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More than 75 artisans exhibit at Greenbelt art fair

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Photo by Wanda Jackson. Talia Melcer, left, and Christie Otvos of “Tilted Tops” model two of their millinery creations.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. Talia Melcer, left, and Christie Otvos of “Tilted Tops” model two of their millinery creations.

Published on: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

By Wanda Jackson

More than 75 artists participated in this year’s Greenbelt 2012 Festival of Lights Juried Art and Craft Fair. The two-day event took place earlier this month at the Greenbelt Community Center.

“Over a quarter of the artists participated for the first time,” stated its sponsor, the Greenbelt recreation department.

The artists showed off an astounding variety of “hand-made wares including fine art, glass, wood, ceramics, photography and fiber arts as well as toys, soaps, skin care products, jewelry and accessories, and publications by local authors.”

The artists — some established, others still experimental — expressed themselves boldly and surprised visitors with whimsical and functional creations.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. At the Maryland Writer's Association booth, authors Alix Moore and Larry Matthews share their insights about writing.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. At the Maryland Writer's Association booth, authors Alix Moore and Larry Matthews share their insights about writing.

Talcia Melcer and Christic Otvos showed off “whimsical hand-crafted millinery creations and accessories.” For more than three years, the two friends have created costumes, accessories and hats for the stage in their own productions under the moniker of Tilted Torch. Their unique ability to combine colors, material and textures is now a wearable arts business, “Tilted Tops.” Their skills in French flower making and feather flowers make their cuffs and hats stand above the crowd. Their creations easily guarantee proper attire for social gatherings in the afternoon at which tea, cakes and other light refreshments will be served.

Cheryl Paret of ShoshMo Designs displayed her quilts, rugs and other fabric creations. Her 50-by-63-inch lap quilt, priced at $150, features Log Cabin patterns, which are considered the quintessential American design. The quilt has interconnecting L-shaped yellow and blue-themed print fabric pieced around a center square, reminiscent of log cabins on the prairie with center squares for the hearth. The entire quilt is topstitched with white thread.

At the Maryland Writers’ Association booth, first-time author Alix Moore and veteran-broadcast-journalist-turned-writer Larry Matthews gave visitors snapshots of their books.

Moore’s first book is “Tapping the Well Within — Writing from your Source of Effortless Creativity, Deep Wisdom and Utter Joy.” In the book, Moore, a self-described “joy writer,” shares her views about living and writing in a world of peace and joy with children and adults.

Matthews has authored six books, including two thrillers with central character Dave Haggard, a broadcast street reporter in Washington. In “Butterfly Knife,” Haggard finds himself at the center of the hunt for a serial killer. He’s not the reporter, he’s the bait. Matthews second book is “Brass Knuckles,” a tale of assassination and greed. 

Across the aisle, Greenbelt Writer’s Group member and award-winning author Amy Hansen writes science books for young readers.

“Good non-fiction paints a picture, provides cool information and invites readers to be detectives in their own world,” Hansen said.

In “Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter,” which is ideally suited for 4 to 8 year olds, Hansen worked with illustrator Robert Kray to create an informative picture book that explains “the frosty fate of numerous well-known insects.”

New York-based artist Kathye Edwina Arrington exhibited her hand-painted mudcloth pillows, handbags, quilts, clothing and frameable fabric paintings.

Similar to techniques used by the Mali culture and Korhogo of the Ivory Coast in Africa, Arrington uses “flat bamboo sticks to paint with mud.” The mud is fermented — collected, placed in a clay pot, covered with water and left to sit — for a year.

Since 1994, Arrington has collected soil samples from “different areas of the United States and Canada, Brazil, Italy Ireland, the Dead Sea, Ethiopia and Ecuador to create natural color variation.” Creating a painting can take several weeks of slow and painstaking work.

Arrington’s items feature animals, African symbols as well as figurative works of children.

Jewelry artist Wendy Hurlock Baker took a “green approach” to produce a variety of eclectic designs. One of her necklaces featured marble-sized felt and wooden beads. Another featured pieces of fabric that she had crocheted and mixed with tiny luminiscent beads. Other designs featured found objects like keys and buttons.

The Festival of Lights Juried Art and Craft Fair is an annual Greenbelt event. To view a list of art and craft fair exhibitors and to find out more about 2012 and 2013 arts programs sponsored by the Greenbelt recreation department, visit

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