By Tina Chadwick

It’s so hard to find those one of a kind things that make you go “oh, cool” the moment you see them. Sure, you can forage the boutiques, which is always fun, but they are smattered in locations all over town so it will take most of a day and a tank of gas.

Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to go to one place and see a hundred artist’s works and crafter’s wares with the added bonus of meeting the creators in person? ICE is the answer.

The Indy Craft Experience is a two-day event that has taken place in Atlanta since it’s humble beginnings in 2005. Shannon Mulkey, Susan Voelker and Christy Petterson are the trio of talent behind Atlanta’s crown jewel event for crafters.

After traveling to shows around the country such as the Austin Craft Mafia and Stitch (also in Austin) and the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, the three decided to put Atlanta on the crafter’s map. Two of the three were just leaving town on another trip, this time to DC for the Crafty Bastards show, but carved out time to talk about the development of ICE.

“We wanted to create a very cool, hip marketplace to give people exposure to amazing artists and crafters you wouldn’t necessarily ever run across,” says Mulkey.

Mission accomplished. From moderate applications the first year, ICE now gets hundreds of hopefuls wanting a spot at the event.

“It’s overwhelming,” sighs Mulkey. “We get applications from all over the country and we have to make tough, tough decisions.” This year, ICE had to turn down 50 percent of people who applied.

“We try to have a diverse group and we’re so limited in space we have to cap it at 100,” she says.

When asked what they look for when screening applications, they list “fit and aesthetic.” Mulkey clarifies, “Sometimes it’s very professional and the work is impeccable, but doesn’t reach the right target. We make sure there is enough variety to appeal to a wide range of people.”

Petterson agrees: “Quality is important. We encourage first timers, but need quality of construction for the show. We might like the concept, but it all needs to me made well.” When asked what still gets them excited, they both agree, “We like people who use traditional skills with modern twist…when people do something new.”

This year’s ICE Show is Nov. 20 and 21 at Ambient + Studio, 585 Wells St. SW, and will feature the official ICE DJ, DJ Zano. There will be a MODA-DIY (Do It Yourself) gift-wrap area and Leah & Mark will set up a cool photo booth with props.

Official ICE sponsors will also participate including Burnaway, Mailchimp, Whipstitch Fabric, Youngblood Gallery, MODA and Tweet Design. There are also fun food vendors to feed your tummy while your mind feasts on the many creations.

If you still want the intimate feel of a boutique, the Woodruff Arts Center reached out to ICE to collaborate on a Pop-Up Shop sponsored by the Alliance Theatre. There’s a special opening night on Black Friday, Nov. 26, with special black bags to the first round of shoppers, food, music and other surprises. The goal of pop up shop is to make Woodruff a holiday shopping destination and expose a new crowd to the ICE experience.

“The Woodruff Arts Center is the hub of our creative community so it’s a great tie in for the craft population to be there,” Petterson says. “We’re super excited and furiously working on all the details because it’s such a big deal and exciting to be working with the Woodruff and the Alliance.”

For more about the upcoming show, visit www.ice-atlanta.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.