Smithsburg woman sells handmade art

Smithsburg artist will display her work at Kris Kringle Holiday Craft Show

Smithsburg artist will display her work at Kris Kringle Holiday Craft Show

November 19, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

SMITHSBURG - When it comes to her art, Bobbi Wivell, 45, believes in whimsy.

As she prepared last week for the Kris Kringle Holiday Craft Show set for this weekend, the porch of the Smithsburg home she shares with husband Ken, 47, is lined with Santa Clauses, snowmen and reindeer waiting to be tagged and packed.

The craft show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and Sunday, Nov. 22, at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, east of Hagerstown. Admission costs $1, which benefits Hospice of Washington County Inc.

A self-taught artist, Wivell said she has always enjoyed painting and sculpting. One of the most popular pieces are her gourds that are painted in her trademark whimsical designs.


The pieces are so popular during her 13 years at Kris Kringle that her brother-in-law grows an entire field of bottleneck, gooseneck and penguin gourds just so she has enough to get her through her busy craft season.

After being dried, the gourds are transformed into snowmen or Santas. And every single one of the more than 500 gourds she'll offer for sale at the holiday show will be handpainted by Wivell.

"Everything is handmade," she said.

She produces series of snowmen and Santas in specific designs, but, just as each gourd is slightly different, so is each finished piece unique.

"No two are the same," she said.

Wivell starts her process in August, spending the next month and a half sculpting. Then she gives herself another month and a half for painting until the Kris Kringle show.

But don't look to find the latest trend to be found on her tables.

"I don't do what's popular unless I like it," she said.

Wivell's husband also helps out with her pieces.

The two met when he worked at Statton Furniture in Hagerstown and she was looking for scrap wood for her art. He is her go-to man when she needs wood cut or is in need of a solution to how to display one of her pieces.

Ken said he's proud to help.

"Everything is different to look at," he said. "Sometimes I look at it and think, 'My wife makes this.'"

In addition to her gourds, she also does driftwood Santas, which have faces she has sculpted using paper clay and bodies made from driftwood.

She also paints on pieces of slate and window screens. She said she has a stack of windows waiting for her paintbrush.

"Sometimes we'll come home and there'll be a stack of windows in our driveway," she said with a laugh.

Her sculpting is done using paper clay, which she uses mostly on her Santas. She also uses Celluclay, which she uses to make her snowmen and reindeer. She said she can manipulate it to do almost anything.

"You can just animate your snowmen to do things off the wall," she said.

And, she said, she likes that she can allow it to air dry and it becomes hard to the touch.

One of her favorite pieces this year are deer that are made mostly out of wood with some sculpting. And either standing beside, on top or hanging off the deer are snowmen, snowwomen or entire families.

She said she really does enjoy what she does and hopes that comes across in her work.

"If it looks like you love doing it, then they're going to love it, too," she said.

If you go ...

What: Kris Kringle Holiday Craft Show

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and Sunday, Nov. 22

Where: Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, Hagerstown Community College, 11400 Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown

Cost: $1

More: Proceeds benefit Hospice of Washington County Inc.

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