Merced County Times Newspaper
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Artisan gift market lures holiday shoppers to MAC


Made By Hand Gift Market, consisting of 18 vendors, attracted a crowd of holiday shoppers to the Merced Multicultural Arts Center at 645 W. Main Street in Merced on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Bill Gossett Pottery was one of the vendors. Gossett teaches Art at Yosemite High School, and he teaches Pottery at Merced College.

Gossett brought his 9-year-old son, Hunter Gossett, because Hunter has his own business, Jewelry by Hunter!

Hunter’s pottery designs included leaves and shells because of his love of nature, and soccer balls because of his love of sports.

According to family members, Hunter creates his own designs by drawing them or making molds, he picks his own glazes, and he runs his business by paying for his own supplies and then putting one-third of his profits back into the business.

He spends some of his profits on things he wants, such as a new fishing pole.

Hunter Gossett told the Times, “I sold a lot of things at the show.”

When Hunter shows his handmade items, he takes the opportunity to interact with other artists and see what they are making.

He also likes to trade. He traded a necklace with a silver-plated chain for soap from another vendor at the show, Conteda Soap Works.

Mary Guidone, owner of Oh! MG Crafts, told the Times, “This is our first year in business. We got the idea this time last year.”

The business takes vintage children’s books, California textbooks, maps, Golden Guides, postage stamps, sheet music and dictionary pages and re-purposes them into jewelry items such as button pins, as well as magnets and key chains.

Guidone said, “I use the images by glueing a glass bead onto the picture or map with glass glue.  I let it dry for 24 hours, trim it and put a clear plastic back on it because the paper is very thin.

“Most of the paper items we got from a book sale in Oakdale. A man passed away, and he had two warehouses and his widow didn’t know what to do with the contents.

“People are looking for a unique key chain, and they can find a key chain with a map of their home town.  We do a lot of Merced magnets and key chains.

Hooked On Cactus, owned by Valerie Edrington, was another interesting vendor.

Edrington told the Times, “I’ve been propagating my own plants — succulents and cacti — for 10 years, and I specialize in creating driftwood planters.

“I do well at shows because it’s really unique.

“I have a Facebook page for Hooked On Cactus which tells where I’m going to be.”

At the show, Donna Grove of Atwater was knitting, a hobby she said she enjoys while she and her husband are traveling. Simply Donna, her business, displayed handmade scarves, hats, gloves and mittens.

Yorgos Leftheriotis, who is from Greece, owns Yorgos’ Woodworks. He specializes in handmade wooden toys made from high quality wood such as walnut, cherry, oak and poplar.

He uses acrylic paint, which is non-toxic and thus safe for children.

Leftheriotis learned the art of wood carving from his grandfather.

With his wife, Antonea, he travels from Fresno all over California to shows.

Kerry Brooke, a ceramic artist, has been in business for 13 years as a sideline. Her full-time job is working at Bella Luna in Merced. After work, she is a studio potter, creating utilitarian stoneware and some raku-fired pottery. Some of the items she sells are bowls, dinnerware, and mugs. She teaches at Chartreuse Muse Gallery and Art School in Modesto on Mondays and at Merced College for the Community Services Department on Thursday nights.

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