A Pioneer Way locale has become Oak Harbor’s newest hub for local artists and crafters.
Whidbey Island Crafters’ Market and Studios opened this summer. The market currently houses 25 vendors, all Whidbey-based artists and craftspeople who sell their island-made wares at the communal space.
But according to its founder, the market is more than just an art shop; it is also a place where artists can connect with the community.
Julie Dunn has only lived on Whidbey Island for two years, but the idea for the crafters’ market came to her many years before she moved here. While living and working in Redmond, she envisioned a space where artisans of all skill sets could gather to create. Though she wasn’t able to pursue her idea at the time, after moving to Whidbey Island, her vision became feasible.
An artist herself, Dunn has dabbled in just about every craft imaginable, though her passion lies in sewing. She began spreading the word about the business she wanted to start among other creatives to see whether anyone would be interested in participating.
“The response was overwhelming,” she said.
One of the interested artists was Ruth Mattson. Mattson, a painter and crochet artist, met Dunn when they were both selling their works at the same venue. When Dunn told Mattson about her idea for the market, Mattson said she was all in.
Dunn, Mattson and the other participating artists opened the market in June. The first two months have been successful, Dunn said. Besides providing a consistent selling space for vendors, the market also serves as a studio where sellers can work on their various crafts and teach art classes.
Mattson sells both paintings and crocheted goods at the market. A lifelong artist, Mattson first began crocheting when she was a teacher and made hats for her students who could not afford warm clothes in the winter.
According to Mattson, having a stable location to sell makes a major difference for an artist.
“I think that half the battle is people seeing the art,” she said. “A lot of people come in here from Oak Harbor who say, ‘I’m so glad this is here. We needed this.’”
Dunn said the market has space for about twice as many vendors as it currently houses. Dunn carefully selects each vendor so that all the wares and art works are unique; each artist fills a specific niche within the market.
“This is a nice home base,” she said.