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Originality distinguishes items sold by artists at Victorian Faire

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Saved from the trash bin, dozens of wine corks used to collect dust inside a giant bowl in her parents’ living room for years, Michelle E. Oullette said.

At least until Ms. Oullette, a vendor at the annual Victorian Faire held Friday and Saturday, came up with a better idea.

On Saturday at the Jefferson County Historical Society, Ms. Oullette sold a miscellany of key chains that were created by combining those corks with leftover jewelry she’d stashed away in a drawer over the years. Priced at $5 apiece, the key chains with glitzy beads showcased little medallions with hearts, high-heeled shoes and butterflies.

“They had a wine tasting here Friday night, and I made them give me the corks” for her hobby, said the industrious 45-year-old from Henderson.

Originality was a characteristic shared by the vendors, who explained how they invested hours of work to make the creations they had for sale.

Filled with soil and plants, clay pottery on sale was shaped dexterously by the hands of Kari Z. Robertson, 52, a former art teacher in the Carthage Central School District. Her inspiration for the pottery, made in a studio at her Rutland Center home, usually starts with a pencil, paper and a brain flowing with creative energy.

“I wake up in the morning and draw — sometimes it can be doodling,” the artist said. “All of my pottery is original.”

As an example, Ms. Robertson pointed to a large, multi-layered pot that held a handful of plants. The curvy piece was made using leftover clay scraps from a different project, she said, and it had to be fired in a kiln multiple times at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees.

“When I taught art, I used to always tell my students to pay attention to the scrap,” she said. “I wanted a very convoluted shape for this piece. Art on walls is beautiful, but I think it’s nice to create something that can be used — whether it’s coffee or plants.”

Wooden picture frames with old advertisements for films, cigarettes and Coca-Cola were sold by Edward F. Martelle, who has been a vendor at the fair for five years. In 2002, the Henderson man designed and built a solar kiln outside his barn, which he uses to dry wooden boards before they’re cut into picture frames.

The 300-square-foot kiln captures the sun’s rays through its ceiling made of picture glass; its walls are covered with black tar paper.

“I’ve had it get up to 135 degrees in there,” the 66-year-old said.“Oak takes about six months to dry, but with pine I can do it in 30 days.”

Event sponsors included the Northern New York Community Foundation, Slack Chemical Co. of Carthage, Walker Associates and Purcell Construction.

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