- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) - It’s unanimous: After Labor Day, kitchen counters, couches and other open surfaces are no longer safe in the houses of crafty types.

Labor Day means fall is coming, which means the season for holiday bazaars is just around the bend. It’s time to create, reported The Sheridan Press (https://bit.ly/2fhVhXk).

“For me, creating something equals stress relief,” said Amber Townsend, owner of The Petaled Porch. “If I’m not creating, I feel diminished.”

Like many residents who set up shop at Sheridan’s holiday bazaars, Townsend’s creations of re-purposed furniture are a side gig to a full-time job or two. These crafty types agreed, however, that the long hours and messy houses are worth it for the joy of sharing their unique handicrafts with others.

“We can’t watch a wood piece of furniture be thrown away,” Red Shed Redos owner Terri Walton said. “We always say, ‘We can do something with that!’ And we do!”

All those redo’s add up, however, filling the house, shop and three rented storage sheds.

Seven years ago, Walton and her husband, Nick, decided to do something about the extra inventory. They hosted a holiday bazaar in their house with 20 fellow crafters. When the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office was called due to customers blocking the roadway, they decided to go bigger.

Behind the Picket Fence Vintage, Craft and Art Market has been hosted at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds ever since. The bazaar - along with a half dozen others around the county each fall - has become an outlet for hundreds of vendors who started creating for personal enjoyment but soon found their hobbies had gone a little wild.

Since college, Townsend has worked early morning to late night teaching at an online public school and Sheridan College. Several years ago, though, her mom noticed something was missing in her daughter’s busy life: her childhood creativity.

Townsend began to create again, quickly filling her garage and two-bedroom bungalow with “rugged farmhouse” furniture - and an extra dose of joy and purpose.

“You go about your normal day, you’re teaching, you’re successful, and that’s really good, but sometimes you’ve got to take a step away and be able to do those things that give you this pride and this lift of spirit,” Townsend said.

When a bazaar is approaching, Townsend pours herself into her craft, working from 9 p.m. until 1 or 2 a.m. weeknights and all day on Sunday.

Though the month of chaos and tripping over projects is tiring, it’s all worth it when she gets to see people enjoying her creativity as much as she does.

Britni Haar found her creative passion when she learned to knit and crochet in one night at college. Soon, she’d made enough hats to warm the heads of all her friends and family - and then some.

When an owl hat made for her first daughter received oodles of compliments, the idea for Brit’s Knits was born. Haar has been selling her kid’s character hats - think Minions, cupcakes and “Frozen’s” Elsa - at farmers markets and online and is now entering the world of holiday bazaars.

Currently, the yarn closet is overflowing and the backs of couches and chairs look like the Disney channel, but she is relishing the challenge. Haar fits her knitting and crocheting around her job, housework and children’s naptimes. She produces one hat per day on average and tries to have 50-60 unique pieces on hand for a sale. The hours are all worth it when she sees a little owl or Ninja Turtle walking down the street in one of her hats.

For Jennifer Rizer’s husband, Kevin, the approach of holiday bazaar season means he gets to be the most aromatic man in town.

Rizer makes soaps, lotions and candles - and has even created her own facial line - for her home-based business Croi Alainn, Celtic for “Beautiful Heart.” Her husband, more likely known for his role as a football coach at Sheridan High School, is her test subject for every product, including all the feminine scents. Because his arms become a buffet of smells, customers can take home a variety of products boiled and blended to bring a little bit of Ireland to Wyoming.

Rizer makes products for a bazaar as close to the date of the bazaar as possible since her products have a shelf life. Her kitchen counters disappear, but her creativity can go crazy. She aims for 10-12 soaps and lotions per scent and five of each size of candle. Rizer will host her second home-based holiday bazaar this year.

Sonny Buskirk, owner of Junkyard Flips, has dealt with junk as the owner of a state-registered wrecking yard since 1969. After retiring, however, he began to see usefulness in the items he couldn’t refurbish or sell - his most junky of junk. Dented and rusted became desirable when turned into one-of-a-kind benches and tables made of old car parts.

When his daughter Terri Walton, owner of Red Shed Redos, began hosting bazaars, she roped her dad into sharing his more manly wares.

Three months before a bazaar, Buskirk spends all day almost every day in his junkyard and garage welding and perfecting his creations. Tailgates, hoods, springs, grills and crankshafts become a spread of furniture pieces that honor the preferences of Dodge, Chevy, Ford and Jeep lovers alike.

“If you can’t drive it, sit on it,” Buskirk said. “The more dents and rust the better.”


Information from: The Sheridan (Wyo.) Press, https://www.thesheridanpress.com/

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