WENATCHEE — Set afire by sunlight streaming through a window, the “fused glass” creations of Jeff and Maureen Hanson lured shoppers Saturday from every corner of the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center’s 13th annual Holiday Gift Fair.
The prism of color drew the crowd. The fun images made them smile.
“It’s bright, shiny things,” Maureen Hanson said of the appeal of the East Wenatchee couple’s glassworks. “We like things that make people smile. We’re not great artists, but we like to have fun.”
The Hansons’ company, “Glassworks,” was one of more than 100 vendors who packed the Senior Center and overflowed into Foothills Middle School next door. The event is the center’s biggest fundraiser.
Table after table of jewelry, soaps, artwork and all things knit, crocheted, carved, glued and hewed thrilled a full house of eager shoppers.
Abby Snyder of East Wenatchee saw an opportunity when Sophia Dillon, 8, and her brother Keegan Dillon, 10, looked curiously at her display of necklaces.
“Hey, you guys, see these?” Snyder said to the kids. “They’re made from paper by a lady in Uganda.”
From Snyder’s display racks hung scores of beaded necklaces made from spun poster paper. Brightly varnished, they fool the eye with a look of wood or ceramic.
Snyder’s supplier is artist Rosemary Awany of Jinja, Uganda.
Snyder’s sister met the artist and entrepreneur during a six-month stint in Uganda to work on a doctoral thesis about rural families.
Snyder, who owns her own Internet-based administrative services company, buys the unique jewelry to support Awany’s micro-business.
The two chat and have conducted business by e-mail for about two years.
“I love the uniqueness of it,” Snyder said. “It’s just not ordinary stuff.”
Gene Leonard says his creations — using the Italian art form of “intarsia” — have 400 years of history behind them.
Pieces of wood, carefully shaped and fitted together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle, form textured wall sculptures that beg to be touched — a raccoon hanging from a tree branch, a brimming cornucopia, a bucking bronco, Father Christmas.
“My wife says I make about 5 cents an hour,” Leonard, 82, joked of the days and weeks it takes him to complete a single project. “It’s one of those things that keeps me off the streets and out of the bars. It’s good therapy.”
Leonard is retired from a career with the federal government, and has traveled the world to teach government employees how to use computers.
He took up this type of woodworking in 1992 to keep busy. But the hobby has other benefits.
“I’m just so much an egotist,” he said. “People come by and tell me how nice it is, and I grow a little taller.”
Christine Pratt: 665-1173