2018-12-01 / Features


The talents of local crafters are on display this time of year
Maggie Anderson | Photos by Matt Fern

For many of us, the rush of holiday madness has just begun, as we flock to stores and sales checking off things on our gift lists. But for talented crafters in the area, prepping for the holidays started weeks or even months ago. They’ve been working hard to make sure their wares are carefully crafted and lovingly made, ready to go from their hands to your homes.

From knitted hats to hand-thrown plates, blown glass ornaments to intricate paper cuttings, the following pages hold a lot of beauty, and represent a lot of time spent and painstaking attention to detail. And everything you see was made right here in our community. We talked to just a handful of the many incredibly creative makers in our area about their crafts, being an artist and what’s so special about having — or giving — something handmade.

Christine Stangel | C.S. Stangel Pottery | Est. 2012

Christine Stangel’s pottery draws inspiration from landscapes and gardens, creatingChristine StangelChristine Stangel in each piece a work of art. But her favorite part of working in ceramics is when her pieces are used.

“The most wonderful part of being an artist is the ability to have a connection with the customer and knowing each piece may be used every day,” says the mother of four. “This personal connection brings me absolute pleasure and joy as a potter.”

Stangel first learned the art during a beginner class at a family summer camp — “I was hooked!” — and slowly grew her hobby into a business.

“I was looking for a zen moment for myself, something different, and who knew it would go into this,” she says, noting that joining the Art Aliance of Central Pennsylvania Potters Guild is what really kick-started her career.

Working from her basement studio at home, Stangel combines floral aspects, landscape inspiration and a cool color scheme to create a number of different pieces that, while all different, come together under a common theme.

“I realized that I was kind of creating Monet’s garden,” she says. “I love gardening, I love the landscape around the area, but I love cooking, too. All of my family, we all cook. So this kind of encompasses everything we love.”

Find C.S. Stangel Pottery at:
Winter Craft Market
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer
Palmer Museum Holiday Art and Ornament Sale
Potters Guild Holiday Sale
The Gallery Shop (year-round)

Carol Baney | Flotsam & Jetson Jewelry | Est. 2012

One woman’s broken watch becomes another woman’s necklace through the eyes and hands of Carol Carol BaneyCarol BaneyBaney. The trash-to-treasure jewelry with a steampunk vibe is created from an array of bits and baubles gathered from flea markets and auctions.

“Vintage watch gears or salvaged escutcheons are carefully manufactured objects,” she says. “By refashioning these into jewelry, I extend their useful lives and share their innate beauty with new audiences.”

Plus, she says, “I like playing in the piles of parts. You need a heap just to find what you’re going to put in one little spot.”

Baney’s artistic side business complements her day job as director of operations for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts — and even helps her with that role.

“Going out to these shows, I get to meet a lot of artists,” she says. “I also get the feel for what we might be doing wrong or what we could change. The nice thing is that I find we do things pretty well.”
Find Flotsam & Jetson Jewelry at:
Holiday Gift Gallery at the Art Alliance Gallery Downtown
Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County’s Holiday Show and Sale
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer
Winter Craft Market
Bellefonte Victorian Christmas Arts & Crafts Show

Christine Smith | MaplePaperCuts | Est. 2005

Christine Smith’s work holds whole worlds on one sheet of paper. The artist, who has been paper Christine SmithChristine Smithcutting on and off for the past 20 years, has always “had a fascination with miniature worlds.”

“I love building fairy houses with my children and imagining all the little lives that real and made-up animals live,” she says. “I have a deep love of nature and strive to bring that passion into my work.”

A stay-at-home mom to two school-aged children, Smith has a little more time now to devote to her craft and looks forward to becoming more active in the local art scene — and showcasing the ancient art form she practices.

“There was a time when paper cutting seemed to be a dying art,” she says. “I am happy to say now that it is truly making a comeback!”

After sketching out a design, Smith uses a very sharp Xacto knife — “The second the tip breaks you have to change it” — and that’s about it.

“I don’t have any technical art experience,” she says. “It just sort of stuck with me since I was little. I find it extremely meditative and relaxing. My heart is filled when I am working, and the more I do, the more energized I become.”

