Dan Ewing quit his day job with the State of Alaska last month to focus on his emerging leather works business. The late nights of keeping up with orders from around the globe were becoming too taxing, so now his passion has become his full-time job.
He doesn’t have a store in Juneau — yet — but his renowned leather, along with artwork from about 15 local artists, are available in his booth at the Juneau Public Market this weekend.
“It’s funny, I’m not really well known here in Juneau, but I have orders coming in from around the world,” said Ewing, the owner of Ewing Dry Goods.
One portion of his craft is combining leather — a medium he chose because of its durability — with bones from deer, bear, whale and other animals from Southeast Alaska. He does all his sewing by hand.
“It gets better with age,” Ewing said of leather. “I love how it gets better ... it’s timeless.”
Ewing is just one of about 170 vendors who have set up booths in Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts and Culture Center this weekend for the 2013 Juneau Public Market, which ends today at 5 p.m.
Thousands of people have been browsing the wares from the vendors from Alaska and the Lower 48, with goods including jewelry, crafts, knives, furs, leather works, jams and jellies, homemade soaps, pottery, clothing and more.
Visitors to the Public Market — which started in 1983 and has since grown into an annual tradition for early Christmas shoppers — said this year is more vibrant than in past events.
“It appears our economy is improving some if you have the number of quality items on sale here,” said Jamie Marks, a 21-year Juneau resident. “When people engage in artistic endeavors, it indicates the times are getting better.”
He added that the event seemed more crowded both in terms of vendors and visitors this year than in recent ones.
“It was hard for people to find extra money to spend on gift items,” he said.
The event concludes today at 5 p.m. and the admission fee for the Centennial Hall portion is $7 for the weekend. The Juneau Arts and Culture Center has free admission.