Winston Roberts, a Florida State University physics professor, is also a self-taught woodworking craftsman who makes a variety of household items, including small tables with “epoxy rivers” and cutting boards with unique patterns. This is only Winston’s third Market Days, but he has been selected 2018 Featured Artist of the Year.
Winston joined the FSU faculty in 2006, after 14 years at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Winston is originally from Trinidad. Living in Portsmouth, Virginia, he began to teach himself high-quality woodworking. “I bought a few books – there was no YouTube at the time – and a few tools, and taught myself how to do this, while keeping my fingers intact,” he says.
Winston and his wife of 31 years, Judy White, participated in their first craft show in 2015 at a Tallahassee area nursery. They now present Winston’s woodworking at a number of craft shows in Tallahassee. Winston offered cutting boards, wine stoppers, salt and pepper shakers, wooden trays and keepsake boxes at his first shows. More recently, he has been adding “items I think people would be interested in, and that would be interesting to make.” He now also offers small occasional tables, including three with “epoxy rivers;” new patterns in cutting boards; and small items like styli and spreaders.
Winston uses mainly exotic woods from South America and Africa, but he has been increasing his use of domestic woods. In Virginia, he went to a local lumber store regularly and bought wood because he liked the way it looked, not because he had a particular project in mind.
“I bought a whole trunk of padauk, African wood with red heartwood and white sapwood,” he says. “I collected some maple and cherry from trees knocked down by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.” Since moving to Tallahassee, he has found good sources for his special lumber in rural Gadsden County and Blountstown.
He notes, “Now, I also have a few items made with locally sourced lumber.” He also points out that the colors in the things he makes are the natural colors of the woods he uses. “The colors and grain of the different woods can be breathtaking. I don’t stain anything, unless it is by request,” he says.
“When I started participating in shows, many vendors and shoppers suggested the Market Days show, as it is the largest shopping event in the region,” Winston says. “We had attended Market Days as shoppers, and were both amazed at the number of people who were there. I’ll admit the thought of being on the other side of the counter in such a crowd was somewhat intimidating. So far, however, my worry has been unfounded.”
“Market Days gives me an opportunity to show, and sell, things I have made with my hands, with the aid of a few power tools. There is a great deal of satisfaction in that,” he notes. At Florida State, Winston’s research area is theoretical nuclear physics. “In physics, all it takes is one person to give a bad review of your manuscript or proposal and it will either go unpublished or unfunded. With woodworking, all you need is the one person who likes an item you have made, and you probably will have made a sale,” Winston says.
OTHER SELECTED ARTIST FEATURES
Porcelain food graters have been popular in Europe since the 1800’s, but remain a unique item today for Bill Gowdy’s Grumpy Graters.
“This has been around in Europe for about 150 years, but not in this country,” said Bill Gowdy, “It took us almost five years to learn how to produce it. It’s either too sharp or not sharp enough and you have to get the right shape.”
Why use porcelain graters rather than the metal kitchen staples of today? Bill had an easy answer to that question: safety. “You won’t cut your fingers while using a Grumpy Grater. It’s a safe product for kids and senior citizens taking blood thinners or other medications.”
Bill and his wife currently split their time between North Fort Myers and New Hampshire. They decided to participate in their first Market Days last year on the recommendation of other vendors and are proudly returning for another year of holiday shopping fun.
“You might consider buying two or three. I put my name on the bottom because a hundred years from now; they might be on the Antique Road Show and be worth a fortune.”
Thirty-five years ago, Susan Carr did not want to throw away a well-worn, vintage quilt given to her husband by his grandmother, but it was not practical for regular use in her home either. So, naturally, she turned the quilt into Christmas stockings and the rest, as they say, is history as the stockings have now become Susan’s specialty.
Susan works full-time as a school guidance counselor in Troy, Alabama and admits that finding time for her hobby can be difficult. However, her love of the craft and the stories people tell her are what keep her motivated.
“Some of my customers talk about their grandmother’s quilts or chenille bedspreads and wonderful memories of their childhood. Sometimes they even cry. Many people have referred to my stockings as ‘Forever Stockings.’ I am so proud that others enjoy my work.”
Susan will be showcasing her “Forever Stockings” at her first ever Market Days this year. An apt name as those original Christmas stockings she made thirty-five years ago are still used by her family today.
Bob Linn, a Market Days regular for many years, travels to major arts and craft festivals offering unusual woodcraft, including a bow saw-based bread knife and a crumb-collecting cutting board. By the way, Bob also breeds Texas Longhorn cattle, including a bull named world champion by the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association.
Bob lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. He participates in major art shows from California to Florida, but he also finds time to raise registered Texas Longhorn cattle as a member of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association. “We’re preserving the tradition of the longhorn,” breeding it “to keep it pure” and showing at cattle shows throughout the West, he says. His longhorn bull, Toss, named world champion by the Texas Breeders in 2002.