Find MaplePaperCuts at:
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer
Holiday Gift Gallery at the Art Alliance Gallery Downtown

Pamela Luu | Still Not a Hippie | Est. 2014

Pamela Luu wants to make you happy, and she’s betting orange cinnamon clove is what it takes.Pamela LuuPamela Luu
“That’s one of my seasonal scents,” says the maker of balms and lotions. “I have one customer who put in three orders already. I think she’s stocking up for the holidays.”

Luu discovered solid lotions in her “road warrior days” and loved the ease of use while traveling. “I loved how simple and natural they were and they did the job. Plus, they don’t take up any valuable space in that 3-1-1 liquids bag.”

Still Not a Hippie’s line of products includes solid lotions in a variety of scents as well as lip balms, essential oils and a number of specialized products like headache balm and tattoo balm.

“I slowly became more mindful of what I was putting on my body by choosing more natural,” she says. “I decided to just start making products for myself and friends, and then from there, I went with the flow as people started asking if they could buy what I was making.”

In addition to making her products and taking them to shows most weekends, Luu also works at Emporium Market, the year-old store in the Nittany Mall that sells a variety of local and handmade goods.

“You could definitely say that I’m one of those makers who’s juggling all sorts of things while trying to grow a small business,” she says.

Find Still Not a Hippie at:
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer
Lemont Christmas Market
The Makery Market (year-round)
Emporium Market (year-round)

Kate Veneziano | The Beefy Chicken | Est. 2014

Kate Veneziano would like you to stop thinking of embroidery as a hobby your grandmother did and Kate VenezianoKate Venezianostart thinking of it as art.

“I wish people knew how many amazing embroidery artists are out there,” she says. “Every artist has their own method of stitching, and the work ranges from intricate and realistic to beautifully imperfect and stylized. It should be taken seriously like any other medium.”

Veneziano’s personal style comes through a bit in her business’s name — The Beefy Chicken — which is based on a drawing she did in junior high.

“It’s a silly thing I came up with, and it just kind of stuck,” she says. But it showcases her whimsical nature and even mixing of materials.

“Sometimes I do straight-up stitiching, but sometimes I do different layers of fabric and paint sections of it. It depends on the piece.”

Veneziano does her work on the side and works at 2000 Degrees in downtown State College, but she hopes to one day be a full-time artist.

“I’ve always known I wanted to make things with my hands,” she says. “I really enjoy the slow process. Each stitch determines the next, and you control the texture you’re creating. It’s a very tactile form of visual art.”

Find The Beefy Chicken at:
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer

Tom & Mary Freidly | Freidlys’ Woodcrafts | Est. 2015

Tom and Mary Freidly may be retired, but they’ve never been busier. The husband-and-wife woodcraftTom FreidlyTom Freidly team opened shop three years ago and haven’t slowed down since.

“The business took off faster than we thought it would,” says Tom, who retired from Verizon Communications in 2013, but says he was always working with wood.

“I’ve always been building something since I was a small boy,” he says. “When our son went to college, I found more time and room in our basement… Very quickly I ended up with a decently equipped woodshop. The more I did, the better I got, and that just fired the passion to try new and different projects.”

Now the pair ships custom pens, razors, game boards and more — carved by Tom and finished by Mary — across the country and even around the globe.

“My three biggest markets right now are Australia, Germany and California,” says Tom. Customers seem to appreciate the custom nature of the work; while there are ready-made items available through their Etsy shop, mostly those generate emails asking for something specific.

“I think that’s what pushes us apart from everybody else,” says Tom. “We make it how you want it.”
Find Freidlys’ Woodcrafts at:
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer

Susan, Scott & Jeff Wise | Second Season Wear | Est. 2007

Susan Wise and her family are making what’s old new again. By transforming old sweaters into Susan WiseSusan Wisemittens, Second Season Wear gives old clothes new life. But for Susan and her husband, Scott, and son, Jeff, it’s almost second nature.

“Upcycling is a modern word for what our parents and grandparents did on a daily basis,” she says. “It was called being frugal. We are now continuing that process in today’s world, trying to be more resourceful with our possessions.”

