Blazing A New Trail: Penultimate crafts festival enjoyable in White Rock

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By Bennett Horne

I like the word “penultimate.” It’s actually one of my favorite words because it’s not too big and is a fun word to say.

And it has a meaning that makes perfect sense, not one you have to go fishing for a reason to understand it with wrinkled brow after you’ve heard it used in a sentence.

It simply means next to the last.

It’s a good word, kind of a blue-collar type, one that can be used to “dress up” a sentence without making it look too pretentious.

Like I said, just a fun word to use.

Still, there are some sad connotations in which the word “penultimate” can be used. Saturday was one of them.

Saturday I attended the penultimate date of the first-Saturday-of-the-month arts and crafts festival at the White Rock Visitors Center. The final date is Sept. 1.

It’s sad because of all the fun I had at the next-to-the-last event in White Rock.

Even though there were less than 10 tents set up with artisans showing and selling their wares on the grass at the Visitors Center, the ones in attendance were very friendly and enjoyed talking about their crafts to potential customers whether they walked away with a purchase or not.

I enjoy listening to creative people talk about the crafts they produce, how they derive their inspiration and the processes in which they produces their work.

Some of the conversation reminds me of small projects I might have attempted years ago; some of it inspires me to try a new project - not as another source of income, mind you, but just as a way to perhaps start a new hobby or spend a few quiet moments in a relaxing pastime.

I spent some time looking at creations in glass that Bonnie Bray had produced in her Santa Fe studio. The items were exquisite on their own, but when held up to the sun they seemed to take on an added dimension, transforming into glowing colors that took the piece to a new level of enjoyment.

Cathy Bennett is an artist and jewelry designer from Santa Fe. She had on display many earrings she had designed and created, but the pair that caught my eye used a plastic, glow-in-the-dark, two-inch-long centipede.

It was very interesting, something that would make a perfect addition to any Halloween ensemble.

And the painting technique she used on some of her tile pieces reminded me of an art project I did many years ago that still evokes fond memories.

I put drops of paint on a sheet of construction paper and moved the drops around the paper by blowing air through a straw. That was so simple, yet a lot of fun and it made for some unusual finished pieces.

One artist crafted bowls out of pine needles – some of the bowls used thousands of needles – while a married couple mined various minerals from the region, polished them up and made beautiful jewelry out of the finished stones.

And then there was the artist from Española who made lotions of varying fragrances in the comfort of her home. While the lotions were attractive enough to display in a dish in perhaps a bathroom, they were very functional.

When I told her they looked like candy and good enough to eat, she informed me because of the natural ingredients she used you could actually eat them and not cause any harm to your body.

We have some very talented people in our area – and friendly, too. Even though my purchases that day were very minimal, each artist was eager to discuss their work with me, which made the penultimate festival in the series all the more enjoyable.