GAMBIER — A beloved showcase for local artisans is returning to take its 41st bow this Sunday, when the Gambier Craft Sale kicks off at 11 a.m.
According to co-organizer Elizabeth Emmert, 83 vendors will be offering wares that range from finely-crafted art to simple rustic gifts, with a range of experience from show veterans to those displaying wares for the first time. As always, the sale will offer a bounty of unique gifts at reasonable prices.
Marcus Brandenburg and Emily Wise, who together make up the Ohio River Banks Jewelry Co., are first-time vendors who will be offering jewelry made from materials found along the banks of the region’s rivers and lakes.
“The Kokosing is our favorite,” Brandenburg said. “The river tends to sort materials, so you can find different minerals in a variety of sizes at different bends in the river.”
The artisans take these found pieces of quartz, flint and glass, and drill them to make such jewelry as necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
Another first-time vendor will be Wool n’ Wood Farm, which is the home of Anne and Gordon Bisdorf. A long-time exhibitor friend of Anne’s convinced her to join the show with her hand-made woolen goods. Bisdorf, who started raising sheep 30 years ago, eventually took up working with the animals’ wool. Now she hand-spins the wool from her own sheep, hand knits patterns, felts it by shrinking the wool in boiling water in order to make tea cozies, and, finally, embroiders them.
“They look like quaint and cute little houses,” Bisdorf said.
She will also have her own hand-spun and dyed yarns for sale. Her husband, a potter, will have ceramic necklaces and Christmas tree ornaments.
Bruce Kiracofe has been going to the show since it first started it, only missing it a few select years when he lived outside of the area. But this year will mark his first leap to the other side of the table, offering frames, bluebird houses and bird feeders made from indigenous woods, including vintage barn siding from a local structure.
“It’s all very rustic-looking wood from the area,” Kiracofe said.
Doing wood working for years, Kiracofe decided to step-up his activities since he retired, branching into original designs for picturesque but useful items. The bird feeders he’s been working on have tops large enough to insert a whole sunflower head. After that is depleted, the top could also fit dried cobs of corn or other large seeds.
Kiracofe is also planning on having some scale drawings on hand at the sale, to demonstrate his idea for a cabinet/shelf designed to lean against a wall. His latest inspiration in development? A temporary bookshelf that converts to become a “green,” environmentally friendly casket for the owner’s long-term rest.
Emmert said that organizing the event is a major effort.
“We used to do a different ethnic theme every year,” she said, adding that it added another level of work to the already daunting task of assembling vendors from Knox County and around the state, sometimes even as far as Michigan. To simplify and streamline, in the last few years the sale has stuck to the popular Austrian Christmas theme, Austria being the snowy Alpine country which gave the world the classic carol “Silent Night.”
Emmert said jewelry has remained consistent over the 30 years she has helped work the show, while other crafts ebb and flow in waves of popularity.
“Quilting was huge 15 years ago,” Emmert said, adding that though it seems to be in a lull now, it is expected to start building up for a new wave of popularity in the future.
Wood-working has remained popular all these years, she said, even having clubs that support it. The rarest craft these days, Emmert said, is tin-working, though a few tinsmiths remain.
Emmert, a psychotherapist in Mount Vernon, said the event is not only a sale, it’s a big social get-together where old friends meet and share the spirit of the season. Emmert herself hopes to partake more of that aspect of the event in the future, as she’s planning to retire from organizing the show. She added that she was happy to give it one more go-round this year, including roping in her husband, Gambier Mayor Kirk Emmert, who has agreed to organize parking.
The Gambier Craft Sale will run Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kenyon Athletic Center on Duff Street in Gambier.