Large craft show fills Central Park over weekend

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


The Washington Chamber of Commerce?s annual Craft Fair was an extravaganza of merchants and merchandise in Central Park on Saturday.

Home-crafted products included jewelry, ceramics, woodcraft, fabrics, metal work and more. Shoppers could browse multiple products from the many vendors who displayed a surprising depth of offerings. ?This is a great show. It?s a great town,? said Lucas Remley, of Hollow Hill Designs.

Remley, of Memphis, Mo., was showing his ornamental iron work in Washington for the 18th time. ?This is one of the better shows,? he said. ?It?s a beautiful town and a friendly atmosphere.?

Remley said his ironwork is made from 16-gauge, cold-rolled steel. To bring out the blue and gray colors, he uses an acetylene torch to the tempered steel to make it malleable, he said. He uses a mig welder to hold the creations together.

He takes his inspiration from nature and ?whatever the Lord brings before me,? he said.

Across the square, Jeanette Fisher, of Washington, was displaying her hand-knitted inspirations. A longtime resident, she said she knows many of the customers passing by her tables, adding to her enjoyment of the craft fair. She said she enjoys the process of creating her products. ?I can knit in the odd moments of the day. I can do it while I am in the car or while watching television,? she said.

Colorful and creative, her hand-knit items drew many shoppers to her table.

Near the band shell, Dorcas Jarrard of Designs by Dorcas exhibited her wood block collection. The hand-painted and hand-cut blocks featured words of inspiration and kindness. She also has hand-painted barn quilts and does custom orders.

The wood blocks contained messages such as ?Let it snow? and ?You and me? arranged in an inventive and creative manner. Her inspiration for her unique blocks starts with a theme. ?I might pick a theme I want to work with and then ideas and images seem to appear,? Jarrard said.

The intricate designs are fitted to the words, forming an intriguing work of art. The entire process is a tribute to her creativity. ?I might see an example of something that would work for an idea that I have and then I adapt the words to the design,? she said.

Ben Lucas, of Cedar Rapids, also works in wood. He and his wife Patti set up a display of the hearts and crosses that he manufactures in his shop from native and exotic woods. He also is a fan of the craft fair. ?This is a great town. We love coming here,? he said.

Lucas took up woodworking after retiring from his profession as a machinist. His first project was to assemble 700 crosses for a mission in Dominican Republic.

Following that effort, the project became a calling. His business, Prayer focus in Wood, creates hearts, crosses and other religious items. He starts with planks of clear-grained wood, he said, and crafts a message that is close to his own heart. ?I want to create these hearts for people who need the comfort of the Lord in their lives. I say a prayer for every heart and cross I make. I pray they will bring comfort and guidance to each person who holds them,? he said.

Lucas uses both common woods and rare woods in his hand-crafted items. Some of the exotic woods include Zebra, Canary, Purple Heart wood, and Spalted Maple. His creations are labor-intensive and require large amounts of patience. After using his tools to craft the item, he will sand it six times or more to a silky finish. Then, he will buff the item out and then rub it with several coats of oil. Finally, he buffs out the cross or heart with wax.

?A lot of love goes into my work,? Lucas said.

Also near the band shell, Larry Ballentine, of Newton, displays his solar lights. Each light is embedded in a cluster of small, treated posts that can be placed on a sidewalk or in the backyard. Each light contains a small ornament: a race car, a motorcycle, a lighthouse, an American flag and many more figures. His business, Flags and Lights, has been functioning for 12 years and recently made its 4,000th light. He says the solar lights are durable and long-lived.

?Some of our lights have been going for 12 years,? he said.

He attends around 45 shows per year and said he will be in Riverside next month. Washington is one of his favorite stops. ?I?m just impressed with the whole town. The park is set up right and it is perfect for a craft fair. It?s just a great place to come,? he said.