Mod Shop showcases local talent, community vibe

Shoppers walk through Cafe Deva during the 2014 Mod Shop crafts fair in downtown Modesto on Saturday.
Shoppers walk through Cafe Deva during the 2014 Mod Shop crafts fair in downtown Modesto on Saturday. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Handmade crafts and homegrown talent drew crowds in downtown Modesto, bringing the community together in spirit and on paper with a mural painted by passers-by.

Several thousand potential customers passed by the 60 local vendors manning booths, restaurants wafting tempting smells and area musicians providing a back beat Saturday evening for Mod Shop: Indie Crafters Market.

“Everybody is from this area. It was really important to us that we’re celebrating our businesses,” said Kate Trompetter, one of the Mod Shop organizers.

The event expanded this year, spreading along J Street, from 10th to 13th streets. Mobile retail trucks parked along the streets. Inside Mistlin Gallery, the community mural took on its colorful character beneath the brushes of dozens of children and doodling adults.

“Everyone is coming together to complete it, just like our city,” said mural overseer Michael Diaz, president of the Modesto Junior College Visual Arts Club that created the 5-by-10-foot base drawing. “They asked us to make an outline, like a big coloring book page,” he said.

The outline included a simple map of downtown and an arch reading simply “Modesto.” Surrounding those are suggestions of scenes and empty tiles for creative souls to claim.

“It’s turned out better than anyone could have imagined,” said Tom Ciccarelli, gazing at the artwork in progress. He and wife Angi donated funding for the project in memory of Angi Ciccarelli’s daughter Kelsi Lowe, who died of leukemia at age 10.

Outside the mural room, local authors sold autographed books and teens manned booths with their own crafts. The Teen Mod Shop, new this year, offered crafts and, at one booth, homemade dog treats.

Ashley King, 16, and Dahlia Hood, 17, said they made the treats with the help of the Jag Paws Club of Gregori High School as a fundraiser for the Pupz N Palz animal shelter.

At another table, Laiya El Duri, 13, and Lauren Velasco, 12, sold string-adorned bottles and crayon art. “We did it just for fun,” Lauren said.

At a table of beaded jewelry, sisters Sophia and Elizabeth Holland, 15 and 17, said they had sold their wares at craft fairs for about four years. “There’s a lot more people at this one,” Elizabeth said, “and it’s at night.”

“This is by far my favorite event – the entire vibe of it, the energy,” said Michelle Adams, selling Cosmic Bath and Beauty wares. “People coming in are genuinely appreciative of handmade items,” she said.

Shopping at Unique Boutiques, an artist cooperative, Becky Silveira said she likes supporting local entrepreneurs. “I was shopping earlier for the Small Business Saturday, looking at some cute scarves – but they were made in China. It’s nice to have things made locally,” she said.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.