MINERAL WELLS - Fairs are one place where crafts enthusiasts can shine.
"I've always been amazed with how a few pieces of reed or wood can be weaved so simply into such a useful object," said Annie Lewellyn, one of the many women artists who displayed their pieces at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition.
Whether by weaving a basket, canning home-grown vegetables or crocheting an afghan, the presence of women artists is revealed each year at the domestic arts tent and the Community Educational Outreach Service club building during the fair.
Photo by Natalee Seely
The domestic arts building at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition displays more than 100 works of art, including photographs, quilts, furniture, afghans, and baskets.
Forty artists entered more than 100 items this year at the domestic arts competition, which showcases everything from quilts, hand-sewn clothing and etched glass, to furniture, baskets and scrapbook pages.
Lewellyn, of Boaz, has entered baskets in the fair for the past 25 years. Her passion for weaving began in 1985, when she attended a basket-making class at Creative Camp hosted by the CEOS club, of which she has been a member ever since. Basket weaving became much more than a hobby for Lewellyn, who started her own business, traveling to fairs and festivals selling her art.
"I put my son through college making and selling baskets," she said. "My friend and I taught basket-making classes on a regular basis. It was a big part of my life."
Although Lewellyn no longer has her own business, she teaches the occasional class for friends, women's groups or 4-H clubs, and weaving is still her passion.
"I do it more for fun now, and I still enjoy entering baskets in the fair every year," she said. "There's just something about basket-making that I'm really drawn toit's a craft that's been around since the beginning of time. It's a craft that has survived generations."
This year in the domestic arts tent, one of her baskets earned first place.
Other women, like Evelyn Stephens, learned an artistic skill from a family member.
"My grandmothers both embroidered, so I took up embroidering at the age of 6 and have been doing it ever since. I learned how to sew from my aunts," said Stephens, the fair chairwoman of domestic arts.
Although counted cross stitching is her favorite craft, her interests go beyond a needle and thread.
"I do a little bit of everythingwhatever strikes my fancy. I learn about other kinds of crafts through books and magazines," said Stephens, who also enjoys card-making, scrap-booking, knitting and crocheting.
"Right now I'm working on an afghan for grandson number three," she said. "Making things, whether its a blanket or a scrapbookit's an escape from work. It's just fun."
Dottie Rogers, of Mineral Wells, is the fair chairwoman of the culinary arts competition, which includes a mouth-watering display of cookies, cakes, brownies, breads and canned goods.
Rogers entered 10 canned items in the culinary arts display, but it was her canned green beans and beets that took home top prizes.
"I grew up on a farmwe raised beef, hogs, and grew a lot of vegetables in our garden," said Rogers. "My mom canned a lot, so we ate a lot of green beans and corn. It just depended on how well the garden grew that year."
There is an art to canning, but it is also very practical, said Rogers, who once canned 150 quarts of vegetables after a particularly plentiful harvest.
"Canning means the food is good all year around. You can eat home-grown vegetables in the middle of the winter," she said.
Aside from canning, Rogers also enjoys crocheting and creating flower arrangements. This year, she entered a crocheted doll and three flower arrangements, which took home first-place prizes.
"I would say crocheting is my best skill when it comes to craftingI'm always giving afghans away as gifts," she said. "And I enjoy doing crafts in the winter, when there isn't much to do outside. It's very relaxing."
Women or men interested in learning a craft can register now for Creative Camp, a weekend event in October featuring dozens of classes. The camp is held each year at the 4H Camp in Mineral Wells. Classes are taught by artists from all over the region, and include everything from jewelry-making, genealogy and ornament-making to weaving, candlewicking and slate painting. For more information, or to reserve a spot, contact Annie Lewellyn at email@example.com.