Loom-woven table runner by Gloria Oldenburg
Loom-woven table runner by Gloria Oldenburg (York Town Craft Guild photo)
Retail stores are far from the only option for early Christmas shopping.

The York Town Craft Guild is hosting its annual Christmas at the Guild Show now through Sunday. Works by 50 local and regional artisans and craftspeople went on sale Thursday.

Guild President Bonnie Lenkner says the selection ranges from “traditional things like fraktur to contemporary jewelry. ... There are crochet items, paper stars that the early Germans made. ... Anything you buy is gift-appropriate, all handmade, all unique.”

Weaver Gloria Oldenburg had dropped off her items over the weekend. Not only does she sell her hand-woven chenille scarves, table runners and handbags at the Christmas show, but she also shops for gifts as well.

“I saw some of the things people had brought in and thought, ‘ooh, this looks good,'” Oldenburg says. Some of her favorites were “wood-turned things (by artist Don Wilson) and someone new had handcrafted candle stands and piecrust tables.”

Taste: Whether people are attracted to traditional or contemporary items is a matter of individual taste, Lenkner says. With items priced from $1 to $200, there are options in either category.

“I hope it's a big year for both. The recession has hit hard and it has hit hard for artisans, too,” Lenkner says. Many of the Guild members work full time at their craft.

The show also features a Christmas Shoppe, a gallery of paintings for sale provided by the York Art Association and an Attic Treasures room.

“Attic treasures are vintage items that our members want to sell. Higher quality (items) than yard sale, nothing that the artisans make themselves: older jewelry, magazines, clocks, (a) wide variety,” Lenkner says.

A mission: For Lenkner, the Christmas show is an opportunity to support both the artisans and the mission of the Guild.
Wheel-thrown pottery pitchery by Nancy Gallagher
Wheel-thrown pottery pitchery by Nancy Gallagher (York Town Craft Guild photo)

“Our show is a little bit different. We do not sell booths. People drop off inventory (and) then we set up. There's one checkout,” Lenkner says. “It's less of an investment for artisans. We're here to promote artisans. We get a small commission; that's how we meet our operating expenses.”

The guild is proud to be different from other local art organizations. “(We do) three-dimensional heritage art and contemporary handcrafts. Our mission is to keep that alive in York County,” Lenkner says. “We teach workshops, promote artisans.”

Preserving history is only one piece of that mission. Lenkner believes there is a future benefit to keeping the handcrafted traditions alive in York County.

“Handcrafts for both adults and children increase math and language skills. Handcrafts increase self-esteem. These things are documented,” she says.

Lenkner says she hopes to offer more classes for children, particularly at the middle school level.

“They used to have woodshop, but everybody got scared 'cause of insurance,” she says. “Young people, this is the time that they can learn, they can know they can work with their hands. There are companies willing to teach you for a job, but people don't have confidence.”

Lenkner is trying to reach “groups of people who have not had the opportunity,” she says. “That's why I spend the time.
Woodturned Bradford pear by Don Wilson
Woodturned Bradford pear by Don Wilson (York Town Craft Guild photo)
It's good for York County, good for tourism.”

A beginning: Oldenburg, a guild member since 1980, benefited from the guild's outreach, learning to weave by taking guild classes and reading so many weaving books borrowed from Martin Library that her husband would ask her if she was studying for a test.

“My parents wove during the Great Depression, braid rugs. My father had lost his job. My sister and I would wind balls of rags, sometimes we could push the treadle...(later) my mother was visiting me and I asked what happened to that loom,” Oldenburg shares. “It was borrowed from an uncle in Michigan, so I called him up and asked if I could buy this loom, which I did. The same week, (there was) an article on the York Town Guild offering weaving classes — so I took them.”

Oldenburg, a former guild president herself, respects Lenkner's efforts to strengthen the local chapter.

“The craft guild has always been a wonderful group of people,” Oldenburg says. “Bonnie Lenkner and her husband are great assets to the guild, building it again and getting people involved.”

Holiday craft shows

Christmas and Hanukkah shoppers already on the hunt for the best gifts have plenty of options at local shows featuring items by York County crafters and other hand-made pieces:

Christmas at the Guild Show: Noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the York Town Craft Guild, Friendship Fire House, 639 N. Franklin St., Spring Garden Township. Admission is free. Information: 845-3206 or www.ytcg.org.

Grandma's Holiday Craft Show: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays now until Dec. 8 at the Red Lion Bed and Breakfast, 101 S. Franklin St., Red Lion. Special hours on Thanksgiving Day. Information: 244-4739 or www.grandmasholidaycrafts.com.

Christmas in York: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the York Expo Center's Old Main Building, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township. Admission is $5 for adults and free for ages 12 and under. Information: 848-2596 or www.pagardenshowofyork.com.

Festival of Trees: Noon to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Historical Society Museum, 250 E. Market St., York. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under. The Festival of Foods and Auction begins at 5 p.m. Monday; admission is $18. Information: 854-9504 or www.yccchurches.org.

Ten Thousand Villages Holiday Festival: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in the Iosue Student Union at York College, 441 Country Club Road, Spring Garden Township. The items are handcrafted fair-market trade from artisans in other countries. Information: 815-1916 or www.ycp.edu.

Christmas in Loganville: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at 17 locations in Loganville, Jacobus and Seven Valleys. Look for event flags. Information: www.christmastimeinloganville.com.

Chanukah Holiday Boutique: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, at Temple Beth Israel, 2090 Hollywood Drive, York Township. Admission and gift wrapping are free. Information: 843-2676 or www.tbiyork.org.

— Reach Michelle Denise Norton at news@yorkdispatch.com.