I grew up with Piedmont Craftsmen. My mother, Linda Willard, is a former exhibiting member for her stitchery. She wasn’t one of the founding members, but she was admitted with the 2nd group of artists. Every year in November, we devoted an entire weekend to the fair. She had her booth which she set up to look like a comfy sitting room or den, the perfect environment to show off her embroidered works–decorative pillows, mostly, and the occasional wall hanging. She sat in her chair with the big, oval, stand-up embroidery hoop in front of her, where she basically painted beautiful pictures with woolly yarn and thread. Variegated colors of yarn created shading in flowers and leaves; different kinds of stitches added texture to various design elements. And it all came together to create a softly beautiful picture of graceful flowers, leaves, insects,and birds.
I was old enough to come along as a helper–it meant I could get free admission to the fair using one of her allotted volunteer passes. I don’t recall how much I really helped, other than to watch the booth whenever she wanted to take a break.
But I loved roaming around looking at all the fine, imaginative crafts on display, and buying something every year to add to my own collection of fine, handcrafted items– colorful pottery, clay animal-shaped pins, stuffed animals, and the occasional “splurge” for a hand-woven pillow or wearable. And I guess I inhaled enough creative energy from it all, storing it up inside me until I was ready to unleash it in my adult life.
My mother’s craft was a labor of love–tedious and time-consuming. As time went on, it became more important for her to engage in more profitable activities which included selling real estate. And with arthritis settling into her hands and thus interfering with her ability to manipulate a needle and thread, stitchery has been relegated to the archives of her life.
With her 80th birthday barely 3 weeks away, she now channels her creative energy into making and refurbishing dollhouses. But that’s another story entirely.
In the meantime, it’s well worth your time to visit the upcoming49th Annual Piedmont Craftsmen’s Fair
The Fair, which was recently named one of the 10 best fine craft shows in the country by American Style magazine, presents a broad sampling of the finest work available in artist-designed handmade home goods, wearables, jewelry, furniture and decorative items.
It is the keystone event in “6 Days in November,” a week-long celebration of art and culture in Winston-Salem, known as The City of Arts and Innovation.
The Fair is at the Benton Convention Center, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from Trade Street, occupying the block from 5th to 6th street, bounded by Cherry and Marshall Streets.