“Cabin Fever” Arts Festival

Southern State Community College hosted a “Cabin Fever Arts Festival” on its Central Campus in Hillsboro, Ohio, on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

I have to admit, arts and crafts just are not my thing.  I adore the products, I admire the people who produce them, but if I had to make my living that way, the words of Judge Elihu Smails resound in my head; Well, the world needs ditch-diggers, too.

Here are a few of the local artisans who made my day.

Sue and a customer.
Sue Frump (right) speaks with a customer.

1) Sue Frump, Mountain Mist

Sue’s longtime musical collaborator, Virginia “Jinny” Spillman, passed away in January.  Sue had a simple table where she was selling some of the CD’s that she and Jinny made under the name “Mountain Mist“.  All of the proceeds from the day’s sales would go to benefit Hospice services.

I’m always looking for good Christmas music, so “Misty Christmas” really caught my eye.  A couple of the songs feature my friend Ellen Pennington playing recorder and singing.   Sue had some beautiful stories to tell about Jinny and their work together.  Want to hear some of their music?  Check out their “Our Music” page.

Eric carving a large piece.
Eric uses his mallet and chisel on this large piece.

2) Spark!  Creative Artspace

From their promotional material:  “Spark! Creative Artspace is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit creative upstart in southern Ohio.  A historic space is being re-imagined and repurposed as a mixed-use arts center to spark creativity, community, and re-investment in our region.  Our niche is Contemporary Appalachian.  As artists / musicians / performers / creatives, we like to mix it up, color outside the lines, collaborate, improvise, jam, and share what we know with others through workshops, classes, zany events, camps, exhibits, and live performances.”

My friend, Eric, was one of the Spark! representatives.  His talent for carving imaginative figures out of wood is fantastic!

Spark! hosts classes in various types of creative expression.  I hope to attend one soon, when my enthusiasm for the event overcomes the hesitation that comes from my lack of skill!

Handmade mug with handwoven coaster.
Handmade “mug and rug”.

3) Grandpa’s Pottery and Handwoven Wonders

I drink coffee at work, and I have a little collection of mugs I have acquired in various places.  Only a couple are handmade, though.  My latest addition is a beautiful stoneware piece from Grandpa’s Pottery, which I have paired with a “mug rug” from Handwoven Wonders.

The mug is hefty!  The thick walls of the cup don’t let any heat from the liquid through, so I can hold the cup however I like when it is full.  I can’t do that with my thinner, cheaper, mass-produced mugs.  The handle is larger than any other I have, and it has a unique thumb indentation on the top that makes the handle even more comfortable, even on such a heavy mug.  Having Ray Storer’s unmistakable signature on the bottom of the mug makes this mug even more delightful.

The woven “coaster” under the mug is just a small piece from Handwoven Wonders.  I like the intricacy of smaller handwoven pieces, and this one is excellent.  It came with a brightly-colored commercial mug and a bag of peanut M&M’s (one of my favorites!).

4) The Button-Cat

Such a unique idea for these small pieces!  The conversation was certainly not what the artisan was expecting, as I studied some of the small pieces:

Artisan: “Do you like cats?”

Me: “Not at all!  But, I have a stepdaughter who likes cats.”

Artisan: “Uh… oh, I see.”

Me: “This one looks like one of ours, I’ll take this one for her!”

There were two different business cards with two different web addresses on the table.  The cat I purchased appears to have come from “The Button Cattery“, while other items at the booth came from “The Chiffon Cat“.  Both online stores list the same name as owner.

Recorder and autoharp duet.
Celtic selections on the recorder and autoharp.

5) Music

Before I left, I stopped for some music.  Two ladies were playing some celtic-sounding selections in the foyer of the Patriot Center.  After listening to the music for a little while, I noticed they had iPads instead of sheet music.

When they finished one song, I approached them and thanked them for playing.  I asked if I could take a look at their decidedly modern setup for sheet music.  They were more than happy to tell me all about it!

They were using the unrealBook app ($5.99 as of this article) on their iPads to store the volumes of sheet music in their repertoire.  Turning the pages was done effortlessly with a PageFlip Cicada bluetooth foot pedal switch, one for each iPad.  Their fingers never had to leave their instruments as they played.  I find “assistive technology” wherever I go!


Why did I go to an arts festival instead of an electronics expo?  I have no chance of ever doing the things these people do.  As often as I say it, I still need the tangible reminder that it isn’t about the tools, it’s about the end product!  These artisans took pride in using a variety of old-timey and modern-day methods and tools to produce such fabulous items.  And I have a small collection of handmade items to remind me of that fact, and to remind me of this time when I met the people behind the products.

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