Home News Local news Handcrafted Christmas Gifts Lure Shoppers to Starving Artists Day

Handcrafted Christmas Gifts Lure Shoppers to Starving Artists Day

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Nov. 26, 2006 — As the Christmas holiday season gets into full swing, the annual Starving Artists Day gave shoppers a chance to find a unique gift for their loved ones Sunday on the grounds of the Whim Museum in Frederiksted.
Now in its 20th year, the event draws serious shoppers, according to coordinator Lily Alvarez. "In previous years I have seen clumps of people come and leave," she said. "This time there is a steady flow of people shopping, eating and moving around."
La-Verne Bates is a staple at Starving Artists, selling her sweets at the outdoor fair for at least eight consecutive years. Bates, owner of Cruzan Temptation, said her products — cakes, cookies, tarts and other sweet treats — always sell well, but for the holiday event, she comes extra-prepared.
"This is the biggest Starving Artists event of the year," she said. "I prepared double what I do for the rest of the year."
Also ready for big sales was jewelry designer Sylvia Brady, owner of Island Angels. "I need Christmas every three months," she joked, indicating that sales were good. Her angel creations are collector's items for her customers, Brady said, and every year she adds a new design.
Under a hot sun with barely a breath of breeze, unique arts and crafts were spread under tents throughout the grounds. Shoppers took advantage of whatever shade was available under the boughs of an ancient tree or a brightly colored umbrella. But the heat did not deter the holiday shoppers from acquiring new knickknacks and admiring their rare finds. The sounds of steel pan music playing traditional Christmas carols added to the Caribbean atmosphere.
There was a mixture of old and new on display. Hand-crafted arts and factory-made products vied for attention as shoppers inspected each piece. Adding to the cornucopia of items for sale were paintings, jewelry, handmade Christmas ornaments and cards, little girls' handmade dresses and madras print ensembles. Some vendors arranged their goods by piling them high on tables, while others methodically set each item individually to accentuate the uniqueness of each piece.
Author and poet Winifred "Oyoko" Loving said she visits the fair every year. Loving showed off her newly acquired pieces of jewelry — a watch and necklace that she had already put on. It was no coincidence that the pieces perfectly matched her outfit. Artisan Colette Woodson-Burgess handcrafted her watch, and Loving had nothing but praise for the jeweler.
"She makes the best jewelry," Loving said. "She adjusted my watch to fit right on the spot."
Woodson-Burgess has been making necklaces, earrings and beaded watch bands for 18 years and is a regular at the fair. Inspiration to design and craft her own earrings came from her difficulty in finding the exact style she wanted. "I decided to make my own," she said.
Clothing designer Millie Calvin shared her booth with dollmaker Sandra Michael. They both agreed the turnout was great. "They're buying," Calvin said, adding she was at the fair not only to display and sell her wares but also to network with other artists. She plans to open a craft-consignment store, Cultural Creations of the Virgin Islands, in Frederiksted and is spreading the word among her peers.
While Starving Artists Day is held three times every year, the Christmas event is the largest. The next Starving Artists Day will take place the last Sunday in March, Alvarez said.
For more information or to be a vendor, contact Lily Alvarez at 772-0598. For more information about Cultural Creations of the Virgin Islands, contact Millie Calvin at 719-6813.
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