Sunday, November 27, 2011

The  Woman's Industrial Exchange located at 333 North Charles Street, was originally created after the Civil War to allow women in need a way to earn a living from their crafts.  Today the Exchange  is Baltimore's headquarters for all things crafty with an active craft shop, soon to re-open tearoom, apartment and space rentals, and full offering of craft classes.  Shop manager Melika Carr agreed to sit down with us (okay, to sit down with her computer) to talk about the Exchange and share a few photos of crafty things you can find in the shop this holiday season.  (Full disclosure: the author if this blog is the proprietor of Baltimore Soaps and More Barbara Stratton who consigns at the Exchange.)

CCC: The  Woman's Industrial Exchange tearoom used to be known as "The longest continually operating tearoom at a Woman's Industrial Exchange in the United States." Since then its been kind of touch and go.  Is it now known as, "Formerly the longest continually operating tearoom at a Woman's Industrial Exchange that has since closed and re-opened a few times and is now re-opening in the very near future?"

MC:  It probably should even though the real heart of the Exchange has always been the gift shop.  Still, some people are highly insulted by the lack of the tearoom.  If you do miss the old tearoom - or just want to support a local business - then you should really donate to the funds being raised for its re-opening.  Please see the campaign on kickstarter here.

CCC: What exactly is aspic?

MC:  You know, I had never heard of tomato aspic until I came to work at the Exchange.   From what I now understand (and there is very little that I DO understand about tomato aspic) it is some form of punishment for children who refuse to eat their vegetables.  I'm totally kidding.  It's tomato soup gelatin.  So, you know...yum...

CCC:  What craft items for sale at the Exchange are you most excited about for this holiday season?

MC:  I am super excited about some of the new items we've seen coming into the store this season.  We already have some brand new leather bound and map journals, button jewelry, really cute wooden toys, as well as our usual knitted favorites:  pulse warmers, along with some newer creations like "smoke ring" and "bow tie" scarves.  I'm also anticipating many new items from other consignors including some new some items from a certain Ms. Barbara Stratton from Baltimore Soaps!

CCC:  Do many of your shop's consignors also sell their crafts on Etsy?

MC:  We actually only have about a handful of people that sell their crafts on Etsy.  Mostly because we at the Exchange are jealous and don't want our consignors seeing other selling venues even if they're only friends!!  Only kidding...we have one of those open relationships because we're hip like that.

CCC:  Who is your absolute favorite consignor of unscented, artisan natural soaps and other body products?

MC:  That's a tough one seeing as we only have one! ;)  Also, I believe I plugged Baltimore Soaps in the last question!  Baltimore Soaps is actually our exclusive soapmaker since we don't like having too many strong scents around some of our other merchandise.  Plus they are just plain awesome, I mean Beer and Egg Shampoo??   Why are you not in the store buying it right now??

CCC:  If you decide to have children in the future, know of any awesome area midwives who could help you with your birth?

MC:  Well, I don't know if I'm allowed to say her name but we'll just say that it rhymes with Baren Barr.


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