By Ally Wright

When crafters Christy Petterson and Shannon Mulkey met in 2004 at Youngblood Gallery, they had no idea what it would lead to in the future. But after getting to know each other’s style and work, they began to discuss the lack of markets in Atlanta for indie crafters like themselves.

“We knew about other, larger craft markets, and I think it was on both of our radars that we were kind of hoping that there was one in Atlanta, and we realized that we could be the ones to start that,” says Mulkey. They started the Indie Craft Experience (ICE), and it has grown into the biggest indie craft festival in the Southeast.

Their next event is the summer ICE show, which will be held June 2-3, at Ambient + Studio. Admission is $5, but this includes free goodies for those who arrive early. The atmosphere at ICE events is fun and festival-like, with food trucks and craft demonstrations. June’s event will have an “Art Swap,” where you can bring a piece of art that you’re tired of (or never really liked) and swap it out for a new one.

Petterson and Mulkey started planning their first ICE event in January 2005, and it was held six months later, in June. Now they host ICE twice a year and have added two new shows. February’s Wedding Day Hooray offers brides-to-be the opportunity to find everything they need for their wedding in one day, from invitations and dresses to table decorations and photographers. The event is designed to make the bride’s job easy and fun and ensure that her wedding is full of those unique, handmade items that will make it truly special.

The ICE pop-up holiday boutique is another fun endeavor. In 2011, it popped up at Criminal Records in Little Five Points and lasted for all of December, providing Little Five Points visitors with an extra, hyper-local option for holiday gifts.

Mulkey and Petterson describe the aesthetic of their shows as “unusual” with motifs that aren’t traditionally used in high-end crafts and are “a little edgier.” You’re more likely to see typewriters, skulls and crossbones, roller skates and octopuses decorating the crafts than the old-fashioned duck or geese prints. The crafters run their own booths, adding that personal touch of being able to “get the story behind the piece and learn about the artist directly,” Mulkey says.

“I think when we originally started that we wanted a venue for our own work. We didn’t totally fit into the Inman Park Festival or the other festivals, so we wanted something that was more of an indie-modern craft festival. But as the show’s grown, we support other businesses, we help other businesses grow and try out products and find an audience,” says Mulkey.

For more information on events or how to apply to be a vendor, visit ice-atlanta.com.

This article is part of Atlanta INtown’s partnership with the freelance writing class at SCAD-Atlanta. Students are contributing articles, video and photos for our website and social media portals. Visit AtlantaINtownPaper.com to read more.

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.