Goodyear Cottage on Jekyll Island was closed to the public on Monday morning, but there was plenty happening behind those historic doors.
Inside, members of the Jekyll Island Arts Association bustled busily upstairs and down, collecting garland and positioning ladders. It was all part of their mission to deck their halls ahead of a special opening next week — the Merry Artists Market.
While there were plenty of helping hands, it was clear that Mark See was steering the operation.
“He’s the head elf,” Jackie Becker said with a chuckle. “He’s the one who got us all into this.”
Becker, a Jekyll Island Arts Association board member and Goodyear shop manager, sat with painter Linda Wunder and Carla Price, JIAA president, in the cottage’s kitchen. They were part of the crew of many volunteers who have been working for months to put the pieces in place for the big event.
“I’m on the gallery committee for shows going into Goodyear,” See explained. “About six years ago, we had a cancelation. So there was a potential for a void, and someone came up with the idea of having a small works show. That means the price point was in a certain range. We came up with the term ‘Merry Artists’ because we wanted to run it from Thanksgiving through December.”
Over the years, the market has thrived, and it’s easy to see why. Arts association members turn out a plethora of unique, handcrafted pieces to stock the space. All of the items are available for purchase, starting at $5 and going up to $500, allowing all shoppers to find something within their budget.
“The biggest concern for the show is making sure we have price representation for everybody,” See said.
“We have items that could be stocking stuffers or hostess gifts all the way up to a wonderful gift for a family member. That was a big concern and we’ve stood by that.”
The association, which boasts about 400 members, offers space for hundreds of makers that create items just for this event.
“We have such a wide variety. We have potters and painters. We have trees filled with ornaments,” Wunder said.
“One lady, I think all she does all year is make paper snowflakes,” Becker added.
The market will kickoff at 8 a.m. Nov. 25, coinciding with other Jekyll Island events, titled Holly Jolly Jekyll. From half a million lights strung throughout the historic district to the many Santa sightings reported, the market is a key piece of Jekyll’s Christmas portrait.
“The JIAA has really stepped up and has done so much over the years. A long time ago, we helped decorate the whole historic district but they take care of all of that now and do a great job,” said Wunder, who has been a member since the 90s.
In addition to the sale itself, there will be 80 demonstrations taking place throughout the season. Painters, potters, authors, woodworkers and dozens of other craft folk will appear from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekend, right up to Christmas Eve.
“We will have four different locations (for demonstrations). Some will be outside, like the woodworkers, they will be here for three days in the row. They’ll be outside doing their thing. Robin and Todd Tetterton are coming. He’s going to be making wooden nutcrackers and she’ll be doing a pottery demonstration,” Becker said.
Another highlight will be performances by the Jekyll Island Singers at 2 p.m. Dec. 11 and the Jekyll Island Bellringers at 2 p.m. Dec. 18. All of the activities will take place around Goodyear Cottage, the home of the arts association. There will also be a bake sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3. Proceeds will benefit the Jekyll Island Pottery Guild Relocation fund.
While the opening is still a little over week away, all signs are pointing to a stellar season. The association has branched out to offer custom-designed T-shirts with a design by Chris Dougherty. They’ve already seen a flurry of pre-orders and are taking the interest in this new element as a good omen.
“We had a few submissions for the design, so we got together and chose this one by Chris Dougherty, who’s a painter. He has also won the Shrimp and Grits poster contest,” Becker said. “We’ve sold at least 80 T-shirts and hoodies in the pre-sale. Chris is also going to be here the day after Thanksgiving to sign T-shirts.”
For Becker and Price, the planning proves to be a colossal undertaking but one that’s well worthwhile.
“We start planning a couple of weeks after the previous one ends,” Price explained. “It’s a whole year of planning.”
“I think our first meeting was in May,” Becker said. “We have two big events each year. The one in the spring is three days and this one is 30 days. But we meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends along the way.”
• For more on Jekyll Island’s Christmas celebration, see Lauren McDonald’s story in tomorrow’s Life section.