'Tis the season for holiday crafts
Dec 02, 2012 (Skagit Valley Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
'Tis the season for crafters everywhere to peddle their jewelry, candles, knitwear and other handmade items at holiday craft bazaars throughout the county.
Novice and longtime artisans alike converge to sell their crafts at a time when Internet-based craft sites are soaring in popularity, drawing a mix of young and old consumers.
Several craft bazaars took place on Saturday, including the Skagit Valley Eagles Auxiliary fair in Burlington and one at Clear Lake Elementary School.
The youngest crafter at the Burlington Eagles Lodge was 7-year-old Chris Kurtzer of Granite Falls, who came with his mother and grandmother, also vendors at the fair.
Chris made necklaces by himself and wove potholders and made beaded ornaments. About 90 minutes into the day, Chris had sold a necklace and two ornaments, netting him $6.
"I'm gonna sell a lot more stuff," he promised.
One of the more unusual items at the Burlington fair were cheese plates made out of wine bottles that were heated in a kiln and flattened.
Pam Ludwig of Burlington made and sold the plates, adorned with antique buttons. Her handmade copper bracelets and children's bracelets also were for sale.
Ludwig said Christmas craft bazaars bring people together and allow them to buy special items they can't find in a department store.
"There's more of a variety of things," she said.
Kim Stelloh of Burlington sold dog biscuits, among other items, at her table.
She said she began baking dog biscuits after her grandchildren's parents admonished her for baking too many cookies for their young children, so she turned to spoiling dogs.
She plans to contribute the proceeds to the Edison Elementary School Giving Tree project, in which the school helps supply Christmas items for needy families. Stelloh's granddaughter, Alyssa Beck, is a fifth-grader there.
Jenny Schuh of Sedro-Woolley manned a booth prolifically stocked with handmade jewelry, which she started making and selling this past summer "to support my bead habit," she said.
She began making beaded ornaments, but branched out to earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
While some crafters sold their wares as an extension of a hobby, others were there to build on a burgeoning business.
Amber Miller of Burlington has spent three years making jewelry with unique gems and stones and hopes to soon grow her enterprise by selling her items on eBay, an online auction site, and Etsy, where crafters worldwide sell their products directly to buyers.
She said consumers are becoming more drawn to homemade items because they love the idea of owning and giving exclusive items.
"People want to have something unique that they know nobody else will have," Miller said.
Katie Larkin, who sold homemade soaps at the Clear Lake craft fair, is also starting up an Etsy enterprise and advertised it on business cards distributed at her booth.
"I just figured it would be good as an option if people want to order more after Christmas," said Larkin, who's originally from Mount Vernon but now lives in Redmond.
She said her soaps always sell well at farmers markets and bazaars, but time will tell whether the Internet will bring in more customers.
"I'm hoping that it goes well," she said. "I'm going to be making a lot more (soap)."
But Internet craft sales aren't for everyone.
JoAnne Gilbert of Sedro-Woolley sold tea bag holders she molded and painted herself, as well as knitted items.
She's been a crafter for 50 years.
Knitting at her booth, she said she sells so many things already that she doesn't need an Internet enterprise. People will see something she's in the process of knitting and buy it before it's even done.
Besides, she added, "I'm getting too old."
___ (c)2012 the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.) Visit the Skagit
Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.) at www.goskagit.com Distributed by MCT
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