Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles: Scouting the new market
Low-slung Warehouse No. 10, freshly painted in a bright navy yellow, opened its doors Friday as Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, a crafts fair-meets-foodie market in San Pedro. More than 3,000 people marked opening day by sampling gourmet donuts, alcohol-infused cupcakes and handmade wares at more than 60 booths set under an open-truss ceiling with whirling fans. (That's Janeen Gudelj, owner of Donut Snob, pictured here, holding one of her handmade creations.)
Crafted is the brainchild of Wayne Blank, known for his transformation of an old Southern Pacific rail yard into the Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica. For the last 18 months, Blank and his partners, real estate developer Howard Robinson and designer Alison Zeno, were busy turning the 1944 naval warehouse into what they hope will be the country's largest indoor craft market operating year-round, with as many as 550 vendors.
With Alicia Murphy's indie folk music playing when the doors opened at 11 a.m. Friday, crafts aficionados headed down the aisles and watched artists in action -- painting doghouses, cutting paper rosettes, carving leather, crocheting bracelets and tying nautical-knot key chains.
The 10-by-10-foot stalls were filled with jaunty felt hats and recycled leather bags, bookends made of old LPs and candles shaped like macaroni and cheese. For the foodies, there were artisanal moles and marmalades, gourmet pickles and truffle salts. We scanned the booths for this sampling of the crafts and craftspeople at the new market:
"Deliciously snobby handmade gourmet donuts" is how Gudelj describes her Donut Snob creations. She had attended culinary arts classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College for only a semester when her business took off this June. Gudelj may be too young to have known the doughnut drawers of the old Helms Bakery trucks, which explains why she calls her operation "the first and only doughnut home delivery service in L.A. County." Her menu includes the Dinker (a maple-bacon donut), Berry Beat (a cinnamon glaze with a mixed berry coulis) and the Razy Lemon Lulu (a raised donut with lemon zest glaze and raspberry coulis). Price: $3 each.
Francisco and Chrystal Velez developed their craft from a desire to have a garden in their San Pedro apartment, though they had no yard or terrace. In his spare time, Francisco, a home remodeler, cuts metal strips and rivets them into shape; then he adds soil and succulents tied to a chicken wire frame. The result: green wall sculpture that is easy to maintain. "You just have to spray it once a week," Chrystal said.
The couple's other work consists of leather, glass and wood terrariums, $15 to $250, filled with a combination of sand, stone, shells and succulents. The couple, pictured here, are working under the name Native Desert Plant Designs. They don't have a website yet but can be reached at (310) 955-0431 or through Facebook.
Gus Lopez learned how to tie more than 75 knots attending Tongue Point Job Corps, a vocational seaman training program in Oregon. Away for three months at a time working as mate on an Alaska tug, "I use to sit in my room and tie knots for hours to keep from getting bored," he said.
His current three-day-a-week tug job allows time to fashion functional nautical artwork of complex knots, such as an oval rope door mat ($45), monkey fist knot key chains ($9 to $11) and square knot dog leashes ($25). In his Knotical Art booth, you can watch as he transforms three strands of nylon line, a marble and a small metal shackle into a key chain. If you ask nicely, he can make you one with his eyes closed.
Justin Deines, pictured here, learned saddle making and leather repair from his dad, a harness maker for Disneyland for 30 years. Lisa Buswell's mother taught her to crochet for the first time at age 6. They met when a friend gave Buswell one of Deines' carved, flower-bracelets.
"I contacted him on Facebook, we talked and later he made some buttons for my infinity scarves," she said. Last August they decided to combine their respective crafting talents into Lint & Buttons,
a fusion of leather-and-crochet fashion accessories.
"It makes our pieces more unique than just simple crochet or leather work," Buswell said. Items include leather-and-crochet earrings ($20) and necklaces ($30), carved card cases ($25 to $45) and leather headbands ($15).
Judy King-Wagner's passions are sewing and spending time teaching her grandkids -- all 22 of them -- how to cook. "I always double the recipe so they learn some math too," the retired nurse said, adding that she began making aprons for her grandchildren two years ago. ("My grandson insisted I start an apron company and put me on Facebook," she said.) Her cotton aprons come with a handmade tin cookie cutter. Shown here: a Holsten-Hereford cow apron with mini-cow cookie cutter and the Birthday Apron with a party hat cookie cutter. Kids aprons are $22 to $30; adult aprons are $30 to $42.
Paoling Che has been making candles since she was 14. Her day job is designing websites, but working under the name Kokocandles she crafts paraffin candles in the shape of macaroons and cupcakes with scents of vanilla, sweet frosting and chocolate. One bodacious 7-inch cupcake ($99) took 5 pounds of wax to make and is the size of your head. Pictured here: Che with her macaroni and cheese candle kit ($34).
Carla Ortega's papier-mâché sculptures start with a drawing. With a plan in place, she covers a wire form with strips of newspaper dipped in a flour-and-water-paste. After that dries, she paints and accessorizes the figures. "It can take a month-and-a-half to make a single piece," she said, holding up a 30-inch-tall Day of the Dead flamenco dancer ($150) for inspection. Also available: Day of the Dead-motif pins ($10) and picture frames ($15 to $17). Ortega works under the name Our Creations.
Food trucks kept opening day crowds well fed. The crafts marketplace will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The address for Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles is 112 E. 22nd St., San Pedro.
-- Barbara Thornburg
Photos: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times