Sunday, December 11, 2011

Local Crafters & Artists Make Prez. Hall Shine

Sparkle was in hearts and minds at Wellfleet's annual crafts fair. Preservation Hall was again the place to be yesterday for the annual Deck-This-Hall event. I went downtown early, as soon as our guests had finished breakfast, in order to get first choice on one-of-a-kind items, perfect holiday gifts. To my delight, I discovered a number of the artisans had worked with recycled materials. Also, there were lots of families with kids. Come take a walk with me as I peruse the 2011 stalls …

First, a huge hats-off to Tracy Plaut, organizer-in-chief. Tracy was both the muse and the manager. As Sven pointed out, our favorite masseuse seemed to be everywhere, ducking into Chez Kathleen to offer the chef encouragement, distributing Sampson Fund literature, dashing off to welcome Santa. When does this woman rest? Wellfleet is so lucky to have Tracy. I like to think her community spirit rubs off on the rest of us like exquisite fairy dust.

There were thirty-one booths at the crafts fair this year, not including face-painting, always a hit with the kids, and displays of regular Prez. Hall gear, augmented with pickles and jams. Lots of Wellfleetians came. Even Santa put in an appearance. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to list every booth, so in no special order, here are the dozen I visited ...

Whispering Cowgirl is a local shop, beside The Juice, and sells what I call "fashion with attitude." Ginny Parker told me she started out with saddles and has never looked back. Local artists, like Kim Deane, as well as Virgin Saints & Angels, from Mexico, are big draws during spring and summer. Both natives and tourists do love the funky clothing. Here Ginny is finishing up a sale with Gracie Smith. “Oh, my God! That’s adorable!” cried a young woman to a friend, fingering a flimsy mini-skirt behind us. I wanted to buy just about everything I touched in Ginny’s display.

Very pregnant Hannah Choi, owner of Eliza Bee’s Baby Gear, lives in Eastham. I admired her baby blankets, and doll blankets, as well as hats and snazzy bibs. Outfit your little one with cuddle from Eliza Bee’s. Hannah uses all new materials but maximizes their usage. Nice! ... At the next stall, Emily Lewis from W. Dennis showed off work created from vintage fabric and buttons, including baby blankets made with chenille bedspreads. Her whimsical pincushions used recycled materials but smelled of sweet lavender. “Tracy found me at Oysterfest,” Emily said. “I’ll do a bigger table next year if this goes well.” Her Harwich-friend Jack raises peacocks. I bought my granddaughter a headband that featured a peacock feather. Emily does not sell online. “I want to deal with the people,” she explained. (Find her clever creations at Rear View Mirror, in Brewster.)

Outside, I spoke to Suzanne Early from Quincy who was hawking goods from a women's co-op that included wool wear and beautiful totes sewn from recycled fabric. It was her jewelry that caught my eye though, made of recycled glass. “I do it right on my kitchen table,” she said. “When women wear them, it reminds them to just breathe.” And, that’s the name of her business, Just Breathe. Suzanne is a regular at the Wellfleet flea market. She is currently selling online at Zhibit but asked everyone to stop by Miracles for Maureen, a site created for a friend who has melanoma. I enjoyed talking to Suzanne. Such positive energy!

Back inside, I picked up some marvelous alpaca socks for the one remaining person on my shopping list, nephew Ben. Nancy Flanagan, below, was so busy with customers that she barely had time to say hi, and, indeed, she had brought her daughter along to assist with sales. Here Marla Rice considers buying alpaca, too. There were also soft scarves, texting gloves, and yarn from the farm on Old King's Highway. Everyone was thinking warmth, apparently. With winter on the way, alpaca wool from Wellfleet and Peru seemed the perfect gift. Check out this fancy shawl not made in China. The pleasure of buying local knows no bounds. Perhaps that’s why Sandspit Alpacas was doing such great business? Before reporting on Santa, I wanted to also mention Nautical Chart Jewelry, created in Yarmouthport by Donna Credit, the Wellfleet Candy Company of Marstons Mills, new home of the chocolate oyster, and Wellfleet’s Chris Kelly of Sweet Baking, queen of the gingerbread house, but also responsible for the chocolate bombs on sale at Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans. I stopped to chat with Bethia Brehmer, a Wellfleet artist who had just produced an assortment of attractive and very original clocks.

While asking Tracy a couple questions, a small woman at a T-shirt stand called me over. “Are you from Chez Sven?” she asked. “I want you to know these T-shirts are all organic cotton, and our inks are phthalates-free.” Jennifer Witnauer told me further that she has just moved here and reads my blog. I’m sure her clothes for kids at MeMe will fit the bill for the tots on your shopping list. (I had fun at the crafts fair, but, as you can imagine, this was my happiest moment, finding another like-minded soul/blog-reader!)

With the collaboration of Roger Putnam, Santa arrived at noon and took a seat in a corner of the foyer. It was fascinating to observe the excitement his presence produced. One little girl literally could not stop jumping up and down. In this photo, Susan Weeger encourages a wee lad to share his list of toys while young Kyri looks on longingly, hugging her Minnie Mouse doll. Meeting Santa can be a bit overwhelming. But even some grown-ups feel compelled to sit on his lap, a point proved by a recently-engaged Emily Frawley who gave Santa a big hug, above left. “Did you tell him you already had everything you wanted?” asked Tracy with a wink.

Back outside, I chatted with Susie Nielson. Susie is a graphic designer who owns Farm Gallery on Commercial Street. I craved all the porcelain created by a local gal of Russian origin, Asya Palatova, an artist who works with words. Susie and I discussed Wellfleet’s need for a workspace, appropriate for writers. She collaborated with Sky Freyss-Cole on a mini-proposal to start such a workspace. I told her about how Judith Stiles, now on the Economic Development Committee, had suggested a similar space for artists, which Susie had not heard about. “All these little connections coming together,” she said, shaking her head in wonder. Hey now, that’s community!

It was dandy to see so many local folks busy making a living, and having fellow citizens support this effort by spending hard-earned cash. The event was so successful that it is to be expanded from one to two days for 2012 and held in a tent behind Prez. Hall.

Did you attend any crafts fairs this year? Were you at Preservation Hall? What did you like best?