Norma Henderson, of Craig, left, shows Tammie Hanel, of Craig, her “fold and go play stations” Saturday during the craft sale at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265. Hanel said she prefers to give locally made, hand-crafted gifts during the holidays “because I know what kind of work goes into it.”

Photo by Michelle Balleck

Norma Henderson, of Craig, left, shows Tammie Hanel, of Craig, her “fold and go play stations” Saturday during the craft sale at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265. Hanel said she prefers to give locally made, hand-crafted gifts during the holidays “because I know what kind of work goes into it.”

Shows in Craig offer handmade, local holiday gifts

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Delina Miller, of Craig, looks over pieces by local ceramic artist Jean Jones on Saturday during the Holiday Artisans Market at The Center of Craig. “I just love crafty stuff,” Miller said. “It’s just fun.”

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Sis Pell, left, and Evelyn Maneotis, both Craig residents selling their artwork at the Holiday Artisans Market, look at note cards with photography by Janele Husband on Saturday during the market at The Center of Craig.

The local lead-in to Black Friday — the notorious shopping day the morning after Thanksgiving — got a considerable response over the weekend with numerous events around town showcasing artists’ wares.

The second annual Holiday Artisans Market was hopping with customers looking for individually made items for loved ones.

Among the tables of handcrafted goods were greeting cards, paintings, jewelry and birdhouses.

“I think people appreciate when they know the artist, when it’s local, at an affordable price,” event organizer and potter Roberta Hawks said. “They can say, ‘I know the person who made this,’ and if they’re keeping it for themselves, then it has more meaning.

“I think it’s important for local artists to have a venue like this so they can display their things, and we’ve drawn the line and kept it at art, hand-crafted things that people have made.”

The artisans market was one of three craft shows in Craig on Saturday. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 hosted its second annual craft sale Saturday, and the St. Michael’s Bazaar also took place Saturday.

The shows offered shoppers a chance to snag a perfect handmade gift and artists the opportunity to showcase their work.

Hawks said the snowy weather Saturday added to the feel of the yuletide for potential customers. Jean Jones, also a potter, said the holiday season is her busiest time.

“My sales have been really good,” she said. “My biggest response comes at Christmas time.”

For some, offering their crafts is something they do throughout the year.

Dave Walters sold his creations at the VFW’s craft sale. Walters was selling the wooden specialties of his business, Chameo Engravings and Cutouts.

Among his products are custom-made lap trays, jigsaw puzzles and a slew of other wooden items with images such as animals and family photos burned into them.

“People like the homemade goods, especially the ones that are affordable,” Walters said. “They like the quality and uniqueness of it.”

For shoppers who passed by David Morris’ table at the artisans market, a myriad of bulging eyeballs stared back at them. Morris’s homemade crafts of bizarrely proportioned creatures and people, which he referred to as “goofy ceramics,” retained their creator’s self-professed weird sense of humor.

“People here sure love to come to craft shows, and you kind of get a following who come and buy stuff, and whether or not they buy something, they all like to look at this stuff,” Morris said. “I did a little shopping myself here.”

Even for people selling their own goods, the temptation to indulge in Black Friday can be overwhelming.

“I’ve gone to Grand Junction for Black Friday before with my husband,” Jones said. “I hate to admit that.”

Conversely, others do all they can to avoid the hubbub.

“That appeals to some people, but I think a lot of people would rather not be pawing through junk that everybody else is pawing through,” Morris said. “Walmart products are fine, but they’re Walmart products, and people are looking for something with a personal, homey touch.

“I don’t go in for buying stuff at big box stores for anybody.”

Michelle Simon, a shopper at the artisans market, said she appreciates the appeal of both handmade items and the store-bought kind when giving gifts.

“I think it depends on the presents,” she said. “I like to get stuff like jewelry and pottery for my mother and mother-in-law. I think that adults like more of the handcrafted stuff. But for the kids, I’d probably go to Walmart.”

Jana Rowe is a sales representative for Scentsy, an Idaho-based company offering fragrance items like candle warmers, scent wax, plug-ins, perfume and more, who also sold at the VFW event.

Rowe said she personally tries to shop locally as much as possible. Likewise, her setup as a sales rep allows people to shop with an established store and get the personal, individual care that comes along with local business.

Hawks said Craig’s location enables a positive atmosphere for local vendors.

“Because we’re somewhat isolated, it can sometimes be a detriment, but I think it can also work to our benefit because it can be challenging to get out of town to purchase something,” she said.

But no matter the availability, Hawks had a piece of encouragement for Craig shoppers this holiday season: “Consider your local artisans, whoever they might be, and keep handmade gifts in mind.”

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