Craft vendors show off their wares, frontier style

August 08, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

HAGERSTOWN - Beverly Seilhamer's strong short fingers wove the softened wooden strips through each other until the form started to take the shape of a basket Saturday at the 32nd annual Jonathan Hager Frontier Craft Days.

Seilhamer, 71, of Daycotah Avenue, has been weaving baskets for 18 years. She learned the craft from an 82-year-old woman in Florida. The first one she made won $375 at a show in Florida, she said.

Seilhamer was one of 55 crafters and artisans who set up booths around the lawn of the 265-year-old Jonathan Hager House at City Park in Hagerstown this weekend for the event.


The crafts on display and for sale over the two-day event are supposed to be representative of what colonial settlers made to meet the necessities of life, said John Bryan, a historical interpreter at the Hager House.

"They made baskets, pottery, glass and furniture," Bryan said.

A walk among the booths Saturday showed a variety of arts and crafts. There was stained glass, different kinds of jewelry, woodwork, quilts, paintings and photographs, furniture, handmade pens and other instruments.

Of particular interest was the Nature Depot. It featured jewelry made from butterflies, moths and cicadas. Owners Cindy and Mike Soukup of Severn, Md., buy butterflies from a farm, raise their own moths and had no trouble finding cicadas with their once-every-17-years emergence earlier this summer.

More than 60 people toured the Hager House Saturday, Bryan said. The house will be open again today for tours on the half-hour. Interpreters in period dress conduct the tours.

Music on Saturday was provided by Whippoorwill, a couple from West Virginia, and dulcimer players Penny Hall, Mary Dailey and Ken Kolodner.

Today, Bona Fide, an acoustic duo, takes the stage at noon and 2 p.m. Driftwood, another acoustic group, plays at 1 and 3 p.m.

Seilhamer said her basketry helps her pass the time since her husband died in February. She and Paul Seilhamer had been married for 53 years, she said.

"It's very relaxing and it fills the void," Seilhamer said. "It also helps you mentally. So many people, when they reach a certain age, want to flop down and not do anything."

This is the second year Seilhamer has set up her booth at the Hagerstown show and the first time she was asked to demonstrate her craft at the show, she said.

Seilhamer is preparing for her biggest show of the year, a fall festival in Thurmont, Md., in October. She has to bring about 250 baskets to that show.

"I'm going to have to hustle," she said.

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