Iconic Home Décor

– Only at the Public Market –

You say your home has a vaulted ceiling? Surely a driftwood-constructed humpback whale dreamily adrift in all that space would be just the thing.

No? How about an eagle or raven made of artfully assembled, well-worn sticks?

And does the empty wall space above the fireplace cry out for something akin to a trophy elk? You say slaying a noble beast isn’t on your bucket list? Then consider one of Tamar Harrison’s richly ironic, driftwood elk trophies.

Or perhaps a wooden polar bear for the trophy wall?

Although the Skagway artist has yet to be asked to craft a representation of the iconic Arctic predator, “I would have a damned good go at it,” she says with a laugh. “And I do take commissions.”

Tamar will happily answer questions (and take commissions) while presenting a wide array of craftwork at the Public Market in Centennial Hall during Thanksgiving weekend.

Her favorite question: “Where do you get your materials?” Answer: “Well, it just sort of washes in.”

While Harrison has made a name for herself with driftwood animals — on display in several Skagway stores and at Annie Kaill’s Gallery in Juneau — she also creates artfully designed mirrors and stylish wall clocks that would fit in any living space however small.

The strongest demand is for Harrison’s jewelry. She mostly uses sterling silver but loves to combine copper, brass, and a wide array of other up-cycled and found materials, including small elements of “tidal drift,” the name of her business.

A voice coach would recognize Tamar’s accent as characteristic of Swindon, England (about an hour west of London), where she grew up. Wanting an adventure, Harrison traveled to the United States where she found work at a summer camp in Minnesota teaching dance, drama, and art to adults and children with developmental disabilities. It was there, in 1998, that she met her future husband Sam  Palmersten. A generation earlier, Sam’s parents met, and were married, at the same camp.

Sam and Tamar married in 2002. A year later Alaska beckoned and the two found themselves in Skagway for their first summer. After several years of seasonal work and traveling the world, they became official “year-rounders.” Five years ago they built their house in the upper Lynn Canal community. Skagway has a resident population of about 1,000 that expands a thousand-fold (to one million) during the summer season.

Tamar’s work can be found elsewhere, but only at the Public Market can Juneau residents meet her and gain a deeper appreciation for her craft.

Many other artists and crafters will present décor-appropriate items at the Public Market including large format paintings and photographs, ceramic and clay pots, tableware, quilts, and lamps, as well as kitchen containers and the jams, pickles, herbs and spices to fill them.

But as anyone who has attended the event over the past 35 years can attest, décor items may be prominent, but vendors sell all manner of jewelry, apparel, out-door gear, Alaska themed gifts, and food items.

This year, there will be more vendors than ever — nearly 200 from throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest — who will present at Southeast Alaska’s premier holiday gift show. Increasing demand, and a likely near-future demolition of the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (to make way for the “New Juneau Arts and Culture Center”) led event organizers to rent a second annex, the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, one block north of Centennial wHall and the JACC.

The two Public Market annexes — at the JACC and the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall — will each feature drawings for door prizes that can be entered only at these two venues. A shuttle bus will be in a continuous loop for the convenience of shoppers.

The Public Market begins Friday, November 23, and will be open from noon to 7 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

For more information, see juneaupublicmarket.com or “Alaska-Juneau Public Market” on FaceBook.