As one of the earliest artisan fairs on the Northwest craft show circuit, Lewiston’s Art Under the Elms draws a steady flow of the country’s creative entrepreneurs each April.
Here’s a glimpse at a few of the artists coming from afar.
Woofware by Dawn Sontag, Sandy, Utah
Five years ago Dawn Sontag started on a quest for the perfect dog collar.
The mother of two grown boys was excited to welcome a female yellow lab into her family. She couldn’t wait to “make her cute” with fancy collars. Sunny the dog was her trail running partner and Sontag was soon disappointed to watch those fancy collars ruined by a single roll in the mud. She decided to create the ideal dog collar for the “fashion-forward dog” and Woofware was born.
“My poor dog, she wears all the testers,” says Sontag, in a phone interview from her Sandy, Utah, home.
Using an industrial sewing machine she began making her own high-quality collars. After noticing foreign-made buckles often broke she decided to only use U.S.-made components.
Woofware collars are machine washable and come in a rainbow of colors and fabrics, including those one might find on a prom dress. Sontag also makes and sells matching leashes.
She draws on knowledge of color from a degree in interior design. Some of her collars include ribbon she has designed herself and had manufactured.
Two years ago Sontag added Diva Dog Flowers to her collection. The handmade flowers embellish collars for fine occasions.
Prices range from $10 to $28.
Overall, the business has been so successful Sontag’s husband quit his job to help her, she says. Her sons also lend a hand.
“It’s been a great, fun family adventure. I had no idea five years ago what I was getting into. It makes people happy. I get lots of photos from people,” she says.
While she has mostly sold in local markets she’s started branching out to different shows. This will be her first time at Art Under the Elms. She says meeting the people who buy her work is her reward after 12-hour days alone at her sewing machine.
Stone Age Jewelry, James Haas, Moab, Utah
Everyone wants to look like a million dollars but how about flaunting something a million years old?
Fossils are one of the centerpieces of stone jewelry by James Haas of Moab, Utah. Haas’ pieces are one of a kind. He uses intarsia and reversible techniques to enhance the colors and textures of natural stones that are set in hand-fabricated silver to showcase their qualities.
Snooter-doots by Gina McCauley, Seattle
Snooter-doots are handcrafted, stuffed creatures with big kooky eyes. They may bear a passing resemblance to creatures in nature — vegetables, birds and fish; or they may be more alien and fantastical than anything in reality.
The art dolls are made from felted wool by Seattle artist Gina McCauley. About the size of a small soccer ball, they come with names and birthdays. Some are made from alpaca and llama fibers. They range in price from $23 and up. The most expensive are limited edition numbered dolls.
Snooter-doots are available for adoption, not for sale, says McCauley, in a phone interview from her Seattle home.
“They all have personalities. They are my babies and I would hate to think I’m selling them,” she says.
“I really enjoy what I put into them and I think that people really pick up on that.”
McCauley’s daughter came up with the Snooter-doots name 25 years ago, long before the creatures existed. Her mother always remembered her fantastical stories of imaginary creatures.
McCauley sold nearly 1,000 Snooter-doots last year. She says a community has developed of people collecting them.
“We all need a dose of whimsy these days and I feel like we’re there to offer that,” she says.
Grandles, Ernie and Carla Hoch, Chewelah, Wash.
Flickering flames seem to spout from rocks in these candles made by Ernie and Carla Hoch of Chewelah, Wash.
The name Grandle comes from a combination of granite and candle. Besides granite the Hochs use fossils, petrified wood and other stones like onyx and quartz to create functional art for display. Flames are fueled by paraffin oil in a small reservoir in the rock. Essential oil can be added for a scent. While many of their Grandles are naturally shaped, others are carved and etched with a range of designs. The reservoirs in the rocks allow them to burn for up to seven hours before more oil is needed.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Art Under the Elms
Noon to 6 p.m. Friday
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: North lawn of Lewis-Clark State College
ADMISSION: $3 for a three-day pass, $2 for seniors age 65 and older and LCSC students with ID, free younger than age 6
ONLINE: A list of all 125 artists at the festival is available at the Dogwood Festival website.