To make each pair, old sweaters are felted, a process that shrinks sweaters and pulls the fibers tighter together. “It really makes a barrier,” says Susan, and that’s good for her customers, some of whom have Raynaud’s syndrome, a condition in which blood vessels in the fingers and toes overconstrict in the cold.

“I never knew what that was until I started making mittens,” says Susan, who has many customers with the syndrome. “They’re just so thankful to get these.”

And when people ask if they really do keep your hands warm, Susan can relate the story of the man who ordered a pair to take on a fishing trip to Mongolia.

“I say, ‘Well, they’ll keep your hands warm in Mongolia!’”

Find Second Season Wear at:
Winter Craft Market
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer

Angela Pope | valleypurl | Est. 2014

You may have seen Angela Pope’s work on heads and necks around town — the knitter’s chunky Angela PopeAngela Popetextures and elegant patterns tend to catch the eye, including her own.

“By far, the most exciting thing for me is when I see someone that I’m not closely acquainted with wearing and enjoying something that I’ve made,” she says. “The first time was in Kern Building and I went up to her and said, ‘I made that!’”

The Penn State human resources professional started knitting years ago as a therapeutic activity. “I took an eight-week beginners knitting class that coincided with a particularly difficult time in my life,” she says. “I never started knitting with an intention to make a side business of it.”

But when Kitchen Kaboodle owner Katie Dawes saw her work, valleypurl was born. Now, Pope has transformed a closet — “Well, let’s be honest… an entire bedroom” — into a yarn room and spends her time “making things that other people will enjoy.”

“Some things only take an hour or two,” she says. “Other things, really heartfelt gifts, take upwards of 40 hours,” including sweaters like the ones her aunt made her as a child that inspired her to learn to knit.

And though she’s come a long way from that first class, she says, “I still find that knitting is therapeutic to my soul, just in a different way.”

Find valleypurl at:
Winter Craft Market
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer
Kitchen Kaboodle (year-round)
Emporium Market (year-round)

K.C. Peck | Ear Emporium | Est. 2011

K.C. Peck has always enjoyed creating. “I find great satisfaction in transforming a rough, raw material K.C. PeckK.C. Peckinto an attractive finished product,” he says. And that’s what he and his wife, Aimee, do with wood to create intricate jewelry with a laser cutter.

The couple uses sustainably harvested natural woods like oak, walnut and maple to form earrings, necklaces and more, and though the laser cutting process is automated, each piece is a work of art.
“From creating the designs and sanding and finishing the raw wood to attaching the ear wires and putting them on their display cards, each piece receives plenty of individual attention from Aimee and I.”

And they have put that same attention into Emporium Market, a store in the Nittany Mall that sells their work along with the products of more than 70 local and regional makers.

“We opened in the beginning of October last year, just for the season,” Peck says. “But it went well enough we decided to stay.”

And while the mall has seen stores close at a rapid pace, Peck says it works for their model. “The mall isn’t what it used to be, but that’s just because the way people are buying things has changed. What we offer is all better to buy in person — you can see it and smell it and touch it. It doesn’t make sense to buy local through the mail.”

And Peck is not stopping there — Emporium Edibles, a food counter focused on local food, is set to open this month. It will feature coffee from East End Coffee Co. in Lewistown and smoothies and salads — to start.

“We’ll start super simple,” says Peck, “but keep the focus on local products.”

Find Ear Emporium at:
Emporium Market (year-round)

Jim Byrnes | James F. Byrnes Blown Glass | Est. 2000

Jim Byrnes has spent his life working as a glassblower, from his first job as an interpreter for tourists at Jim ByrnesJim Byrnesa glass studio in New Jersey. “I was trained as a scientific glassblower apprentice,” he says. But he was always interested in the creative side of the craft. “I like to work with my hands, and the uncommon nature of glassblowing appeals to me.”

The artist works with a small torch to create each unique piece, which takes about 30 minutes. “I think most people think of someone holding a blowpipe with molten glass on the end,” he says. “I do that also, but my ornaments are created within the flame of a torch.”

Byrnes’ ornaments seem to encapsulate a duality of form and beauty in symmetrical designs with pleasing pops of color. “I like the scale,” says Byrnes. “It allows for lots of different design possibilities. Everybody who creates with glass makes ornaments because they are popular and sell well during the holiday season, but I try to make ornaments that can also stand alone as art glass pieces.”

