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Craft show has Americana theme

November 16, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

It's mid-November, and that means the season has rolled around for craft shows.

Crafts of all description are on display this weekend at the Americana Arts & Crafts Christmas Holiday Faire, running from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. today at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic Recreation Community Center.

Organizer Clara Stine of Hagerstown said that this year there were close to 100 exhibitors, who came from all over to sell their wares.

Some of the most popular items so far have been Christmas florals, woodcrafts, Christmas trees and candles, she said.

Shoppers seeking unique holiday gifts have plenty to choose from - pottery, leather goods, doll clothes, hand-painted glassware, even scented pine cones.

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Gifts for the discerning palate are also available, from seafood cream soups to fudge to gourmet dip mixes. And Fido isn't left out - there's a booth for specialty pet treats.

Behind all those one-of-a-kind craft items is a lot of time and effort.

Mert Diehl of Buffalo Mills, Pa., has been selling her Victorian-styled creations at the fair for 12 years, she said. She started out making items to decorate her own home, she said, and people would ask her to make items for theirs. Soon, Diehl said, she was making so much for local people she decided to branch out. Now, "we have a trailer and a big truck" to transport her goods to craft shows, she said.

She often works on her projects in bulk, but said she tries to make each one a little different. She estimated that one of her signature pieces, a fabric- and floral-covered hat box, takes about 30 minutes to make.

Like Diehl, Bobbi and Ken Wivell of Smithsburg have watched their craft enterprise develop from items they painted for their own home. "Somebody said, you could make some money off of this," Bobbi Wivell said.

Bobbi Wivell takes gourds, porch spindles, driftwood and other items and reclaims them as decorative pieces. "Sometimes we just go junking" to find things to turn into art, she said.

Their friends have gotten into the act by leaving cast-off items at their home, Ken Wivell said. "Sometimes we'll go home and stuff will be sitting on the back porch," he said.

Practicality was the mother of invention for Arlene Roccafort of Morris, N.J. She invented her "door huggers," elasticized fabric bands that wrap around doors, to hold Christmas cards and decorations because she was looking for a way to hang decorations without marring her doors.

She patented her design, and adapted it to a smaller version to use as bookmarks. She's now the proprietor of Hugger Enterprises.

Karen Wade, a high school art teacher from Terra Alta, W.Va., works with stained glass, turning it into frames, jewelry, ornaments and wind chimes. "It makes a great gift for people who have everything," she said. Preparing the glass takes some time, she said, and for that her husband Jeff helps out.

Wade said she tries to make each design a little different "to keep myself from getting bored." And while she said preparing enough of her designs to take to a show can sometimes seem like working on an assembly line, "most of the time it seems like play."

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