Lake Shore resident Janice Kimmel loves the engineered precision of her Glowforge laser cutter.
She said she was “going nuts” as a stay-at-home mom a few years ago, and simply made an impulse purchase of this $4,500 piece of digital technology.
Now Kimmel’s home business, Sunspot Emporium, keeps her busy — and sane — for a few hours each day cranking out stunningly sharp and intricate etchings and designs on jewelry, keychains, cutting boards, signs, trophies, journal covers and much more.
“I’ve always been a tech person, and this is a great technology toy,” she said. “I’m more of a designer and builder than an artist, I’d say.”
Donna McLeod loves the natural precision and the sweet buzz of her honeybees. A few years ago, she and her family decided to start a couple of hives to help pollinate their own gardens. Then they learned about today’s ongoing, worldwide bee die-off and decided to step up their efforts. Their family business, Sithean Acres, now produces honey and wax from 35 hives from their pair of acres in Venersborg.
“Pollinators are dying left and right, and we noticed that we didn’t see any bees in our area,” McLeod said. “It went from a hobby to a passion.”
Both women found an outlet for their creative passions in the Night Market Vancouver, a monthly gathering of local makers and artisans who say there’s no better place to build community while also building sales.
“You build your brand by knowing your community,” said night market mastermind Jessica Chan-O’Donnell, who launched what’s become a downtown tradition about two years ago. That’s when Chan-O’Donnell, a veteran of start-up ventures and pop-up markets in Portland, moved north of the river.
Vancouver’s night market started out in what’s now Tandem Hall, an open space on Main Street alongside Boomerang cafe.
Chan-O’Donnell was delighted to piece together not just a sales event but a whole new social scene: friendly, mutually supportive vendors and shoppers who are hungry for unique and handmade items, and curious about the artists and makers who create them.
The Night Market has been a runaway success, with more vendors joining all the time, Chan-O’Donnell said.
“After seeing the turnout … and mainly witnessing how the market united community, I knew I couldn’t let it go,” she wrote in a email. “How incredible it was to see how everyone came together — from our vendors, neighboring businesses, to customers and the support we then got that followed.”
You can join that scene on a couple of special shopping nights. On the nights of Nov. 22 and 23, the Night Market will hold a Holiday Market where you can get a jump on your seasonal shopping needs.
Featuring 80-plus local vendors, the Holiday Market is set for 5 to 10 p.m. both nights in its new home, the Terminal 1 WareHouse ’23 building on the Vancouver waterfront, 100 Columbia St.
“Having all the vendors inside is really nice since we don’t always have the greatest weather. The Terminal 1 venue is gorgeous, and people are always happy to be there,” McLeod said.
“We have gotten very attached to our neighbors and friends at the night market,” Kimmel said.
We know everyone is still smarting over recent news of the death of Rojo the Therapy Llama, who can never be replaced. But the night market will do its darndest to supply its customers some fuzzy, cuddly love of the same sort. Among the many special guests expected to visit the Holiday Night Market are alpacas Napoleon and Jeanne-Pierre, two Rojo proteges from the same facility, Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas of Woodland. This pair of alpacas will be on hand at the Holiday Night Market from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 23 only.
Also on Saturday night, there will be music by Travis Riddle and by the Metropolitan Arts Carolers.
On Nov. 22 night, balloon artist Joe Mishkin will twist and squeak temporary artworks from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Santa will be on hand from 8 to 10 p.m.
On both nights, hot food will be for sale. You’ll have a chance to make a toy-drive donation of a new toy to get a free oil-change coupon at Brake Zone. You can even adopt a pet via the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.
Scary and sweet
You might think of a laser as pointing the way to a gleaming future, but Kimmel said laser technology actually gets quite messy, smelly and gross. She spends a fair amount of time cleaning soot and gunk out of her $4,500 impulse purchase, she said. “Tools of the trade are Q-Tips and baby wipes,” she said.
But the 35-watt Glowforge isn’t dangerous, she said. Like a microwave oven, it shuts down automatically if you open the cover.
“It’s not much more powerful than a toaster — it’s just very concentrated,” Kimmel said.
McLeod did have a fear factor to overcome when she started beekeeping, she said.
“I was going to sit on the sidelines and watch (husband John) go ahead and do the bees,” said McLeod. “He made me put on a bee suit and face my fears. I realized they weren’t so scary. When I got to see the bees up close, I realized how calm and docile they are, so long as you’re calm. I got to see how beautiful they really are. When you learn about all they do, they’re really very intelligent in their own way. They’re amazing.”