinking ‘I feel like I just walked out of a Hallmark movie.’”
Beach has been quilting and making personalized gifts since it started as a hobby 15 years ago. After hurting herself at her full-time job, she jumped into this creative life full-time and loves it.
She’s always been crafty, she said, and always a big fan of the holidays.
“It’s so neat to see all the little kids running around (at the Market),” she said. “There’s something for every single person.”
Sandy Fasold, of Flourtown, agrees. She’s a participating vendor for the second year. She makes jewelry. She enjoys the event as a nice way to finish her busy business year.
“It’s extremely festive,” she said. “It a good way get into the Christmas spirit.”
Fasold has been making jewelry for about 10 years, two of those years full-time. She has always had an interest in fashion and design so it was a natural fit for her.
“It’s truly a passion for me.” she said.
It’s work, but fun – she solders, hammers, forges metal. She works with precious metals, freshwater pearls – anything that will make the piece what she envisions it to be.
Her main focus, though, is taking vintage pieces and incorporating them into a new, more modern piece.
Because of that, and her love of things that are unique, she creates many one-of-a-kind pieces, she said. She does have standard lines in sterling, though. She loves doing custom work for weddings and events.
“That’s the fun part, so I can be creative,” she said.
Fasold, who paints for fun and has done decoupage in the past, loves being creative.
“It’s an outlet for me,” she said. “You can get lost from day to day activity. It’s relaxing.”
To be able to do that full-time is a gift.
“It doesn’t feel like work. How great is that? I feel lucky that I can do this,” she said.
She’s excited about bringing her work to a holiday event, too.
“I see people get excited. This time of year always has that spirit of Christmas and excitement,” she said. “It’s something that makes people feel good.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Nutcracker Market
When: The market continues through Sunday, Dec. 14.
Where: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad St., Philadelphia.
Info.: Check www.paballet.org/nutmarket