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Jewelry is artist's signature

June 07, 2000|By MEG H. PARTINGTON

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - Leanne Cobb weaved a niche for herself out of wire.

Merging the business education she received from James Madison University with her creative abilities, she started a wire-sculptured jewelry business out of her Harpers Ferry home. Sterling silver or 14-carat gold are the foundation for Annie's Things.

cont. from lifestyle

Cobb took some jewelry classes at James Madison but did most of her learning at John C. Campbell Folk Art School in North Carolina, which she attended five years ago with her husband, Al Cobb. He wanted to learn more about blacksmithing.

Now she creates jewelry using assorted materials. Glass, brown goldstone, malachite, gold-filled and silver beads and Austrian crystal add sparkle to the wire.

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After two unsuccessful rounds through the jurying process, Cobb was accepted into this year's Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival. She will display her wares along with about 200 other craftspeople at the festival, scheduled for Friday, June 9, through Sunday, June 11, at Sam Michaels' Park near Harpers Ferry.

Among her creations are a variety of decorative bugs, perhaps the most unique being her Christmas spiders. The arachnids with multicolored cloisonn bodies and a hook for hanging come with a card bearing the tale of the Christmas spider, adapted from a Ukrainian folk tale.

According to the story, a family of spiders settled into a Christmas tree in a family's home, weaving a web around it. The Christ child came to the home to bless the tree and was dismayed to see it covered with cobwebs. So he touched the bottom strand, turning the webs to gold, thus creating the first tinsel.

"I have fun with them," says Cobb, 39, of her bugs, which include pins shaped like dragonflies.

Among the tools she uses are pliers, a file, metal ruler, looper and pen vice for twisting wire into designs. She also uses a device called a ring mandrel, which helps her size and shape rings.

"I sell a ton of rings," says Cobb, whose four younger sisters call her Annie, hence the name of her business.

For $5 each, patrons can pick up to three stones for their rings and come up with a design, which Cobb then creates. She uses dyed fossil stones in a variety of shades, some of which are shaped like hearts.

For a couple of years, Cobb sold her wire designs from a shelf she rented at Earthdance, a store in Leesburg, Va. She also has exhibited Annie's Things at shows in Waterford, Va., and recently sold her works at the National Cathedral flower mart in Washington, D.C.

Cobb also puts her creative talents to use by decorating windows for businesses in Middleburg, Tysons Corner and Vienna, Va., and some houses for Christmas.

"I always had some artistic side," Cobb says.

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-- Mountain heritage info


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