NORMAL — After Kate Kobak crafted her first backpacks decorated as dragons, she said she started making “baby dragon” bags.
“Then, I truly was a going to be a mother of dragons,” Kobak said, referencing the “Game of Thrones” fantasy TV series. Peer past the zipper into the bag’s innards, and you’ll see flame-print lining to match the product’s scaly exterior.
The 52-year-old Champaign crafter of artsy bags, cat toys and small accessories was one of 32 vendors tabling wares at a Christkindl Market this weekend, hosted by Destihl Brewery & Beer Hall, 1200 Greenbriar Drive, Normal. The market was held Saturday and Sunday, and extended from The Barrel Room and into the brewery sections of the restaurant and beer-producing facility, with the Beer Hall remaining open for dining.
Kobak’s table, for her business named fabrikate, was situated in the corner of The Barrel Room, behind several shelving racks stocked with bags decorated in print artwork.
Kobak said she moved to Champaign from New York City, where she was a dancer for three years. She said she used to make dance costumes too, before getting into the home furnishings business in Brooklyn.
Kobak said she came up with an idea to make a canopy bed for a Chihuahua dog, and had a fun time creating it. She then decided she wanted to start working on more colorful things.
Kobak said she envisioned bags with hidden pockets, bright colors and design collaborations with other local artists. She also noted she likes the idea of functional yet sturdy items.
Other small items her business offered were miniature cat headwear branded as “fabricat in the hat feline fascinators” in the forms of flowers and mushrooms; cat and dog bandannas; and pet-sized bowties and neckties.
Three weeks ago, Kobak said she vended at a holiday art market in Shirley put on by Central Illinois arts collective Artists of the Corn. She said it was “Shuckin’ Awesome,” just like the event name suggests.
Bags that Kobak offers include prints by fellow collective members Jill Miller and Lydia Puddicombe. In addition to dragon-themed bags, she also fashioned bags with “sushi-cat” prints, and a portrait photo of a French bulldog.
That latter option, Kobak said, takes after Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
Kobak and several other vendors took notice of the busy customer traffic at Destihl’s weekend market.
Amanda Stephens, event specialist for Destihl, said they’ve held holiday markets there for at least four years, but this weekend was the second Christkindl Market.
Several hundred were estimated to attend over both days. Stephens said they were super busy on Saturday, with a line tracing out the front door, down the entrance path and to the parking lot; some visitors even parked at Menards and walked over.
She said they only invited vendors of handmade items, including fabrics, candles, woodworking, glass blowing, jewelry and more.
Destihl arranged visits with Santa Claus and a hot cocoa bar, where shoppers could by a decorative, Destihl-branded holiday mug. By the numbers, Stephens said all 72 of their mugs sold out within an hour, and they served 230 cups of cocoa on the first day of the market.
“So much cocoa,” exclaimed Stephens.
She said there was also a cookie crafting station set up by Van Horn Sweets; Normal Public Library prepared a gift-wrapping station; and attendees donating to a Toys for Tots booth were entered into a gift basket drawing.
Stephens said the brewery business will take the month of January off from hosting markets.
Warrensburg’s Shanae Treadwell was another vendor at the market. Under the banner of Timeless Beauty Farms, she offered candles, honey and succulents.
Treadwell said her candles are made from 100% soy, and she keeps two hives on her property. She said her honey is organically treated without chemicals.
She noted Saturday was a really full day at the market, and traffic was picking up by 11 a.m. Sunday.
Treadwell said she was really liking the market, and loved the venue’s atmosphere. The last time she was in the Barrel Room, she said she was there for a wedding and sat only a few feet away from where her market booth was.
Normal’s Rebecca Cope tabled her handmade earrings at the market. She was assisted by her mother, Deb Holdsworth, of Sherrard, who explained their “earl gray clay co.” name originates from Cope working on 4-H crafts as a child with her grandmother.
Cope said she’d make polymer clay projects in the morning, and have tea time with her grandparents in the afternoon. She said choosing that business name was a great way to memorialize the time…
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