Anxious to increase sales and put their sworn craftsmanship back into the hands of customers, the Reading-Berks Craft Guild will present the Mega Spring Juried Craft Show on the first Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Renninger Farmer’s Market, 740 Noble St., Kutztown.
Visitors can browse over 33 handsome, expert craftsmen set up outside, under the pavilion in 15-foot-wide stalls (instead of the usual 10-foot spaces). There will be social distancing and masks are needed.
A long-awaited return to normalcy, the show will feature fresh flowers, antiques, food vendors and a children’s event.
“It has been a job, and I appreciate the cooperation of our artisans,” said Barry Bennecoff of The country carpenter, an accomplished builder of wood furniture and a longtime chairman of the Guild.
“Even the artists who turned to online sales achieved one-eighth of their regular annual activity,” said Lisa Court from North Wales, County Montgomery, in a recent Zoom interview with other Guild members.
“Young people understand the world of DIY; they want to buy crafts, ”said Short, whose specialty is Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art and Fraktur, which are artistic manuscripts created between 1740 and 1850 and featuring hearts, tulips and birds.
A guild member for 14 years, Short is a graphic designer for the guild and has noted how eagerly she looks forward to the May 1 show.
“I work better under pressure; my production really grows when I have a show, ”she said.
“I’ve always loved the art of the Pennsylvania Germans and American folk art,” said Short. “Fraktur has the best of both worlds. The Fraktur that I like to reproduce comes mainly from original references. I like the naivety and the simple charm of the pieces I create.”
Short is self-taught and also painted in the decorative style of the Pennsylvania Germans, using grain paint and decorative techniques.
Steve Hunter from Hunter sandstone has been creating stoneware pottery since 1976. Its practical oven-baked pieces – pitchers, jugs, dishes and cups – are intended for use and are dishwasher and microwave safe.
“I want people to microwave their coffee in my cups,” said Hunter, a 12-year Guild member who chairs the Guild shows.
Hunter, a retired art teacher, said he had only used 600 pounds of clay in total this year, a fraction of what he normally experiences. Although he did custom work and held an open house, he has “boxes and boxes of unsold items”.
Of course, stopping the pandemic has inspired some artists to do new things, said Kay Bennecoff, secretary of the Guild, who noted the attractive variety of artisans at the Spring Show.
“Everyone’s inventory must be good and fresh,” agreed Short.
Sworn crafts will include: pottery, stoneware, red pottery, decorative pottery, Fraktur, wheat weaving, turnings, wooden spoons and bowls, living benches, hand-woven clothing and fibers, calligraphy, fine jewelry, beads, polymer clay , primitive country and furniture, woodworking, baskets, photography, children’s books, quilting art, folk art sculptures, crocheted rugs, star crafts, broom making, penny rugs, hand woven rugs, soaps and lotions.
“People have all their shots and feel safe having them in Kutztown,” Kay Bennecoff said.
“It fits the bill,” Hunter said of the Renninger Lodge, with its socially distant setup, solid ground and ample parking.
For more information visit rbcrafts.org.