Would you pay $60 for this mosquito?
I did. (Yikes!) He’s now holding court in my living room, although artist Herbert Friedmann assures me he’ll survive the elements in my garden. (I’ll move him out there, I’m sure, as soon as the price tag fades).
Felix, as Herbert dubbed him, was just one of our great finds at the Ybor City Saturday Market in Tampa.
We Floridians are blessed to garden year-round, but January’s a downer. Weeding, cutting back rose bushes, and adding compost — it all sounds too like delayed-gratification work.
So I hit the Ybor City market on Saturday with my friend Janna. It was our first visit, and we were surprised by both the variety of vendors and the quality of their unusual, mostly hand-crafted wares. Here’s another by Herbert, who lives in Holiday and paints murals in addition to his metal art. He doesn’t have a website, but he’s a regular at the Saturday market. Or call him at (727) 940-2038.
While Felix was a splurge for me, we also found plenty to love at budget prices. I got handmade beaded earrings for $2. Janna and I snagged sterling silver necklace chains for $8. And we both fell in love with with Ben’s Hot and Cold.
Ben Kroesen is a Tampa-area retiree who has teamed up with his wife and a half-dozen friends around the country to supply photos and frames for these create-your-own art pieces. You choose from dozens of photos that represent letters and he puts them together in clever frames that he builds. (The friends take pictures and share them, and Ben’s son, a high school art teacher in Indiana, offers his students the opportunity to shoot letters and sell them, so there are lots of choices.)
He charges $5 per letter, plus $5 for the frame. And piecing together your masterpiece is a whole lot of crafty fun. Janna and I were thrilled with our little masterpieces, which I can’t show you because — shhhh — they’re birthday gifts.
Ben’s Hot and Cold is also a regular at the Saturday Market, but if you’d like to contact him, call (813) 667-6692 or email email@example.com.
We also met Rita and her daughter Barbara who, along with others in the family, enjoy hanging out on Mom’s porch in Riverview creating art from trash.
These “lighten-ing bug” garden stakes sell for about $2.
I picked up a “Grow dammit!” sign for my mom’s flowerbed — $5. (Her bed can use the help.)
This talented family has all kinds of unusual creations, including 3D picture frames filled with colored glass that glow in the sun. “We don’t have a lot of overhead; it’s all trash,” Barbara says. “We just like getting together and making things.”
I loved their artfully decorated windows — above with Rita. Their enterprise is called Our Stuff. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (813) 651-1424.
They Ybor City Saturday Market is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, October through April, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May through September. Before you pay to park (like Janna and I did) check the signs. A lot of the city lots don’t charge during the day.
If you don’t eat at the market, check out Acropolis Greek Taverna just around the corner at 1833 E. 7th Ave. Sitting outside enjoying the scrumptious saganaki appetizer was a perfect Saturday afternoon top off.