Zonta’s annual spring show features crafters using reclaimed materials

April 9, 2018

Forty-nine vendors from across the state displayed their wares to Northridge Plaza visitors on Saturday and Sunday at the Zonta Club of Pierre/Fort Pierre’s annual spring craft show.

A common theme across several of the crafters was their use of reclaimed materials – stuff that began life as something else, like a feed bunk from a barn, which had been transformed into something new, like a handsome dining room table.

The table was crafted by Jay Curry and Brad Garrett of Hidden Timber. The seams between the pine slabs – glued together to make the broad surface – were essentially invisible. The cracks that followed the grain of the feed bunk board gave it character, so they were left open for a coffee table made from the old lumber. For the dining table, though, the cracks were filled – to keep crumbs from getting becoming lodged there, Garrett said.

Curry had also mitered some picture frames from the old barn wood, and they included photos from the set of the movie “Dances with Wolves,” which was filmed on some ranches in the Pierre area, among other locations. Curry built the sets for the movie.

The wood that went into the furniture and frames built by the two men came from a barn on US-14, just outside of Pierre, they said. They didn’t know exactly when it was built but said it had been in disrepair for about 50 years.

Salvaged materials from old structures also made up a fair bit of the wares from Two Crafty People, Kerin and Morrie Bertell. Morrie’s parents’ homestead burned down, Kerin said, and they recovered the corrugated metal from outbuildings. From that metal, she had cut out shapes – like various letters, leaves, and the state of South Dakota. Having an outline of the state was a handy way for Kerin to show the Capital Journal exactly where Bristol is – between Aberdeen and Watertown.

Kerin’s tool of choice for slicing the metal is a plasma cutter. It’s akin to using a pen, that just happens to be able to slice through heavy gauge metal with its hot plasma arc, she said.

Also crafting his wares from material that’s in some sense reclaimed was Mike Brumbaugh from Aberdeen, who sells the bowls he turns from wood under the name Wooden Works. When the Capital Journal met him at the fall Zonta craft show last year, he said if he could turn only one kind of wood for the rest of his life it would be box elder.

Saturday morning, though, Brumbaugh was talking about blue spruce, and pointed out a bowl with an obvious blueish tint. The wood’s color came from a pest called the pine beetle, Brumbaugh said, which had wreaked havoc in the Black Hills. He knew a forester who had permission to cut and resell blue spruce there, and he’d bought an 8-foot log.

Objects reclaimed by Charlene “Charlie” Bessken – who markets her wares under the name Charlie’s Craft Room – include everything from whisky bottles to tea kettles. She doesn’t build new objects out of them; she paints them – with images of flowers, or freshly hatched chicks. She thought the tea kettle with the chick might be suitable for Easter. Even though Easter is now past, the image still evokes spring, so might appeal to a buyer who’s looking for a seasonal theme, she said.

Bessken described the technique she uses for some of her work – “one-stroke painting,” which entails loading up a brush with two separate colors and using a single stroke to apply the paint.

Experimenting with color, at the booth next to Bessken’s, was painter Liz Almlie, who had just completed one of her canvases the night before. The newly completed work was a landscape, and it was done one color at a time, she told the Capital Journal. She was trying something new as a chance of pace from commissions she does, painting portraits of people’s houses.

Zonta Club organizer Brenda Hemmelman told the Capital Journal there were 49 vendors at 64 booths for the spring show. The $80 per booth minus the $500 in rental from Northridge Plaza, made for a rough net of $4,500 for the event. Adding in the proceeds from the fall craft show, which is bigger – 110 vendors at 130 booths last fall – makes more than $10,000 a year.

The money goes to scholarships to students and grants to local organizations. According to a news release from Zonta, the scholarships range from $400 to $800 and are given to three high school students and two Capital University Center students. The organizations given grants include Missouri Shores Domestic Violence Center, South Dakota Discovery Center, The Right Turn and Pierre Area Referral Service.

The local club, with its 24 members, is one of about 1,200 Zonta clubs in 66 countries, with a mission focused on empowering women.