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. He works influenced by his mother, a sculptor, and his dad, a woodworker. He taught himself woodworking skills, with help from his parents. 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 find 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 of his longhorn bull, Toss, named world champion by the Texas Breeders in 2002.
He is now a regular at shows throughout the country, including the St. James Court ArtShow in Louisville, Kentucky, the Annual Arts & Crafts Festival in Fairhope, Alabama, Kings Mountain ArtFair in Woodside, California, and Tallahassee’s MarketDays. Several of his pieces based on traditional Old European products, including his bread knives and cutting boards.
Bob produces a cutting board based on a German design, as well as jewelry boxes and other functional artwork. 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.
OTHER SELECTED ARTIST FEATURES
Mary Jo Spector
“My focus is on bugs, birds, and buildings,” says Tallahassee architect and artist Mary Jo Spector. Mary Jo is a pen and ink artist from Tallahassee and also works at Florida State University as a project manager. Market Days is her go-to fall event in Tallahassee. “It is a great way to support the Tallahassee Museum and the work that they do.”
As noted, her work features bugs, birds, and buildings, and she highlights local flora and fauna. She is a pen and ink artist, utilizing colored, metallic, and black inks on paper. She has been drawing since she was a young girl.
Mary Jo offers her work at six to eight shows a year, mainly in Tallahassee and North Florida. “I take a notebook and pens where ever I travel and sketch on the train, the road, and in the street,” she says. “All of this is fun! Meeting people and other artists sustain me and keep me doing what I do.”
Fred caught a fish and his Oriental art took off from there. Quincy’s Fred Fisher managed to convert a fishing hobby and interest in the ancient Oriental art of Gyotaku into a full-time profession, which takes him to shows like Market Days.
Fred’s acrylic fish etchings have become a Market Days staple, and he has become one of the festival’s most popular artists. Japanese fishermen developed this form of art in the 1800’s “to accurately record the size of their catch,” Fred relates. Each fish covered with colorful acrylic paint om hand-made paper pressed onto the surface of the fish.
“When I lift the paper, it creates a unique mirror image of the fish,” he says. Fred began fish etchings or fish impressions 15 years ago as a fun hobby. It is now a full-time occupation for Fred and his wife, Andi, who exhibit in more than 20 shows a year as far away as Michigan, Texas, Kentucky, and the Florida Keys. “I’m basically a fisherman,” Fred concludes, although now also a talented professional artist, and “one of the best things is still catching the fish.”
Scott Hornbaker, from St. Mary’s, Georgia, grinds, bends, and welds shepherd hooks, plant holders, dragonflies, and other ornamental art. He has a pretty unusual background. “One of the things I like most is that I’m my own boss doing this kind of work. I come from a manufacturing background, formerly working at Mack Trucks in Maryland, where we made engines and transmissions,” Scott relates.
“I was always drawn to the ornamental aspect of what metal can do.” Scott specializes in 3-D crafted items that are heavier duty than what sold in stores. He has participated in shows in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia as well as Florida and Georgia. Scott says, “I sell lost of Christmas gifts that come with a 100% guaranteed to not end up in a drawer or a closet!”
Babs Schnabl, from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, offers pressed flower artwork and jewelry at Market Days and 30 other craft shows throughout the country. She began her art 25 years ago as a distraction after her seven-year-old son suffered a stroke. “The therapy my garden yielded was a God-send and provided mental sanity,” Babs says. ” My love for flowers and spending time in my garden opened the pathway to express myself through art using flowers.”
Babs’ artwork is unique. The technique she has developed to press her flowers achieves a “truly stunning and 3-dimensional effect,” she says. “No two pieces are exactly alike.” Her pressed flower jewelry is created using a stained glass method. “They are just smaller versions of my art that can be worn to adorn.” “Stop by and smell the roses and chat with me,” Babs says.” My flowers want you to be so happy as they are.”
Clay and Valarie Oliver – Oliver Farm Artisan Oils
Gas prices had soared, the economy was struggling and Clay and Valarie Oliver were researching whether they could produce fuel for their Georgia farm. “My initial thought was to make my gasoline,” Clay remembers. The equipment needed to extract oil was very expensive, and it would take years to recover the investment. “I was fortunate to meet a couple of people who influenced me to consider growing, processing, and selling food-grade oil.” Clay and Valarie discovered the cold-pressed method of oil extraction, which leaves valuable vitamins and nutrients in the food oils and retains natural flavors and colors.
