- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Instead of going to a mall or clothing store to buy that special sweater, rug or afghan, there is still a large group of people who choose to make those items themselves by hand like their ancestors once did.

They are called artisans.

Each year, artisans from all over gather some 500 strong at the Seiberling Mansion to share their talents and showcase their handwork at the Winter Woolen Workshop.

Led by Beth Notaro of Beth’s Main Street Folk Art, a number of clubs, groups and guilds, some with colorful names such as Twisters, Sisters & Misters, Granny Bees, Kokomo Sewing Guild, Knit Wits and Embroidery Guild of America set up shop at the mansion and Elliott House for some good old-fashioned handwork.

“We wanted people to be able to work with their hands,” Notaro told the Kokomo Tribune (http://bit.ly/1doThUA ), explaining the origins of the event eight years ago.

“We’re called artisans, not artists,” she said. “The difference is artisans make things people use.”

“We’ve grown tremendously over the years,” she said of the event, which benefits the Howard County Historical Society. “We first started out on the first floor of the Elliott House. Now, we have the first two floors of the mansion and Elliott House.”

The annual event features vendors, all-day workshops and demonstrations for techniques like colonial painting, punch needle, embroidery, rug hooking, spinning, weaving, hand-quilting, knitting, crocheting and more.

The two-day workshop, Notaro said, is a wonderful way for the groups to get new members and also show off what they do.

“I love the Elliott House and the Seiberling Mansion,” Notaro said. “It’s the perfect atmosphere for this event with the historical aspect.”

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Notaro always had a knack for making things with her hands.

That age-old art of hand working prompted her to open her own business and share her joy of knitting, spinning, weaving, hand-quilting and crocheting.

After retiring from Delphi, Notaro met others with the same interest and started going to classes and workshops around the area.

When the economy goes south, people tend to make more things by hand than running to a store plus it’s therapy, she said.

“Their doing something with their hands and it keep their minds off their problems,” she said.

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