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Crafters enjoy the art and income
Fall festivals are a time for local artists to be rewarded for efforts
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Tina L. Carrington spins yarn at her home in Chicopee Village. Carrington has been spinning for eight years. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Artisans and craftspeople may gain some intrinsic pleasure from works they have created by hand, but money also can be made off quilts, paintings and pottery. 

Fall festivals are filled with people selling their wares, even as they are busy working to add more merchandise to their booths.

Tina L. Carrington of Chicopee Village in Gainesville sells her hand-spun yarns and hand-knitted items through a business, Spinster Yarns, putting her work on display at festivals and a Web site, www.1spinsterknits.etsy.com.

"It's more something I enjoy doing," she said. "But ... it's hard to turn a profit, really. The materials are not cheap and it's hard to compete with commercially produced items."

Jessica Drexler of Gainesville started about five years ago selling jewelry to friends and acquaintances. "Then, I decided to do a couple of art shows," she said. "I've done a few every year since then."

Drexler said she enjoys taking her jewelry on the road.

"It's very fun. You get to interact with a lot of different people. You get to meet other artists and ... other people find out what you're doing creatively," she said.

Don Rank of Dawsonville has been making and selling pottery at shows for five or six years. A commercial photographer for 35 years, he began making pottery 11 years ago.

With the move toward digital photography, "they took away my darkroom and put me in front of a computer," Rank said. "That was OK, but I had to find another creative outlet for my hands-on stuff."

He struck up a conversation with a potter at a craft show and walked away thinking "I bet I could do that."

"I continue to do photography, but I do this too," Rank said.

He said many vendors he has met at shows say they have thrown themselves into selling their works with the goal of being self-
employed at some point.

"We come at it from a different aspect because we have been self-employed for so long I'm not so sure I want to turn this into a full-blown business," Rank said.

Rank said his wife, Jayne, helps him set up shows and serves as my "chief cheerleader."

"Most of what we market is either (through) word of mouth or at these craft shows."

Artists may be selective about which shows they want to attend. Some shows are more artist-centered and focus more on judging and presenting art, while other festivals feature attractions such as face painting, pony rides and corn dog booths.

"When I tell people I do a fall show in Gainesville, they assume it's Mule Camp and it's not," Drexler said.

She began her public selling at the Art in the Square art festival. The fifth annual event is set for Oct. 4 in downtown Gainesville.

Carrington, a knitter for about 20 years, said she has always "revered true handcraft." She belongs to the Georgia Mountain Handspinners' Guild.

"By spending so much time with fellow artists, I have come to understand how much care, effort and communal experience are embodied in each work," she said. "... We are anything but quaint."

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