Farmer’s market vendors dive into jewelry making with produce | Latest titles

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Carolyn R. Wilson | For Washington County News

ABINGDON, Va. — Customers are always pleasantly surprised to visit Woody and Amy Tuell’s tables at the Abingdon Farmers’ Market.

The Abingdon couple are involved in a wide variety of products that offer something for almost everyone.

With seed catalogs arriving in the mail regularly, it won’t be long before growers start planning their vegetable garden, just two blocks from Main Street in Abingdon.

The couple make good use of the town’s small space, growing hydroponic head lettuce and English cucumbers, tomatoes and onions for their Abingdon Farmers Market business, Sunshine Acres Farm.

But before the growing season arrives, Amy, 57, completes the business with jewelry making – a hobby that comes naturally for the avid artisan. Amy named her jewelry business “Sisters 3 Studio” because she is one of three sisters and she and her husband have three daughters.

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Amy has quilted in the past and even built a crib for her brother when he was expecting his first child 30 years ago.

But jewelry making has become one of her favorite hobbies. She sells her custom jewelry designs at the Winter Market from 10 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturdays in March. It will remain short when the regular market opens in April.

Two years ago, Amy wanted to extend her stay at the farmers’ market after garden produce began to run out for the season.

She started trying her hand at wire jewelry, a craft she learned years ago.

“I sold my jewelry well in the holiday and winter markets the first year,” she said.

“Then COVID-19 happened.”

Because Governor Ralph Northam’s restrictions on arts and crafts vendors weren’t lifted until July 2020, Amy lost months of business that would normally have been busy.

“Artisan businesses flourish during the tourist season, which was virtually non-existent last year,” she says.

She’s back to making jewelry and hopes the regular season will hold promise for sellers this year.

Her jewelry making has evolved into a new style since becoming a crafts salesperson.

Using polymer clay, Amy incorporates handmade beads into the wrapped jewelry.

She makes earrings, pendants, bracelets and rings, using her clay beads to embellish many of her jewellery.

“I love working with clay. There are so many ways to add clay to designs,” the artist said.

“When I work with clay, it gives me an outlet to leave the day behind and create. Sometimes I have an idea in my head, and other times I just see where the clay is taking me.

“I like a challenge and working with clay can be difficult. I try a few times before I get the right pressure to get the look I’m going for. Once I get the hang of it I do a little internal happy dance I find clay very relaxing.

Her latest clay-inspired creation embellishes 4 x 6-inch picture frames with air-dried clay – a material that doesn’t need to be baked to harden.

“I start with an unfinished wooden frame,” she explained. “I press the design using air-dry clay and fit the piece to the frame. Then I glue the moldings to the frame. Once dry, I paint the whole frame twice and apply sealer.

The artist sometimes applies a gel to give the frames an antique look.

It’s impossible to guess what you might find at their tables on your next visit.

Finding his artistic style has always been a stress reliever for the receptionist at a local home improvement store.

“It calms me down and I forget my worries. My husband says I’m a much nicer person after doing crafts,” she laughed.

Her next project is a mason jar decor made with many layers of chalk paint and gilding wax for highlights.

The jars will be available at the Abingdon Farmers Market on March 6.

Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at [email protected]

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