Still Crackerjack after 20 years

On May 3, 1986, Kathleen Koch's search for a unique wedding gift inspired her to open up a gallery of handcrafted works at the Wallingford Center.

"I was the first one to occupy the space I'm currently in," Koch said. "It's been really nice because I've had so many [Wallingford] customers over the years, and I've watched their kids grow up."

Her gallery, Crackerjack Contemporary Crafts, currently represents more than 200 artists from the Seattle area and throughout the United States who work in a range of media, including gems, glass, ceramics, paper and pewter. Some of the represented artists are also from France, Belgium and Canada.

In addition, Koch noted that the gallery also sells handmade toys made by a family from Mexico who has been making them since 1945.

"A lot of [customers] enjoy the fact that they are supporting artists," she said.

Precious pieces

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, the gallery will have a sale on selected items through July 30.

Also, New York artist Ed Levin, who creates classic jewelry with a contemporary appeal, has donated one of his sterling silver bracelets to raffle off during the sale.

Crackerjack is especially known for its jewelry collection, with pieces ranging in price from $5 to $200.

"Something for every pocketbook," Koch noted.

Fremont resident Susanna Prince sells her jewelry and glasswork at the gallery year-round. Her works have been presented at Crackerjack for almost a decade.

She originally learned of Crackerjack from a jeweler friend. "I like its location," Prince said. "I really enjoy the atmosphere of the Wallingford Center."

Much of Prince's work includes freshwater pearl and silver jewelry. Prince's works are also on display at Fremont's Frank & Dunya, among other places.

In addition to jewelry, Crackerjack also carries home accents, fine soaps, personal accessories and clothing. The store's name, Crackerjack, refers to the excellent quality of each handpicked product.

"I'm always interested in variety," Koch said, adding that she has a fondness for each item she sells at her store.

Koch draws on her formal education in art to choose the items. She has been a juror and an attendee with the Northwest Crafts Alliance and most recently as a newly elected member of its board of directors. Koch's mission is to foster an appreciation for handmade crafts, she said.

"It just amazes me that it's been 20 years," Koch said of her store. "I find the handmade items so invigorating, that it keeps my interest alive."

Crackerjack Contemporary Crafts is located in Suite 212 of the Wallingford Center, 1815 N. 45th St.

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