Chimacum Arts and Crafts Fair draws creative folks

Kirk Boxleitner
kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 12/11/18

This year’s Chimacum Arts and Crafts Fair slightly blurred the line between shoppers and creators, as seen when shopper Diane Haas perused the fiber art of creator Kate Dwyer.

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Chimacum Arts and Crafts Fair draws creative folks

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This year’s Chimacum Arts and Crafts Fair slightly blurred the line between shoppers and creators, as seen when shopper Diane Haas perused the fiber art of creator Kate Dwyer.

“I create homemade things too,” Haas said to Dwyer, who jokingly suggested Haas was “looking for ideas to steal” for her own work. Haas, who works with “rocks and twine,” laughed and agreed. Both women are from Port Townsend.

Dwyer became a fiber artist three years ago, making everything from necklaces to bowls, after she decided she needed a change from being a painter.

“I like change,” Dwyer said. “I’m more of an inventor than an artist. What appeals to me about the type of fiber art that I do is, I love fabric and color, but I hate sewing.”

Dwyer doesn’t display her work at many fairs, but she makes an exception for the Chimacum event, at which she’s sold her wares two years in a row.

Chimacum High School was bustling with vendors and customers both local and from afar Dec. 8-9.
Port Ludlow’s Donna Basiliere and her daughter, Sadie Laviolette, were joined by their friend, Jenny Pirzio-Biroli, who happened to be visiting that weekend from Mercer Island.

“I’m a knitter myself, so I love handmade things,” Basiliere said, adding she was in the market for holiday gifts as well.

The trio stopped by the clothing racks of sewer Betty Fabry, who came from Bremerton to take part in the Chimacum fair for a second consecutive year.

“We did so well here last year, we just had to come back,” said Fabry, who makes clothes with her cousin. “We’ve been making outfits since we were both little girls. We have so much fun with it.”

Helen Curry of Marrowstone Island was drawn to the beeswax pillar candles of Tarboo Creek Honey, a three-generation company started by Fern Stroble and occasionally employing the labor of her grandson, Oliver Romero.

“These will burn for 110 hours,” Romero told Curry.

Stroble noted she and her husband, who started the company in 2012, are second-generation beekeepers who have been involved in the apiary arts for 24 years.

When asked what sets their honey apart, Stroble cited both the “incredible area” where they have their hives set up, which she described as “remarkably free from pollution,” and the specific strain of bees they cultivate.

“They’re very spicy bees,” Stroble said. “Others would call them aggressive. When you go to their hives, you have to be suited up and project a calm demeanor.”

Whatever the temperament of her bees, Stroble touted the results, pointing out that all 14 of her hives have survived the past two winters, compared to the usual survival rate of 40 to 60 percent.
Port Ludlow’s Doug Henderson extolled a different virtue of beeswax as he spoke to Port Townsend’s Ragnar Kaasa.

“Beeswax gives the wood a great shine, and it’s naturally anti-bacterial,” Henderson said while he showed off his woodworking as part of his “Laminations in June” business. “Try not to combine too many coatings, though. And don’t use varnish.”

As a former farm boy from Vermont, Henderson has been working with wood since he was 10 years old “nearly 70 years ago,” but only made it a paying proposition in 2005, a year after he moved to Jefferson County.

“We always built what we needed,” Henderson said. “I was always around woodworkers. My father was a carpenter.”

Henderson has been attending the Chimacum Arts and Crafts Fair “every year since it started,” and regardless of whether he succeeds at selling any of his wares, he always enjoys meeting “the very nice people here, whom I enjoy talking with, and who seem to enjoy the quality of my workmanship.”

Like Dwyer, Whidbey Island’s Linda Nicol considers herself a fiber artist, although she does sew.
Nicol’s “Whidbey Woolies” garments are made entirely out of alpaca fiber, which she championed as providing “six times” the warmth of wool, minus the itching.

“It’s also a lot softer,” said Nicol, returning for her third annual Chimacum fair. “People seem to like my stuff. One lady told me she has a hat I made 12 years ago, and it still feels brand new. I keep coming here because I keep selling a lot.”

Quilcene’s Cheri Starnes and her 9-month-old granddaughter Zoe were among those sampling the sweets of Wild Redhead Confections.

Although Starnes expressed enthusiasm for the goods she’d already bought from Sugar Hill Confections of Port Ludlow, she gushed over the tangerine-flavored chocolates offered up by Chimacum’s Linda Dexter, the “wild redhead.”

“I’ve already done my Christmas shopping, so I’m mostly looking for little extras here,” Starnes said.
Dexter has been making her own candy since the late 1990s, but she didn’t start doing it professionally until four years ago.

“A girlfriend I gave some candies to told me I needed to sell them,” said Dexter, who’s since mailed orders as far as California, Texas and Michigan. “Everybody comes by and tells me how much they love them. I love meeting these folks, and I love my own product. It’s all homemade with heart.”

Near the end of the first day of the fair, Rotary’s Photos with Santa had snapped 36 shots of the jolly old elf with various tots, including 10-month-old Hugo Hurt, who obliged Santa in a high-five but was too captivated by grabbing his thick white beard to return his low-five.

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