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Weaving her way to the Piedmont Art Festival

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Nestled in the woods of Van Wyck, Carol Leedy weaves a basket in the shop across the driveway from her home.

For nearly 30 years, the 68-year-old Ohio native has been handcrafting reed baskets – from extra-small key holders to a three-basket storage unit – with homemade black walnut stain, her own dyes and embellishments like buttons and feathers. Her prices range from $12 to $100.

“Busy hands are happy hands,” Leedy said. “It’s a stress-breaker, and it keeps me from kicking the dog. I’ve always been very crafty.”

Leedy and other handpicked artisans from the Carolinas and Georgia will gather at the Piedmont Folk Art Show from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lancaster County’s Elgin community. The show includes baskets, pottery, textiles, carvings, jewelry and paintings that reflect the region’s Southern heritage, organizers say.

Folk art is traditionally known as the art of the common people, some self-taught, who express creativity mostly as a hobby. It often reflects a culture or expression of a particular time period and is painted or created on common objects.

Leedy took a basket-weaving class nearly 30 years ago while living in Ohio. She was a night-blind friend’s ride. By the third class, Leedy was hooked. Now she teaches the art of basket-weaving that doesn’t include glue or staples.

“It was just fun,” said Leedy, a retired hairdresser. “I have a lot of patience for a short time. I can start a basket and in a few hours, I have a finished product.”

But creativity sometimes takes an unexpected turn.

“I’ve also made some fire-starters,” she said. “Sometimes baskets just don’t want to be made.”

Though no two baskets are identical in shape and color, popular baskets include a cone-shaped basket to hang on a door and a rectangular-shaped floor basket, known as a sofa or quilters’ basket, to store blankets. Baskets for the steps, nuts and shells, and gathering flowers are also bestsellers. Birdhouses and backpacks are functional. Sleighs are decorative, Leedy said.

“We wanted her in,” said Marvin Bailey, a potter who  helped organize the show. “Her baskets are hand-made. She has been real popular. People ask for her to come back.”

Leedy is in good company. She is among more than 30 Southern artists sharing their works at the show.
Other artists include Bailey, Richard Lee, Larry Wilson, William Flowers, Mike Ledford, Robert Stevens, Randy Tobias and Catawba Indian potters Cora Hedgepath and Eric Canty.

Also at the show will be Doug Bailey with handmade knives, Randall Castleberry with woodcrafts, June Robinson weaving baskets and Barbara Lynn with pine needle baskets and turned pens, Linda Kincaid with gourd art and Jackie Hicks with handmade jewelry.

Textile artisans include Ruthanne Brasington with handmade dolls, Joan Stephens with fiber art and Beth Robertson with Navajo fiber art. There will be paintings by Laddy Sartin, as well as various forms of folk art created by Kip Ramey, Horst Kuntz, Danny Maloney, Dianne Mahaffee, Sam Granger and folk art gallery Around Back at Rocky’s Place.

“It’s a good time to buy quality. It’s a good time for Christmas shopping,” Bailey. said. “Vendors come from all over. Everything is handmade.”

There will be a silent auction in the morning, ending at 1 p.m., with proceeds benefitting the Creative Beginnings Preschool of St. Luke.

For details, contact Marvin or Lynn Bailey at (803) 804-2498 or baileyspots@comporium.net.