Find James F. Byrnes Blown Glass at:
The Gallery Shop in Lemont (year-round)
Holiday Gift Gallery at the Art Alliance Gallery Downtown
Centre Furnace Mansion Stocking Stuffer
Bellefonte Victorian Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
Winter Craft Market
Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg

Merry Markets

Last month, we had Small Business Saturday following Black Friday, but buying local is always in season. This month, there’s even more options with a bevy of bazaars and special sales around the area.

The Gallery Shop
For local art this month and year-round, visit the Gallery Shop in Lemont, right next to the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, where many of the artists work and show their art.

The Makery Market
At The Makery in downtown State College
Find handmade treasures at The Makery Market inside the arts and crafts studio for children and adults on Calder Way. The beautifully curated boutique features local and regional artists in a variety of media.

Emporium Market
In the Nittany Mall
Browse products from more than 70 local and regional artisans, crafters and makers at this unique outpost for handmade goods. Also look for Emporium Edibles, a new food counter focused on local food, opening this month.

Holiday Show & Sale at the Bellefonte Art Museum
Through Dec. 23 at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County
See beautiful new exhibits and shop for local art all in the same place at the Bellefonte Art Museum. Stop in the museum’s new store, Twiga, for handcrafted goods from near and far.

Holiday Gift Gallery
Through Dec. 24 at the Art Alliance Gallery Downtown
Browse unique gift items by local artists all month long at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania’s downtown State College space. The art includes photography, handmade books, painting, jewelry, ornaments, fiber arts, paper cuttings, drawings and more.

16th Annual Stocking Stuffer, A Magical Holiday Market
Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at Centre Furnace Mansion
The Centre County Historical Society’s annual sale features art, crafts and antiques from more than 50 local vendors in the historical Centre Furnace Mansion decorated in full Victorian Christmas fashion. The $5 admission includes hot cider and desserts, and proceeds benefit the nonprofit.

8th Annual Handmade Holiday Market
Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at Bremen Town Ballroom in Millheim
Head to the annual Merry Millheim celebration and make a stop at the Bremen Town Ballroom for local handmade crafts including cigar box guitars, hand-knitted scarves, recycled glass art and more.

43rd Annual Juried Winter Craft Market
Dec. 1 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel
Last year, the Winter Craft Market moved to its new location at the Penn Stater to provide even more space for the dozens of local craft vendors to share their wares. The artisans include many jewelry makers and fiber artists as well as those who work in wood, clay and mixed media.

Elves’ Gift Shop
Dec. 1 at Park Forest Middle School
The Junior Woman’s Club of State College’s annual fundraiser is geared toward area children who shop for their parents, teachers, siblings and more with the help of local Girl Scouts. Adult shoppers can peruse the craft bazaar, snack bar, holiday raffle and cookie sale.

Lemont German Christmas Market
Dec. 7-8 at The Granary in Lemont
This 10th annual German-style market includes craft and art vendors as well as a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, Speeder rides by the Bellefonte Historic Railroad Society and offerings from local food vendors.

Friends of the Palmer Holiday Art and Ornament Sale
Dec. 8-9 at the Palmer Museum of Art
The Palmer’s annual sale kicks off Friday with a members-only preview and continues through the weekend with proceeds from the sale benefiting the museum. One of the unique aspects of this event is the annual ornament designed by a different artist each year. This year’s piece is by studio glass artist James Hayes.

Bellefonte Under the Lights: Winter Market
Dec. 8 at the Bellefonte Waterfront
During Bellefonte’s Victorian Christmas celebration, a new event will make its debut. Following the success of September’s Bellefonte Under the Lights dinner, an open-air winter market with local makers and artisans will pop up at the recently refinished waterfront walk.

Old Gregg School Winter Craft Fair
Dec. 8 at Old Gregg School Community and Recreation Center
Take a trip to Penns Valley to discover more than 40 vendors at the annual Old Gregg School Winter Craft Fair. Enjoy music and food while you shop, and enjoy knowing that proceeds from the sale support the community center.

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