Dolls and delights offered at craft fair

November 3, 2016

What began as a hobby with her children has become an all-consuming passion for expert doll-maker Peggy Bieler, one of many local vendors to showcase handmade goods at the 10th annual Arts and Crafts Fair Saturday and Sunday at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

Over 50 vendors are expected for the two-day event, exclusively offering handmade items showcasing the unique talents of local artisans ranging from woodworking to painting, photography, metal work, jewelry, soaps, floral arrangements, pottery and much more. The annual show is one of two major artist showcases coordinated by the Rock and Arrowhead Club.

Already an avid painter and quilter, Bieler began tinkering with doll patterns, learning new ways to personalize designs with each new doll. Decades later, the Bieler home has been overrun with dolls big and small, filling every chair, bed and shelf overflowing to the point where a storage shed became necessary. Bieler will work on multiple dolls at once, some taking as much as a month to complete.

Uniquely crafted

The 2016 Arts and Crafts Fair will be the third straight year that Bieler will join other local artisans to sell unique handmade items. She draws inspiration from people and images, finding a never-ending supply of ideas for the next doll project. After decades of work, Bieler has produced thousands of dolls, turning it into a side business only after it became impossible to find space to store all of them in the house.

“I may use a base pattern to get started, but every doll is unique and original,” said Bieler. “I do my own things; I love to do the faces — that’s my favorite part. I’ll see someone and think I should make a doll that looks like them.”

Bieler’s unique dolls found an audience when she began attending various bazaars, starting with Hosanna Christian High School’s craft show. Soon she was taking her dolls to local churches and events as far as Malin to sell her dolls. A loyal audience soon developed seeking out her newest designs. “They come, they see, they buy,” said Bieler.

Developing personality

For materials Bieler starts with a fabric design and then customizes to bring out its personality, incorporating trinkets compiled from garage sales and hand-me-downs like old jeans, baby shoes, old glasses, Christmas decorations and Halloween costumes. Each doll is a one-of-a-kind, some with bead work or cultural homages and attire from different time periods. Often while completing a doll Bieler will find inspiration for the next project, always seeking to present something new and different.

“Unless I really like something I don’t do it again,” said Bieler. “Even if there are some similar designs, they are never the same. I learn something new every time I make a doll.”

Prices for a Bieler doll range from $15 up to $250 for more intricate designs, variant on the amount of time dedicated to each unique design. “My friends say they can tell if I like a doll because it costs more,” laughed Bieler. “If I don’t like a doll it isn’t particularly expensive.”

Last year’s two-day Arts and Crafts Show had over 500 visitors to peruse products by more than 60 vendors, some coming as far away as Lakeview and Redding to participate. The only requirement is that no store-bought products will be sold.

Wide variety of items

“Everything will be there, from jewelry to horseshoes,” said Leah Stump, a 25-year member of the Rock and Arrowhead Club. “A lot of our members make jewelry at home, so this is their opportunity to display and sell it. This is an offshoot of our main show in March.”

The Rock and Arrowhead Club, established in the 1960s, has over 100 active members. The club often hosts field trips, the sunstone collection area in Lake County east of Plush being a particularly popular locale to hunt for interesting finds. Club meetings are open to the public, held on the second Monday of each month at the Klamath County Museum at 7 p.m. For more information, visit the club’s website at www.klamathrockclub.org.