Eugene Weekly's Gift Guide 2009:
Tak a Cup o’ Kindness Tippling under the tree
The Art of Holiday Shopping Campus museums make the season bright
Beyond Water Pipes Alterna gifts from the “pipe & tobacco” shops
Won’t You Light My Bike Tonight? Seasonal cycling gifts
Purl It Together The joys of fuzzy yarn shops
Plantin’ in the Rain Winter supplies to brighten a gardener’s heart
First Time’s A Charm Two artists take on the Holiday Market
Annex of Art DIVA delights in new holiday space
First Time’s A Charm
Two artists take on the Holiday Market
by Suzi Steffen
Nothing says Eugene like an eggnog latte in the midst of the midday frenzied Holiday Market. Say Soromundi’s singing on the stage, fans rapt in their seats; kids dressed in velvet fairy gear run around as their parents stagger through the Tofu Palace line, dropping canvas bags filled with local prezzies at the tables. The usual suspects occupy the usual places — the baby clothes you were just waiting to buy until your friends actually had their baby, the sparkly dragons for your niece, the catnip-filled mousies for your cat’s stocking — but there’s more.
Here’s a bag sewn from inner tubes and reused clothing, and over here, a set of red porcelain fortune cookies, carved with a porcupine quill. Tyler Dones (Twylyte Hour) and Amanda Ryznar (YogaGoat Pottery) fill two of the new spots at the market this year.
Dones got his start, he says, when his sister brought back a bag from the Bay Area, and he made her an evening bag. “I had used inner-tubes for everything from rubber straps to bat ears on a costume for my son,” he says. Then he started playing around at his sewing machine, constructing another bag. And the project took off.
Ryznar always knew that she wanted to take a pottery class, and when she finally got the chance in college and sat down at the pottery wheel, “it was like a light turning on.” She worked for two different potteries in Vermont after college, learning more about throwing clay and carving it, and she’s been what her friends call “self-unemployed” for three years.
Both artists, true to the Saturday/Holiday Market creed, use labor-intensive processes for their hand-made creations. Dones, who has a full-time day job and also serves as a single dad to his son, starts out by stopping by tire shops to look through their junk piles. He also gets inner tubes from Life Cycle bike store (he says the inner tubes from bikes aren’t nearly as dirty as truck/tractor/car tubes, but he adds, “That fix-a-flat stuff is a mess, and alien green stains come from it.”). Most of the places, he says, are happy to have non-recyclable inner tubes out of their junk piles.
At the beginning, when he picks them up, the tubes “are a long way from pretty.” For liner fabric, he goes to thrift stores and looks for dresses, textiles in the home decorating departments and other fabrics to “upcycle and repurpose.” Though some of his metal pieces come from leather suppliers, he also uses “found objects from the road” to keep his bags together.
Meanwhile, Ryznar doesn’t have to sort through and wash inner tubes and hang them in her living room to consider their shapes — Dones says his son isn’t exactly a fan of that method — but she does have to consider her materials carefully. She calls herself “a porcelain snob” because she likes expensive clay, English Grolleg porcelain, which she says “makes a huge difference with the quality and vibrancy of my colors.” She creates the slips and glazes herself, and after she’s thrown her pieces and trimmed them, she starts coating her pieces with the colored slips.
Then the fun part: carving. “This is my favorite part, and it’s a good thing it is, since it is also the part that takes the longest,” Ryznar says. Her freehand designs then push through the slip, revealing the white part underneath. More drying (which can take a while in the winter here — Ryznar jokes about the wet pieces “growing moss”) and then firing, glazing, and a final blast of high-temperature firing in the kiln.
Dones enjoys using the visual world, both natural and built. “I love architecture for inspiration,” he says. After sketching the design on the rubber, he cuts it and starts to contemplate a stiching pattern. “The decorative stitching is what sets my items apart,” he says. “They look so little like old garbage and so much like something ‘new’ that many people have a hard time distinguishing the material.” Dones thinks about his pieces as distinct little pieces of art — “a drawing, a poem or a lyric. They all have to stand out and be their own being.”
Both Dones and Ryznar look forward to the Holiday Market this year. “I am sure that it will be the liveliest show I’ve ever done!,” Ryznar says. And even though she worked the Saturday Market this year, she says, “I am certain that I am completely unprepared!”
Dones is nervous too, but he adds, “the Saturday/Holiday Market team is not only experienced but helpful.” With the support of the tight-knit artisan community at the Holiday Market and their one-of-a-kind products, both Dones and Ryznar should be set for a busy year — complete with eggnog lattés.
The Holiday Market at the Lane County Fairgrounds runs 10am-6pm Nov. 27-29 and Dec, 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 and 22-23, and 10am-4pm Dec. 24. More info at www.holidaymarket.org