By Donald Wittkowski
Someday, Julianne Mackey hopes to finish a 9-foot-by-12-foot wool rug she is meticulously sewing by hand.
“Let me put it this way, this was something I started in 1991 and I’m still working on it. It’s one of three big rugs that are on my bucket list to finish,” said Mackey, owner of the Palm Cottage North rug-hooking studio in St. Johnsbury, Vt.
The wool alone will cost thousands of dollars, not to mention all of the hours Mackey has toiled to complete the project.
But Mackey noted that the rug reflects the high level of detail and quality she puts into her handmade products. That theme was repeated by other artists and crafters who joined Mackey on Sunday at an annual show in Ocean City that touts American-made goods.
The Holiday Celebration of Fine Arts & Crafts Show, now in its 15th year, featured an array of handmade Christmas decorations, toys, rugs, jewelry, clothes, ceramics, stained glass, candles and much, much more on sale by 60 vendors inside the Ocean City Music Pier.
“It’s all-American. Everything here is made in America by the people sitting in the booths,” said Joanne Schaut, the show director.
The show also has a charitable side. In its 15 years, it has raised more than $450,000 to benefit organizations such as the Ocean City Food Cupboard, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Gilda’s Club, Schaut said.
Schaut pointed out that the show’s finely crafted goods stand in contrast to the mass-produced, foreign-made products that have flooded the U.S. market.
“The quality is much greater,” she said. “The people here love being able to buy products that are handmade and come from American artists and crafters.”
One of the vendors, Lisa Broom-Smith, was selling wooden trains, cars and other toys made by her husband, George, who has been a craftsman for 40 years.
Their business, Broom-Smith Wooden Toys of West Atlantic City, has built up a loyal following while serving multiple generations of customers, Lisa Broom-Smith said.
“We have moms who say, ‘I bought Johnny’s toy from you 20 years ago,’” she said. “Now, they’re here buying toys for the next Johnny in their family, their grandson.”
The timing of the arts and crafts show allows customers to get an early jump on their holiday shopping. Christmas-themed decorations were among the hot-selling gifts, vendors said.
Wendy Lyman and her daughter, Courtney Lyman, both of Ocean City, were selling custom-designed wreaths and Christmas novelties, including a “Santa Moon” that featured a whimsical Santa Claus face sewn onto a half moon made of cotton and fiber.
“It’s a pretty good mix that we’re getting,” Courtney Lyman said of their sales. “We have a decent amount of purchases from people who are buying gifts or are getting things for their own homes.”
Karen Reed, who moved to Ocean City in October, was attending her first Holiday Celebration of Fine Arts & Crafts Show. She strolled through the Music Pier while browsing the displays for holiday gift ideas.
“I usually don’t look at anything before Thanksgiving,” Reed said of her holiday shopping habits. “But this year is different. I’m not saying that I’m buying anything yet, but at least I’m out here looking around before the holidays arrive.”