Walking across campus, I get distracted by a row of pink trees strung together by hammocks. In the morning, before the sun burns brightly overhead, the leaves and blossoms catch a few beams and radiate a soft glow. I've never seen campus like this, because I'm hardly ever up this early, or if I am, there are usually a bunch of students hustling around, breaking the morning calm. But not today.
Last night I invited my friends to come with me to Starbucks today to redeem my free drink. I also asked them if they'd like to stay with me in the coffee shop for an afternoon of productivity, thinking that a delicious beverage and a coffee shop ambiance would be a great motivator.
When we're about a minute away from Starbucks, we begin to pick up on a jumble of chatter that joins in the sounds of nature. I strain my neck and squint my eyes in an attempt to see deeper into the distance. The roundabout a block down from Starbucks is lined with vendors. Approaching the roundabout, we see a white sign stuck into the grass that reads "Clover Market." From where we're standing, we see a few items displayed at the stalls nearest the entrance of the outdoor market. Despite having work to do, we decide to take a quick peek before heading into Starbucks.
The market is bigger than it looks from the outside. Inside the market, whenever we think we've reached the end of the market, we're greeted by another string of vendors. So much to see and so little time! We strategically maneuver ourselves through the market, jumping from vendor to vendor, ooh-ing and ahh-ing. Items range from antiques and collectibles to vintage jewelry and clothing to finely crafted handmade items to original art. The entire market is like Etsy brought to life.
Somehow, a whole hour manages to pass as we navigate our way through the vendors. The threat of deadlines finally compels us to leave and go do what we originally set out intending to do: redeem my free drink and have a productive afternoon at Starbucks.
All the single tables at Starbucks are full, so we sit at the only seats available, which are at a bar table running along the front of the shop, facing a wall of glass. After getting our drinks, settling down, and setting up our workspace, we finally pull out our laptops and start working. Or I try to. But really all I'm doing is staring out the window, hoping that inspiration will strike me. From my chair, I can see the top of the vendors' white tents at Clover Market. I glance around Starbucks and wonder, how can anyone stay inside on a beautiful day like today? Sitting at the window overlooking the market, it feels like the market is taunting me. I spend a good fifteen minutes attempting to bury my head in work, but I can't keep the market out of my mind. So what do we do? Change of plans! To the market we go.
I try to keep myself from running when I see these bright, punny poster prints hanging around. I feel like college students are always looking for things to decorate their dorm room with, and I am no exception. Posters are popular, because they add a lot to the aesthetic of a room but don't take up too much space and are relatively cheaper than other interior design products. If it weren't for the fact that it was the end of the school year and I needed to keep summer storage in mind, I probably would have bought something here. Check out more of Bryan Sculthorpe's work at Yard Sale Press.
I know I'm supposed to be thinking about moving out of the dorms, but I'm already thinking about moving into the dorms at the beginning of next semester. A display of repurposed frames inspire me, and if it weren't for that darned summer storage, I'm sure I would have bought something here too.
I ask for a business card, which the vendor happily hands over. She is especially friendly and continues the conversation, asking me where I'm from, informing me about and inviting me to other markets and fairs happening around Philadelphia in the next few months. I learn that she runs her business on Etsy, does not own a physical shop, and so takes as many opportunities as she can to pop up at creative markets and fairs to gain exposure. Check out more of Lisa Jacob's work at Me and Phoebe.
I really appreciate the conversation she strikes up with me. Most vendors would see a young college student like me, draw the conclusion that I'm not a potential customer, and so look past me. What a nice lady she was for not treating me like that, despite the fact that I didn't end up buying anything.
A calligraphy display catches my eye, especially the one that uses Bryn Mawr College traditions related words to construct the shape of a Bryn Mawr College lantern. I linger around the shop, my finger itching for the shutter button. Usually when I'm at markets like this that exhibit handcrafted items, the creative who made it usually doesn't like having their work photographed, I assume for fear of having their work duplicated, although I personally see photography as a free mode of advertisement. Thus, I usually just come to accept that I can't take any photographs. But this time I figured I'd ask the vendor for permission, and even if it weren't granted, it's not like I'd have anything to lose. I ask her and she says it's alright, so I go for it. Check out more of Kimberly Shrack's work at Manayunk Calligraphy. (Photographed is Vintage Junk in My Trunk by Gina Viggiano)
Little white cards are dispersed around a stall, informing customers about the Mother's Day sale. Once again I ask the vendor if she'd mind me photographing her stall, and she says that she doesn't mind. I point my lens at a display of charms just as two women begin sifting through the display together, commenting on what they think is nice. When a particular charm catches their eyes, their fingers quickly flip it over for inspection and then retreat. I realize that this is because they don't want to obstruct my camera's view, so I quickly apologize for disrupting them and move onto photographing a different display. Check out more of Jennifer Wilfong's work at Yummy & Company.
I catch the end of a conversation between a mother and her child. She probably saw the Mother's Day sale signs and asked her child what he thinks makes a good Mother's Day present. After he mulls it over, the mother reassures her child that anything he makes for her will be a good present simply because he made it. My heart gets all warm and fuzzy from witnessing this mother's unconditional love.
An assortment of jars and flowers lures me over. We contemplate buying something for Mother's Day, but as much as I enjoy creative markets like this, I am always wary of making purchases, because handmade items and creative products are often quite expensive. However, we have nothing to lose by asking for the price of the jar, so we do, and are informed that it only costs two dollars. In no time at all, we fork over the two dollars. Check out more of Sean Downey's work at 13 Beater Street.
A teepee constructed of cloth and wood and filled with woven pillow grabs my attention. How awesome would it be to have that in my dorm room next year? I ask the vendor if I can photograph her stall and she gladly welcomes me to. She in turn asks me a question: "Are you a blogger?" Technically I have my own personal lifestyle blog and these pictures are going on there, but I simply blog in my own free time and don't have any plans of pursuing it seriously or making a business out of it, so I wouldn't call myself a blogger, but to spare the long-winded explanation, I just give a nervous chuckle and say, "Ya." Check out more of Carly Marly's work at Fringe and Feathers.
Today was a good day. it was a pleasant surprise stumbling upon Clover Market, and it was so great to be in an environment with other creatives. Even though this probably isn't true, it felt like the sun shone brighter, the flowers blossomed pinker, the grass grew greener, the sky bluer. Everything feels... better.
PS: 16. 15. 14. 13. 12. 11. 10. 09. 08. 07. 06. 05. 04. 03. 02. 01.