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Falls crafty designs: Life challenge sparked art for support, healing, hope
Woman turned to selling pieces to help family through illness
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Clothespin angels and gift card envelopes created by Jessica Fincher are for sale at The Tree House vendor booth on Saturday during the Woodland Ramble at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Smithgall Woodland Legacy in Gainesville. The root of Fincher’s inspiration for her creations came from her boyfriend, who has stage four colon cancer. - photo by Erin O. Smith

In most cases, artistic endeavors are a hobby, profession or skill that have been tweaked to fulfill the creative need of an individual. But rarely does one hear of art created as a way of supporting a family in a difficult situation.

For Buford artist Jessica Fincher, selling art was a way of turning her hobbies into an additional stream of revenue after a cancer diagnosis turned her family’s life upside down.

“If you would have told me that this was my life last year, I would have told you that you are crazy,” Fincher said Saturday while staffing her booth at the Woodland Ramble Arts and Crafts festival, held at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Smithgall Woodland Legacy in Gainesville.

Fincher, a former emergency responder, was preparing to begin a life in Buford with her boyfriend Frank Martinez and his two young sons in 2015. But after Martinez began to experience a series of symptoms, doctors gave a grim diagnosis: stage 4 colon cancer.

Before his illness, Martinez and Fincher worked as emergency fire and medical responders. Fincher says she is still stunned by how quickly her life has changed.

“Going from saving lives to this, it’s a totally opposite lifestyle,” she said.

In the past year, Fincher has relied on her antique-selling business, called The Powdered Munchkin, and arts events to support her family.

At the event, Fincher displayed a series of white and tan dreamcatchers and wind ornaments, handcrafted by Fincher in a furious burst of creation in the weeks preceding the festival.

“I took a chance and asked to be part of the event, just to see,” she said.

She explained that when event planners told her they had room for her, she had to scramble to craft her idea.

“I was like ‘Oh my god, I don’t have anything made.’ So I got in the shower that morning and I thought about it,” she said.

The theme of Fincher’s white, soft and light dreamcatchers look to be inspired by her time spent as wedding planner. Each is wrapped in white cloth, woven throughout with tan jute string and adorned with different items like strings of white beads, lace, pieces of sanded wood and mysterious vials filled with colored beads.

Fincher says the design of each dreamcatcher, an image of a tree woven from jute string, was inspired by the ancient “the tree of life” symbol.

She says that she first saw the tree symbol during one of her many trips to the Cancer Center of America in Newnan with Martinez, and that the symbol struck a chord with her.

She said she will continue to sell dreamcatchers to spread the message of hope and rebirth.

“I hope that I can continue this project, because cancer touches so many people in so many ways, It’s unreal,” said Fincher.

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