Last Sunday, the Jack London Market Square building was transformed into a showcase of Oakland’s ‘Do it Yourself’ (DIY) culture at the Patchwork handmade festival. Two floors of kiosks were filled with handmade jewelry, baked goods made from family recipes and vintage clothes sold by mostly local vendors. The mellow sounds of classical music wafted through the air along with the smell of cinnamon biscotti and scented candles.
Originally created in 2007 in Santa Ana, the bi-annual handmade festival has since spread to four cities, including Oakland, which has hosted the festival with hundreds of vendors since 2012.
Patchwork is a testament to the creative, indie makers in the community and supports the local economy by directly connecting the producer with the buyer. This year’s festival featured an array of vendors selling plush animal toys, handmade toiletries, one-of a kind paintings and repurposed clothing.
Olive Loew, the owner of Saint and Olive, based in San Francisco, has participated in the event for the second season in a row. Loew makes biscotti in a range of flavors from a family recipe. She sells her treats at coffee shops and at the La Casina kiosk in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Loew hopes to turn her small business into a worker-owned cooperative that would include a skills-training program to work with women coming out of prison. Of Patchwork, she says, “I just love the sense of community and the other businesses.”
Some vendors even made the drive up from Southern California to support the maker community. Justin Marsh and his wife, both from Santa Monica, together own Goat and Kettle, a jewelry shop that makes rings out of antique keys. He decided to join the event in Oakland because he mostly sells in the Los Angeles area, but wanted to expand his business to other cities. Marsh started making the key rings for his wife a few years ago, but recently turned his hobby into a full-time job. He says that the festival gives handmade artists like him an opportunity to display their unique wares to customers interested in DIY crafts. “We’ve always done really well at the other Patchworks so we decided to make a little vacation out of it, come out to Oakland and give it a try,” Marsh said.
Salvio Alphonso, an interactive designer and artist based in Oakland, has been an attendee at the event since it has been held in Downtown. He appreciates the one-of-a-kind art that is on display and the heightened sense of community that Patchwork brings about. Alphonso says that he’s glad that Oakland has continued to host the festival, because it highlights the city’s DIY craft artisans. “I’m just hoping for it to grow,” Alphonso said.