“In 2012, I grew my first crop of sunflowers for oil production and by the end of that year, I had pressed oil from sunflowers, pecans, and peanuts all grown in Wilcox County,” Clay says. “More oils followed and Oliver Farm Artisan Oils quickly caught the attention of chefs and foodies.” Clay, Valarie and Oliver Farm Artisan Oils have participated in shows as large as the Fancy Food Show in New York City and as small as their hometown festival in Abbeville, GA, “and we enjoy them all,” he says. “This will be our third year at Market Days and we look forward to visiting Tallahassee each year. It is a big city with a small-town feel.”
Justin Howard used a welding background and experience at his cousin’s ranch in north Georgia to develop his expertise in horseshoe art and make it a full-time profession. From Ellijay, Georgia, north of Atlanta, Justin returns to Market Days, offering 60 items made from horseshoes.
His creations include horse head and steer head sculptures, chickens, hooks, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees, wreaths and other yard art and household items. While working at his cousin’s ranch, Justin noticed “horseshoes lying around. I started tinkering with them. One thing led to another and I realized this is what I wanted to do,” he says. He took his work to local farmer’s markets and was so successful; he turned to this new hobby full-time. He was born and raised in Marianna in west Florida. His sister lives in Crawfordville and helps out each year during Market Days.
Ron and Sharon Sutek
Dredging of Pensacola Bay inspired jeweler Ron Sutek began producing
thousands of seashells of various sizes, shapes and colors in the early 2000s. Like many Pensacola residents, Ron Sutek got a bucket of shells, not sure what he would do with them until “My wife asked me to make her a pair of earrings,” Ron remembers. “I monkeyed around and made them out of seashells.” His daughter loved them and wanted a pair. Friends also wanted the unique seashell jewelry he was producing.
Ron liked what he was doing, but wanted to get better, so he attended a jeweler’s school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After the school, Ron stopped creating shell jewelry. He now creates from 14-carat gold, Sterling Silver and Swarovski Crystals and Swarovski Pearls. Ron has three booths at Market Days, 9,000 hand-made creations – necklaces, bracelets anklets and earrings. “If you don’t see it, describe it and I can make it,” Ron promises.
Lisa Mitchell, from Alpharetta, Georgia, has sold quilted handbags and other accessories at Market Days and other craft shows for years. Recently, she began also offering color coordinated dog collars and leases. “Our customers always wanted to buy our adjustable straps (from the handbags) for leashes and asked if we could just make dog products,” Lisa says. She and her husband, Allen, began to create collars and leashes, dog scarves, treat bags and “a poo bag pouch.” “I like to sew,” Lisa says. “It also involves our whole family. My husband and I do most of the sewing. Our daughters help with quilting, designing products, work on the website and other various things.”
Louise Plunket-Duteau’s Ladybug Bows had come a long way from its beginning when Louise made hair bows for her little girl. Ladybug Bows was established in 1990 when Louise’s second child was born. As a full-time school teacher, she hesitated to leave a three-year-old and an infant to work outside of the home. “My neighbor, who saw my daughter’s hair bows, suggested that I sell them.” And she did.
Louise, from Boca Raton, is participating in her second Market Days. Her bows offered at a variety of other venues, including trunk shows, craft shows, school events, home parties, boutiques, Etsy and the Ladybug Bows Internet site. “You can now find our bows in the hair of girls and women of all ages and even the occasional puppy around Florida and many other states,” she says.
Phil Hawkins began producing metal flag stands about 15 years ago and selling them at area arts & craft shows. Business was slow until Phil and his wife began providing the flags too. “The whole key was the flags. People wanted a flag to go with the metal flag stands. We bought a lot of flags and our flag stand business took off,” Phil says.
Phil will be bringing about 6,000 flags, to complement the flag poles. He has “several hundred different designs.” The Outdoor Store in Dalton is Phil’s regular business. It produces wrought iron handrails, driveway gates, fences and more. “We had the materials and equipment. A young fellow working for me made a flag stand,” Phil says. “It turned out really well and we made a few more.” After a couple of unsuccessful festivals, Phil purchased a large inventory of flags and at the next festival, he sold out and began his successful arts & crafts adventure.
Porcelain food graters for garlic, ginger, cheeses and other food ingredients have been popular in Europe since the 1800’s, but Bill Gowdy’s Grumpy Graters remain a unique item at Market Days and other American arts & food festivals. “This has been around in Europe for about 150 years, but not in this country,” Bill says. “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.”
Grumpy Graters are hand crafted and shaped like a saucer with the grater on the bottom. Bill demonstrates his graters with garlic and parmesan cheese. “You won’t cut your fingers while using a Grumpy Grater, Bill says. It’s a safe product for kids and senior citizens taking blood thinners or other medications making them bleed easily.