Meet Your Merchant: Gathered Handmade

By Cheri March

It’s hard not to smile when you walk into the colorful world of Gathered Handmade in Ferndale, where saturated, spirit-lifting hues, from bubblegum pink and turquoise blue to mint green and marigold yellow, grace nearly every nook and cranny.

The vibrant vintage market, which opened early last year, is the perfect fit for a Main Street lined with Painted Ladies—and for owner and local artist Andra Stringer, whose personal style gravitates toward the whimsical, eclectic and, yes, very bright. (“I love color, especially pink and turquoise,” Stringer says, “but I realize I can’t paint everything those colors!”)

Stringer’s Ferndale roots run deep; her grandmother, Audrey Lourenco was born in the Gingerbread Mansion during the 1920s, when it still served as a hospital, and her father, Lynn Lourenco, runs the celebrated Ferndale Museum.

“I chose Ferndale for my business because I love its history and the atmosphere that the other merchants have created on Main Street,” she says.

After graduating Ferndale High School, Stringer went on to Sonoma State University and began her career as a professional photographer with Andra Stringer Photography, later graduating with a BA in Studio Art from Humboldt State University in Arcata. She picked up crafting while helping her middle daughter, then 8, with a craft business, and soon fell in love with the craft fair/maker circuit, selling her work at local shows including Humboldt Artisans, The Fig Twig Market, and The Humboldt Junkies.

Stringer specializes in repurposing existing pieces into candy-colored, vintage inspired works of art, from her Shimmery Stuff line of pendants—crafted from upcycled Scrabble tiles and locally manufactured resin—to Marguerite Vintage Art, found vintage art transferred onto handpainted distressed wooden boards.

“I had people asking where they could buy my product lines locally, so I decided to go into the ‘making’ business full time and opened Gathered Handmade on Main Street in March 2016,” she says.

Gathered Handmade fulfills Stringer’s vision of gathering together local artists, from watercolorists to artisan soap makers, in one common marketplace. Currently the shop features 15 vendors, including Alphabet Soup Photography, Amy's Almost Perfect, Soaps by Liza Jane, Alice Shaw Art, Rustic Occasions, Miralily, Carnival Girl Designs, Sweet Evergreen, Carol's Furniture, One Sparrow Designs, Essence Of Humboldt, and Wildflower.

Every item in Gathered Handmade is locally handcrafted, vintage, or upcycled, part of a bigger vintage-meets-modern trend that’s sweeping the nation. The Eel River Valley is no exception, with its immensely popular Fig Twig Holiday Market at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds (Nov. 3-4, 2017) and this weekend’s Humboldt Junkies Trailer Rally and Vintage Market (June 16-17, 2017) in Fortuna.

Stringer will have a booth at Redway-based Humboldt Junkies’ fun retro-filled flea market extravaganza, which includes live music, a vintage photo booth, food and drinks, and rare tours of vintage tin can “glamper” travel trailers.

Browse booths and vintage trailers from 4-9pm Friday, June 16 and 9am-3pm Saturday, June 17 under the redwoods at Rohner Park in Fortuna. Admission is $8 on Friday (includes free admittance on Saturday) and $3 Saturday. Tickets are available at Gathered Handmade.

Shop Gathered Handmade from 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday at 399 Main Street in Ferndale, or online via Etsy.

Trailer Rally photo courtesy of Humboldt Junkies. All other photos by Leon Villagomez.