Holiday cheer was abundant at the Pocahontas County Opera House annual Holiday Craft Show Friday evening as parade-goers and holiday shoppers perused more than 30 crafters’ tables topped with jewelry, knitting, pottery, primitive décor and more in search of gifts.
Displays of handmade Christmas décor – wreaths made from pine branches, ornaments, snowmen and more – dotted the Opera House floor.
Marlinton-transplant Susan Gauntt’s ornaments draw inspiration from nature.
“These are made of out of pine cone scales,” the retired art teacher explained, indicating her display of adorned and unadorned ornaments. “You can either leave them plain and let someone else decorate them, or you can decorate them using whatever you can find – berries, nuts, or seeds. I decorate with tiny acorns, beech nuts, and whatever other seed pods I can find while I’m walking the [Greenbrier River] Trail.
“I’ve only been here for two and a half years, so I look for all of my supplies at state parks, along the trail, and over at Sherwood Lake. I know I can get acorns and pine cones on the trail, as well as at Sherwood Lake. They’re all over the little island in the middle. The rest is gathering whatever seeds you see when you’re out and about.”
When it comes to the seed pods, Gaunt waits for them to dry before adding them to her ornaments.
“Some dry better than others,” she said. “Winterberry makes a very nice berry. It keeps its red, and it dries hard rather than rotting like a barberry would. Rose hips are nice, but I’ve learned that they tend to turn black after a year or two, so I don’t use those anymore.”
To make her ornaments, Gauntt works off of the lid of a margarine bowl. Once the pine cones are disassembled, she glues the scales together in a ring on one side of the lid. She then turns the lid over and repeats the process.
“I don’t try and gather all the supplies I need for one ornament,” she added. “I tear up a whole bunch of pine cones, then I start making a whole bunch of rings, and then I flip them over and make even more rings. After that process is finished is when I start decorating.”
In addition to her pine cone ornaments, Gauntt makes miniature woodland creatures using the fruit of sweet gum trees for the bodies and acorns for the heads. To transform the figurines into winter décor, Gauntt adorns the creatures with little scarves made from yarn, attaches craft – or popsicle – sticks like skis to the base of the sweet gumballs and places the figurines on a little snowscape made from styrofoam plates.
“My sixth graders used to make the skiers,” she explained, “and the wreaths were made by my eighth graders. I collected the supplies, and then we made them together. This is something I’ve been doing for twenty, thirty years.”
A newcomer to the crafting scene, Maxine Paulman manned a charming table of handmade snowmen and women adorned with tiny, handmade gloves, hats and scarves – each figurine nestled in a decorative winter wonderland. Made in a little over a month, the idea first came to Paulman while lying in bed one night.
“I got up the very next morning and started making them,” she said, “This was my first time, and I used wool and a variety of other materials to make everything that you see here. I picked out the material, cut out each shape and sewed them together.”
Handmade goods were not the only items available at the craft show.
Situated between customizable jewelry and scented goods, members of the Pocahontas County High School Future Business Leaders of America club sold a variety of pecans – plain and flavored.
“We’re selling pecans for Future Business Leaders of America to help send us to Charleston to compete in a business competition,” senior and club president Samantha Collins explained. “It’s a two day trip, and we’re hoping to raise enough money to go down a day earlier and go out to eat somewhere nice.”
Along with Vice President Austin Ervine and member Katie Buzzard, Collins sold bags of caramel clusters, cinnamon pecans, dark and milk chocolate pecans, and glazed pecans, as well as whole and halved pecans.
The FBLA state conference will take place in Charleston on April 11 and 12. Following States, Collins and her fellow club members hope to advance to compete in Nationals.
“Nationals are in Atlanta, Georgia this year,” she explained. “In addition to raising money for the conference in April, we’re hoping to raise enough money to send us to Nationals if we place at States.”
The Holiday Craft Show at the Pocahontas Opera House has long been a part of the kick off to the Christmas season in the county.