Craft blast perfect for holiday shopping

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WAYNESBURG – Upstairs, downstairs and then some, the sixth annual Holiday Craft Blast will fill the 4-H building and spill into one of the two main buildings at Greene County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

“We have more than 60 vendors this year and it’s great to be back at the fairgrounds. It has great parking, is easy to find and is a fun place to be – you never know when you’ll see someone trotting their harness horse around the track,” organizer Jeanne Stacher said.

The Nathanael Greene Foundation came up with this annual holiday sale to promote local artisans and sell homemade soups and sandwiches to hungry shoppers six years ago and participation and anticipation continues to grow, Stacher noted.

“I’ve been helping organize this since the beginning and it’s wonderful that this many artists are interested in joining us year after year. Our customers come to buy presents that are unique – pottery, woodwork, jewelry, soaps, jellies – everything handmade. Our soup is a hit too, it’s hot, homemade and ready to eat. Selling soup and sandwiches helps Nat Greene pay for this event.”

The Foundation is also offering three raffle baskets geared to differing tastes. The highlight of the Pittsburgh sports basket are two Penguin tickets for the Jan. 10 game, plus a prepaid parking pass.

Local artists, celebrities and winemakers have also given to the fundraising cause. There’s a Greene Country Calendar and a photograph of a covered bridge by Andrew Corfont in the Greene County basket and the Christmas basket has a framed photograph of Mary and baby Jesus by retired character actor Susan Barnes of Rices Landing. A quilt made of squares that attendees made as an art project at Artblast 2013 in Greensboro over Labor Day weekend will also be raffled off. Quilt tickets are $5.

Buying holiday presents on Saturday also means those who shop get to meet the artists, Stacher said. “Returning crafters have a fan base who are our regular shoppers. Plus, it’s such a treat to see what our new vendors have to offer. We really appreciate the community support we get,” she said.

“My boyfriend is a contractor and he saves slate shingles for me,” said Chrystal Brown of Waynesburg, holding up a small snowman deftly painted on a small circle of slate. “I hand chip circles with a chistle and hammer and use a diamond blade to cut crosses. My friends save me old saw blades and old Christmas tree ornaments so you can say I’m a recycler. I call it repurposing.”

Brown’s attention to detail comes from her years of painting intricate designs on nails, sometimes whole scenes that glide from finger to finger on the hands of her satisfied customers at East Side Hair, Waynesburg. Her artistic verve earned her a featured spot in Nail Pro Magizine for 2012 and again for 2013 and her love of downsize art has led from slate and sawblades to delicate jewelry.

“This is actually a nail tip,” Brown said, holding up an earring that sported a tiny palm tree and sunset on its smooth tapered surface. “My daughter calls them nearrings.”

A 2001 West Greene graduate, Brown admits to spending “90 percent of my senior year in art class” where teacher Deb Salosky “saw the artist in me and helped me put my focus into my art. She really helped me and I can’t thank her enough.”

On Saturday, Brown will be set up beside good friend Lynn Leathers of Waynesburg, a fellow artist she cajolled into vending for the first time. Like Brown, Leathers knows who to thank for encouraging her to do the art that can be seen in the tiled floors, inlaid cabnits and stained glass hangings that fill the rooms of her Edwardian home on Greene Street.

“I love it and I’m not stopping. My family and friends have been very supportive.”

Leathers took her talent into glass six years ago when stained glass artist Jan Klinefelter of Waynesburg “gave me tools and glass and said ‘have at it.’” Her glass-on-glass images go by their initials: GoG, and each piece is ground to fit the design, then grouted onto a support pane, usually an old window that is being recycled to become a wall or window hanging.

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