Making Self Expression Relatable

For 34 years, the Contemporary Crafts Market has provided creators and art lovers a place to explore where art, history and science come together. Years past have proven to be successful in connecting people to art they love, however, the retirement of the market’s CEO will bring about the end of an era.

“We are retiring, but art is timeless,” says CEO Roy Helms.

“When I launched this show 34 years ago, my goal was to showcase fine craft and wonderful products you cannot find anywhere else. There’s nothing like hand-crafted artistry to enhance home and everyday life.”

The market serves as not only a place to showcase talent and dedication, but as a medium to exchange stories. From November 1 to November 3, the Pasadena Convention Hall will house more than 150 booths filled to the brim with art that has a strong history and a plethora of stories behind it.

One such booth is that of enamelist Marianne Hunter.

Fifty-two years ago, Hunter started enameling atop pennies that she sold to friends and family. She prides herself in only using each design once, even over the last half century, and being inspired by something new for each piece.

Though her originality has persisted throughout the years, Hunter’s ability to keep simple titles for each piece has not.

“When I’m working on a piece, I have to immerse myself into that feeling,” Hunter says. “I have thought about it and what I’m trying to communicate as my vision comes together. Soon enough my one-word titles for each piece grew longer and longer, so I gave into it and started engraving short poems on the back that tell the piece’s story.”

From the colors used to the shape of the jewelry itself, everything about the piece shares a role in relaying Hunter’s narrative.

While the pieces can be worn, her techniques allow the art to look just as wonderful in a translucent case in which all sides can be seen.

“The biggest thing for me is that I do everything free-hand, every emotion comes through the work naturally. It’s raw, it’s authentic, it’s my vision of the story straight from my soul to my hands to the work itself,” Hunter says.

It can take Hunter anywhere from two weeks to a month to perfect a fired glass piece, which can take more than 120 individual firings somewhere between 1,500 and 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit before completion.

Hunter says, however, she doesn’t mind the process, as delicate and tedious as it may be.

Starting her own small enameling business in the summer of 1967, Hunter says she, “hasn’t had the need for a straight job since. I’ve been self-employed my whole life. I haven’t been to Europe or the other things I might’ve done if I got two-week vacations, but doing this everyday challenges me. It drives me, and there’s no other place I’d rather be than doing this.”

Due to the time, concentration and use of materials, Hunter’s pieces start at $5,000. She has started utilizing a layaway program to make her art accessible to anyone who can relate to the stories she tells through her work.

“I want people who relate to my art and these pieces to be able to have it. That’s what it’s for, that’s the reason I do this. If it speaks to you, you need to have it,” Hunter says.

Through an entirely different medium, watercolorist Liz Covington has also used her art to tell a story entirely her own. Though her art she has expressed the balancing act of being a practicing physician and crafter.

Ten years ago, the painter got her start in the art world through calligraphy, where she specialized in italics. Though she took it on for fun, Covington says it was more demanding than she could have ever imagined.

“I wanted to do something fun and easy to kind of take my mind away from my practice and I enjoyed the technique and discipline, but it’s a lot more involved than most people think,” Covington says.

As she began mastering calligraphy she sought out embellishments like watercolor flowers to pair with her writing. And without a moment’s notice she had discovered her true passion- painting.

“I started in watercolor because it was cheap, but I stuck with it because I think, personally, it’s one of the most challenging ways to deliver a scene. It requires so much practice and patience. I loved it immediately,” Covington says.

Today, Covington is able to produce nature scenes, flowers, portraits and abstract works. She says a particular fan favorite is her mixed abstract-portraits pieces.

As Covington takes on the complexities of nature, politics, and urban unrest, through her art she says painting the world as she views it through watercolor helps her see overwhelming aspects of life in their simplicity.

“I’m eclectic so I usually paint what’s on my mind. Sometimes is soft, and gentle, other times it’s a harsh truth that needs to be acknowledged. Either way, I feel it’s important to put it on paper. Once I’ve painted it, I feel like I’ve expressed it and it’s okay to let it go,” Covington says.

Covington has also explored the fashion market, and has recently gone under contract with a clothing company that put’s her art on shirts, dresses, scarves and bags, which she says brings her art to life.

Though her clothing can only be found online at the moment, Covington will be featuring greeting cards, prints, posters, and originals that range from $10 to more than $250 at the craft fair.

“Really, I just hope my paintings have a unique perspective and composition that provokes you. I want my art to draw you in, and make you think on an emotional level,” Covington says.  

Contemporary Crafts Market

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 3
Pasadena Convention Center Exhibit Hall, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena
Limited passes are available at