WATCH: From studios to sales: Black Friday Night Market features unique art finds to back local artists

Vendors sell their handmade products during the Black Friday Night Market on Nov.24. (Yiqing Wang/MEDILL)
Vendors sell their handmade products during the Black Friday Night Market on Nov. 24. (Yiqing Wang/MEDILL)

By Yiqing Wang
Medill Reports

Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro organized its annual Black Friday Night Market on Nov. 24. Featuring fine handmade goods by Chicago-area artists, the market stood out this year with the participation of four teenage artists and a diverse selection of crafts from jewelry to unusual textiles and paintings.




Yiqing Wang: If you are looking for a Chicago market during Thanksgiving, the Black Friday Night Market is a must-go. Located on the second floor of Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro in North Center, this market brought refreshing handmade goods by local artists.


Debbie Solomon: I’m a jeweler. I make silver jewelry, and I’ve been in a lot of markets. And when the woman who was running this market didn’t want to do it anymore, the Irish Bistro, she asked me if I would like to run it.


Wang: With hundreds of markets in Chicago each year, the Black Friday Night Market stood out by its special selection of goods and support for local young artists.


Solomon: This is a curated show that means that everybody’s here because they’ve been chosen to go here. They all have to apply.


Wang: Not only do vendors have to send photos of their work, but also they need to have diverse samples for the application. In this market, everything has to be handmade.


Solomon: We have four children selling things. We are encouraging young artists, young entrepreneurs. So not only are we running a show here for adults, but we’re encouraging young artists.


Wang: The Black Friday Night Market also aims to promote innovative techniques that may be unfamiliar to the public.


Bonnie Retzik: If you put a sweater in hot water, it felts. It just becomes smaller. So, when I get the sheep wooling, I put hot, soapy water on it, and I manipulate it with my hands into the shape I want. You can do a lot of felting by knitting. You can get great big things, and then you reduce them in size.


Wang: For other people like Leslie Roycroft, working with alcohol ink for 20 years made her realize the charm of wiping things off and starting over again.


Leslie Roycroft: I think one of the coolest things about it, the paper allows you to, I mean, you can sit there with soap and water and wash it, and nothing will happen. But you take the alcohol and let’s say you don’t like your painting at all. You can put it right on there and wipe the whole thing off. I spent about two weeks on it and just started racing parts of it, and then suddenly the whole thing was gone. And I think in one night I finished it. So, like this completely new painting. So that’s something I like about. It’s very forgiving.


Wang: The Black Friday Night Market is not just a place for selling, but also an adventure for customers to know different types of art and support local artists. I’m Yiqing Wang from Medill Reports


Yiqing Wang is an investigative graduate student at Medill. You can connect her on Linkedin.