Three craft shows during last weekend showcased the finest in local artistic skill.
In each of the venues, there were certain crafters who were able to see into another dimension to design some incredible primitive and country-style creations with heart-felt passion.
Brenda Sue Mikell, who lives outside of Vandergrift, has experienced several extreme turning points in her life. Her two sons are addiction survivors, now holding down jobs and continuing education. She cared for her parents who are terminally ill.
“I had taken care of my parents for 33 months. After they were placed in a personal care home for advanced care, I needed something to do. God has brought me here today. I have never felt this warmth that I feel now. I believe that this my calling.”
Brenda sees something unique in old items others have discarded.
“I will go to the Salvation Army or flea markets and I will buy a little teacup, for example, and then I buy things to make them look rustic from craft stores.”
This is Brenda’s first year displaying her crafts.
“I have just started out with some fairs, craft shows, and vendor shows. I picked the name ‘Made With Love’ because everything I make is made with love.”
Over the hill at Armstrong High School, another local woman is finding success as she displays her craft.
Maria DiGregorio from Ford City has spent 27 years working with dialysis patients. Her crafts represent years of creating personal artifacts she has displayed in her home.
“When I paint, there is a calming. I just enjoy doing it.
Maria mixes antiques into her craft. Whatever she creates, it is an extension of her enjoyment of her family.
“I like the primitive look. I’m pretty old-fashion. I like the old ancestry – the look, the genuine kind of style. I like things that make me happy. It makes me smile. I look at things and ask ‘What can I make of that?’ to bring into my home. We have a close family and I like to make things look nice. A lot of designs just come into my head.”
Her style captivated the crowd that came to the vendor show that was sponsored by the Armstrong High School Softball Boosters.
“I have a lot of orders. I have people coming to me asking me to come to other shows.”
Maria will also be one of 70 vendors expected at “My Dad’s Farm” – a craft exhibition on the Fichthorn Farm at 345 Fort Run Road in Manor Township during the first two weekends of November.
Many of her creations carry a Christmas or winter theme. She uses special paint to create a rustic look on everything from a handsaw, to old wash tub, and her favorite – a snowman made out of old shutters. Many of her pieces are painted on pieces of wood that she gets from a unusual source.
“A patient of mine at the dialysis clinic cuts wood. He cuts it and planes it with his planer, then let’s me know he has it. He cuts it from dead trees, and then I can make something of it. He is disabled and on dialysis, but gives him a purpose. He is a part of what I create. It means a lot to me.”
Her daughter plays softball, so Maria was active in the vendor show last year and this year. However, since most of the items are from her personal collection, she doesn’t do very many shows. Many customers are requesting special items that she will create in the coming months.
Neither of these crafters have a shop, but choose to display their crafts at local shows that support non-profit organizations.