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


24 Responses to “Christmas gift possibilities crafted in southern Minnesota”

  1. Allan Landman Says:

    Whenever I think of Faribault, I think of Ray Mealy. (sp) My Dad knew him from years ago. Ray made the best caramel popcorn, and other confections. He had a large Restaurant out by the freeway in later years. Did you know him Audrey, or anything about him? I am sure he is dead by now, as he would be quite old. What great memories of Ray and Faribault. Also, does anyone remember the “Dorkin’s Drive-In? Doris Settergren is my Aunt. The Drive-In was on the main drag of Faribault, and we spent a lot of time at their house, which was next door to the Drive-In. Anyone, please share your thoughts and memories of “Dorkins” Drive-in or Ray Mealy(sp). Thanks Audrey for your great blog!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Allan, I never knew Ray (but do remember Mealy’s Plaza; there’s still a restaurant at that location just off I35), nor have I heard of Dorkin’s Drive-in. But then I’ve only lived in Faribault for 30 years. Any Faribault natives able to answer Allan’s questions?

  2. Rachel Eggleston Says:

    Audrey, I would love to connect with Bud Paschke. The snippet of his cross is gorgeous and being a military family would love to obtain one.
    Enjoy your blog so much … spent a month at Camp Lake Hubbert back in the 50s and did so enjoy it. Beautiful country.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Rachel, I will pass your email address along to Bud Paschke. If he does not have email, I will contact you privately via email with his phone number.

      • Rachel Eggleston Says:

        Thank you mucho!!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I called the Paschkes and left a message and am awaiting a return call. You are most welcome. I am happy to connect you with this talented wood craftsman.

  3. Amy Says:

    Please feel free to put one of those BEAUTIFUL cutting boards in my stocking this year. Or call my real parents and suggest it to them. Thanks.


  4. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    Where can I get the knockoffs made in Pakinstan?

  5. Nancy Says:

    I do alot of knitting and crocheting and usually give items as gifts for Christmas, a new baby, or where there is a need. I have done prayer shawls for church as well as family and friends who need them, Knitting especially is a good stress reliever for me. Some years I knit up a storm, so-to-speak. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for sharing, Nancy. I bet the recipients of your handiwork are truly grateful, especially those receiving your prayer shawls.

      I once knew how to knit and crochet (learned all in high school home economics), but have forgotten. Embroidery was my craft of choice, though, as was sewing. Perhaps it’s time to return to one of those hobbies.

      Thank you for sharing your craftiness skills and your comment about knitting being a stress reliever.

  6. Love local, and try to do as much as possible. Also trying to support made in the USA, so far I have have Christmas shopped, Faribault Woolen Mills, Stormy Kromer, and Frye boots. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Good to hear, Stacey, and thanks for introducing me to two more Made in the USA companies.

      Just FYI, you’ll find Faribault Woolen Mill blankets at J.C. Penney stores.

  7. What cool stuff. Love the bread boards. I used to teach at a tiny Christian school and the shop/math teacher made us boards like that for Christmas one year – and a stool like it another year. I still cherish them both!

  8. PS – I wish I was more crafty. Or that I had time (took the time?!) to develop it…

  9. Tammy Nerad Says:

    I would like to get ahold of Chuck I purchased a couple cutting boards SEVERAL years ago at the Steele co fair and I am needing to replace them but now live out of state

  10. Carey Wolfram Says:

    I would love to get in contact with Chuck Henry. I just bought a cutting board and would love to buy some of the trivets. His work is amazing. I saw him at the Anoka Riverfest. Did not get a card wish I would have.

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