Bob was born in Louisiana and raised in Oklahoma. His mother was a sculptor and his dad a wood worker. He taught himself woodworking skills, with help from his parents. He is now a regular at shows throughout the country, including the St. James Court Art Show in Louisville, Kentucky, the Annual Arts & Crafts Festival in Fairhope, Alabama, Kings Mountain Art Fair in Woodside, California, and Tallahassee’s Market Days.
Several of his pieces are based on traditional Old European products, including his bread knives and cutting boards. Bob produces a cutting board based on a German design. When bread is sliced, the crumbs fall into a box to be used in a cooking recipe. He also makes jewelry boxes and other functional art work. He uses mostly maple, African Padauk, black walnut from Missouri and cherry.
Bob believes he is best known at art shows for his bread knife, based on a traditional European bow saw. The blade is from fine high carbon steel used in commercial bread slicing machines. Some of his customers have used the same knife for cutting bread, meat and cheeses for 30 years. “You won’t be able to wear it out,” he says.
The Outdoor Store in Dalton, Georgia is Phil Hawkins’ regular business, where he crafts wrought iron handrails, driveway gates, fences and more. It was there 15 years ago that Phil first started creating his signature pieces. “A young fellow working for me made a flag stand. It turned out really well. I talked to him and we made a few more.”
Phil tried showcasing his creations but found business to be slow. After a couple of unsuccessful shows, Phil realized he was missing an essential part of a flag stand: a flag! After purchasing a large inventory of flags, Phil sold out of his stands at his next festival and truly began his successful arts & crafts career.
Phil mostly does fall shows. “We travel from Erwin, Tenn., the Apple Festival, to Ocean Springs. Miss., the Peter Anderson Festival, and do a few festivals in between, including the Gold Rush in Dahlonega, Ga., and the Calico Festival in Moultrie. Almost all of the shows we do are to help support worthwhile causes – Lions Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs and the Tallahassee Museum.”
Last year, Phil created Tallahassee Museum logos out of metal and contributed several to the Museum.
Robin Holt, from Tallahassee, produces beads, jewelry, sculptural floral arrangements, pedants and other glass items and shows them throughout Florida and Alabama. She uses an 1800-degree torch and 955-degree annealing kiln and both stained glass and Italian glass rods. An early inspiration for her sophisticated glass artistry was Cinderella.
“I have loved glass since I was a little girl. I attribute this to Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” Robin says. “When I caught sight of that glass slipper on my family’s old black and white TV, I thought I’d never seen anything more beautiful!”
Robin began her art years ago by creating stained glass mosaics but decided to move in a different direction. “I bought a torch and an annealing kiln and began melting glass and making beads,” she remembers. “My style has changed over the years and my beads are becoming more complex, especially my sculpted floral beads. But one of these days, I might just try to torch a glass slipper!”
Robin also works full-time in a Tallahassee law firm, so her travel to art shows must be focused. “I don’t travel more than about 200 miles from my home in Tallahassee,” she says. She has displayed her art in Daphne, Alabama, and throughout Florida. “Of course my favorite shows of all are the local ones, especially Market Days and LeMoyne Chain of Parks,” she says. “Market Days runs like a well-oiled machine. Each and every person involved in its execution pours their heart and soul into it being the success that it is, year after year. I’m always so proud to recommend this show in my hometown to artists I meet who may not know about the gem that it is.”
Margo Hemphill, from Richland, Mississippi, participates in her second Market Days this year.
A fabric artist, she created a unique line of t-shirts, the Woggle, which she describes as “a cute, colorful, sassy tee for women of faith.”
Margo began a second career 15 years ago after resigning as general manager of a large manufacturing firm in Jacksonville, Mississippi, to write a book. “I was unable to find anything that would allow me to be at home with my family every day,” she says. She established Oneway, Inc., a graphic design/promotional products firm in Rankin County, MS. Oneway employs eight people and does graphic/apparel work.
In 2007, she was looking for a line of t-shirts cute and colorful and with an inspirational message.” She didn’t have much luck and realized “I would have to make them myself.” Margo and Oneway created the Woggle line. She now participates in an eight-week craft show schedule each fall and also sells her hand drawn design, silk screen tees throughout the country on an Internet site.
“We have been traveling around the country, sharing our vision and our tees with other like-minded women. Women of faith can be cute, colorful and sassy while still wearing a message that matters!” Margo says.
Margo offers Woggle tees at a few shows in the spring and then during an eight-week show schedule each fall. She began this fall at a large a large craft market in Oklahoma City, then traveled to Columbus, Georgia, to begin “Christmas Made in the South” shows. These Christmas shows included Macon, Savannah and Jacksonville and finally Market Days in Tallahassee.