Five years ago, Stu Alden, co-owner of Ink Lounge, started ManCraft, a holiday market for male crafters, with a roster of eleven artisans. His goal was to give males a voice in holiday markets and a place to show off their crafts, and ManCraft succeeded far beyond his expectations, growing to include more than eighty artisans last year. ManCraft unfortunately won't be back in 2016, but Stu Alden and his wife, Nicky, his partner at Ink Lounge, have decided to move on to other things.
We recently sat down with Stu Alden to talk about what's next for Ink Lounge.
Westword: Now that you’re not doing ManCraft, what’s next?
Stu Alden: We’re not doing ManCraft this year, for a great many reasons. We’ve decided to refocus that energy into smaller events, so what our First Fridays will become we’ve started to refer to as micro markets. We wanted to reinvent First Fridays for us. We are part of the Art District on Santa Fe, but we’re also off the path a little bit because we’re not directly on Santa Fe. All of our First Fridays are going to have a theme. The first is “Celebrate Ink,” which made sense for the first one we’re doing this way.
Who’s involved in this month’s micro market?
We have invited three vendors that tie into the theme for the night. There’s Idarado Lighting, Dead Dog Chocolate and Elevation Creations. So with Idarado Lighting, Dave takes liquor bottles and turns them into lamps and hanging lights. Since our theme is Celebrate Ink and everything is about drinking and celebrating and toasting, Elevation Creations makes these cheese boards and wine-holders, and of course wine and chocolate go really well together, as well, for celebrating. And these three people will be with us for the first three as we’re trying this out.
We’re not charging the vendors anything. It’s just more a sense of community. It’s some people we’ve worked with in the past, and we really like their personalities, we respect their work, and what they do is unique. It gives us a chance to sort of cross-promote each other in a little different way. I think it’ll be fun. We’ve got this great space to host events. We’ve got 37,000 square feet here; it’s just nice when we get the chance to bring people in.
What do you anticipate this first micro market will entail?
We’ll do a screenprinting activity that’s friendly to all ages. We’ll be printing little drink cozies, so people can come in, and while supplies last, it’ll be free for them to print a cozie: little “Ninth Anniversary, Ink Lounge” cozies. We’re making new drinking-themed art prints and cozies ourselves, and tea towels and posters, so we’ll have new art on the wall as well.
Do you have plans already in place for the coming months?
In November we’re going to be doing “In Good Taste,” which is all about the home and leading up to Thanksgiving. So the vendors are Red Camper, which makes jams and jellies, and K-Sauce. Both of them have recipes on their websites about how to use their products in food preparation. Then in December we’ll do “Holiday Lights,” where [one of the vendors will be] Mr. Christmas, who does these little miniature dioramas. We’ve known Scott for six or seven years now and watched his work evolve in amazing ways over this time. It’s really been neat to see his work grow and become more sophisticated and more whimsical and really well crafted.
So every month we’re looking at doing these little things where there’s a theme that goes with it. We’re starting to put in the vendors as we secure them for those months, and we already have ideas for the spring — like we want to do “Yo Mama” for Mother’s Day. And we want to do the “Dog Days of Summer,” where it’s all animal prints, and “Tanked,” where we do tank tops and T-shirts another month, and find vendors who tie into all these things.
Join the Aldens from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 7, at Ink Lounge Screenprinting Studio, 29 South Fox Street, for the initial First Friday micro market. Find out more at 303 321-7101 or inklounge.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.