The suns are setting sooner now and the weather is becoming more brisk, so to shift into holiday spirit, I attended the Malta Artisan Autumn Market.
Expecting to merely browse and snap a few photos for my blog, I came out with no money and a handbag full of business cards. It wasn’t even Christmas presents that I spent all my money on. No, no, it was all for me! I went out that night just to show off all my new jewelry. And I usually have so much self-control… What happened?!
The artisan market this year was fantastic and the commodities on the table were absolutely irresistible!
This year’s Malta Artisan Autumn Market was held in the Senglea Local Council building in Isla, coinciding with the Senglea Maritime Festival. The charming view from the terrace stretching across the Vittoriosa Marina to beautiful Birgu, put me in a delightful enough mood to pull out my wallet and spread early Christmas shopping cheer. So on Day 2 of the Autumn Market, I came back with a recharged wallet; however this time around, I spent my money on Christmas presents to give away! I just couldn’t resist.
Upon entering the market, I recognized the first table I laid eyes on- Bobo Star, a whimsical, one of a kind jewelry business launched by Sam Minkovski, an international artist with an eye for precious gems and groovy bohemian style. This designer has been studying crystals and their energies, creating countless pieces that I’ve sought after for far too long now. I finally bought a gem from Bobo Star which I have been wearing around my neck ever since.
I then stepped outside to gaze at the view over the harbor, when my eyes narrowed in on another jewelry stand with familiar pieces. Or should I say, familiar piece… This ring though! I have had my eyes on this ring ever since the day I saw it in the middle of Sam’s middle finger. This midi ring that Sam had bought, which I thought was the only one of its kind, had a twin! And the twin was on display right before my eyes! I couldn’t resist. Cha ching! 2 points for Sacha, zero for her wallet. The jeweler, Andrew Vella Montague of Dragonlord Creations, has immaculate experience with precious metalwork, semi-precious stones, and jewelry design along with a vast collection of accessories for men and women.
Another sought after piece that is high ranking on my wish list now is a necklace, designed by La Belle Handmade Jewelry, with a center stone resembling a Calla Lilly, made of White Jade. Accompanying the lily shaped stone are freshwater pearls, 14k gold fillets, white brass, Lapiz Lazuli stones, and tiny Japanese seeds, all beaded together with a regal blue silk tassel hanging from the middle. This beautiful, one of a kind necklace is to die for, as are the rest of Shirley Xie Mazeaud’s unique designs.
Also available in the jewelry department was Firecrafted, a contemporary jeweler working with precious metals, semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, and even Swarovski elements. Silvana Mallia, the designer and creator behind Firecrafted, crafts her jewelry with such feminine style, creating accessories exuding a rich elegance. Viewing the newest pieces in her collection is like viewing a gallery’s latest exhibition.
I also visited a newer jewelry stall- one that was less familiar to me but left me pleasantly surprised. Busy Beads, an experimental jeweler, has an immense collection of all different kinds of jewelry with beads ranging from metal to stone and glass. When faced with so many options, one must be careful not to let their wallet get ahead of themselves. Once you see these must-have pieces, you won’t be able to buy just one.
RG Silk Sensations graced this year’s Malta Artisan Autumn Market once again with her brilliant hand painted silk scarves and handbags. Watching Rosita Gasiunaite, in her element, as she paints these silk fabrics stretched widely across her canvas, is something truly captivating. The gleaming fabric and paint shining under the bright lights as she works is enough to pull on your heartstrings as your head demands that your hands pull that wallet out once again so that you can take that precious piece back home with you.
Speaking of pulling on heartstrings, when I saw that Paint My Dream was present at the market, displaying their handmade, painted home decorations, pastel colors pleasantly decorating their table, I waltzed over right away and picked out something special for my roommate. These charming little painted decorations are so trendy and adorable; it didn’t take long for me to come up with an excuse to buy one. From ornaments to wall hangings to jewelry dishes, buying these kitschy items becomes an addiction!
Another great artisan, who has mastered the art of home décor, is Robbie Mazzaro, creator of Ro Art Ceramics. She had wall hangings, plant holders, bowls, tiles, and even ceramic jewelry on display, each piece possessing its own character and technique.
When it comes to character, there is one artisan who shines at every artisan fair I’ve ever attended in Malta. Berivan Serin and her one-of-a-kind animated stone paintings are one of the best parts about attending these artisan fairs. These small decorations display the most adorable little painted characters and a selection of inspirational life quotes. With her warm, welcoming smile and her delightful stone paintings, visiting Berivan’s table is always a pleasant experience, leaving you with positive thoughts and unique home decorations.
Another unique find at this Autumn Market was the immaculate bowl and vase collection created by wood turner, Paul Singleton. A true master of his craft, Paul offers burnished décor made from wood found on the beaches of Gozo. As I spoke with him about the stories of his work, I began to realize just how talented and dedicated he is as an artist; and it clearly shows through his masterfully created merchandise.
Also present, another extremely talented artist using wood as his medium, was the enthusiastic Billy behind Billy’s Craftwork, presenting his enticing wall hangings. The Jack Daniels wall hanging was the first one that caught my eye, and as my eyes drifted across his collection, I noticed the iconic Charlie Chaplin on another wall adornment. Mental note: add this one to my wish list, too. I was already imagining ole’ Chaplin hanging in my living room. It’s about time I do something about my landlord’s terrible taste in decoration.
And as my mind was dancing with thoughts of decorating, I saw the table full of candles! What is it with girls and candles? High on euphoria, I sniffed all of the pleasant variations of smells that Burlesque’s soy candles had to offer, and without hesitation, pulled my wallet out again and took some goodies home. Joanne Montebello not only has a large variety of aromatic soy candle flavors but also a strong awareness of different kinds of people and their preferred scents. She is a true expert when it comes to candle shopping for Christmas gifts and her advice is spot on.
Another yummy candle company on display, My Melts, had a vast array of delicious flavors in adorable heart shaped soy candles. Beginning this company here in Malta, Stacey Abela has been producing these little hearts for several years; and now offers custom-made ‘My Melts’ candle burners as well.
I saw one of my favorite Maltese artists at the Autumn Market, with her ink drawings, oil paintings, prints, and trendy printed coffee mugs! Her eclectic use of bright colors and playful patterns draw me in every time. Stephanie Borg is definitely an experienced artist whose consistent image tells stories of her love for color, pattern, and texture.
One thing that we all love during the holidays is food; and Mario Refalo knows good food! His consistent appearance at artisan markets with his Homemade Seasonal Chutneys is a surefire way to spread the holiday cheer. I’m hooked on his chutneys here in Malta and my family is hooked on them over in America. They should know what they’re getting for Christmas… With flavors like pumpkin and carrots, banana and almonds, apple and pears, aubergines and onions… how could you possibly resist?
Other irresistible treats, taunting me as I walked around the market included truffles, pastries, cookies, and cupcakes from Desirably Yours. These delicious delicacies are handmade seasonally in small batches here in Malta. Their sweet holiday packaging makes these artistic treats the perfect gifts to send away, if you don’t indulge in them first.
But if you choose to indulge, who’s to judge? I certainly indulged last weekend and walked out of the Malta Artisan Autumn Market with several new goodies to gloat about. This market offered just about everything you could possibly want from an artisan fair, all packed inside that quaint little scenic Senglea Council building. But for those of you who missed out on this fantastic market, have no fear because the Christmas Market is soon here! On the 28th and 29th of November, these artisans, and many more, will have their latest goodies on display for your Christmas shopping needs or for your own sweet self-indulgence. Go on, live a little!