Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Christmas gift possibilities crafted in southern Minnesota December 10, 2012

THIS TIME OF YEAR the crafters emerge, peddling their wares at malls and craft shows.

I am nearly always impressed and, in all sincerity, envious of their talents. How do they manage to transform a simple piece of wood into a work of art, a skein of yarn into something beautiful and wearable, food ingredients into the most delectable treats…?

Saturday’s craft show at the Faribo West Mall presented an array of crafters showcasing their work for sale.

I couldn’t possibly photograph everyone, so here’s a sampling of the offerings.

Beautifully-packaged Cheryl's Turtles.

Beautifully-packaged Cheryl’s Turtles.

Let’s begin with Cheryl’s Turtles, sinfully delicious candy created by Cheryl Morris in her south Faribault home. Cheryl was parceling out samples of her treat prepared, she emphasized, with her homemade caramel. I was especially impressed with Cheryl’s lovely product packaging; this woman clearly understands the value in presentation. She even told me that her sons, who are sales reps, will gift their customers with these delightful mini packages of sweetness. Cheryl stirs up candy year-round and these same packages will fit her Valentine’s Day marketing plan.

JENean Mortenson's art painted onto a box.

JENean Mortenson’s art painted onto a box.

JENean Mortenson, who shared a table with Cheryl, was selling her hand-painted pieces and stained glass art by her husband. Although she did not specifically tell me this, JENean’s love of gardening clearly influences her art. I’m not sure how we even got on the topic of gardening, but this rural Faribault woman’s gardens have been on the local garden tour many times.

Chuck Henry's cutting boards crafted from reclaimed wood scraps.

Chuck Henry’s cutting boards crafted from reclaimed wood scraps.

Nearby, Faribault resident Chuck Henry takes an approach to crafting that truly fits today’s trendy green living. He uses reclaimed wood from his brother Dave’s custom cabinet shop to saw, glue and press pieces of otherwise cast-off wood scraps into one-of-a-kind cutting boards, trivets and cheese trays. Chuck calls his creations “usable and kind of pretty.” He’s nailed it with that modest description.

Nyla Wille knits while she and her husband tend their table.

Nyla Wille knits while she and her husband tend their table.

Yarn flies across the needles in Nyla's crafty hands.

Yarn flies across the needles in Nyla’s crafty hands.

Next table over, Nyla Wille of Morristown was knitting faster than I could photograph. She asked if I was from the local daily paper and I explained that I’m a blogger simply passionate about writing and photography and sharing my discoveries with readers. Then she tipped me off to a recent visit to the Mall of America by ABC resulting in the Faribault Woolen Mill Co. making “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” on December 5. The mill’s MOA store was highlighted in a segment called “Made in America, Christmas Edition: The Store America Built.” How cool is that? You can watch that video by clicking here. And you can check out the woolen mill’s on-site store in Faribault by clicking here.

A snippet of the cross Bud Paschke crafted honoring veterans from all branches of the military.

A snippet of the cross Bud Paschke crafted honoring veterans from all branches of the military.

Anyone with a veteran on their Christmas gift list could find the perfect gift among Faribault resident Bud Paschke’s scroll-sawed fretwork designs. It amazes me how anyone can cut such fine details into a piece of wood without sawing off one’s fingertips.

One of Cheryl Anderson's creations from her Nana's Hat Shop.

One of Cheryl Anderson’s creations from her Nana’s Hat Shop.

I absolutely fell for Cheryl Anderson’s array of Nana’s Hat Shop hats, mittens, baby sweaters and other handiwork crocheted in often vibrant hues. This Faribault woman even allowed me to position a Styrofoam head for the best photo op. How “Minnesota Nice” is that?

A sampling of Linda Kooyer's jewelry.

A sampling of Linda Kooyer’s jewelry.

Linda Kooyer’s table was splashed with jewelry, where she sold bracelets for as low as 6 for $5. I snapped up one made of wood.

A holiday doily crocheted years ago by some crafty crafter.

A holiday doily crocheted years ago by some crafty crafter.

Finally, Verna Bahl, a long-time Avon collector, was selling a few of the remaining items in her collection as well as some vintage stuff like this Christmas doily. I contemplated purchasing the crocheted poinsettia piece for the pure kitsch art aspect, but decided, yeah, I really don’t need this. But that did not keep me from snatching up several delicate vintage floral handkerchiefs for a quarter apiece.

TELL ME. Are you a crafter crafting gifts for family and/or selling your creations at holiday craft shows?

IF ANYONE WISHES to connect with any of the crafters featured here, I can connect you. Submit a comment with your contact info (I won’t publish the contact info) and I will pass it along.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling