Saturday, March 15, 2003

Artisans arrive

Here's a look at three who will treat your senses in Sharonville this weekend

The Cincinnati Enquirer

An artful treat for the senses, the spring Greater Cincinnati Folk Art & Craft Show presents more than 110 artisans and craftsmen this weekend at the Sharonville Convention Center.

The semi-annual show, which opened Friday, will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Here's a sampling of this show's artisans.

Katherine Denby


Searching for the perfect floor cloth for her kitchen, Katherine Denby could not find the color or design she had in mind. With a friend's help, she decided to try making one. This creation turned into many gifts, which led to a commercial venture.

A decade later, Denby, who has Denby Studios in Versailles, Ky., still is painting floor cloths.

The history of the floor cloth dates to the time of our forefathers. Also referred to as a "crumb catcher" or drugee, early floor cloths were made from deteriorated sails of ships and other materials, such as burlap. Many had geometric or nautical themes.

In the United States, the floor cloth was a way to imitate very elaborate and costly European floor cloths. George Washington owned a floor cloth in Philadelphia that he bought for $14. Today, that floor cloth would be priceless.

What: Greater Cincinnati Folk Art & Craft Show
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sharonville Convention Center
Cost: $6, children under 12 free. Admission is valid for all show days. Parking is free and shuttle service is available.
Information: 771-7744
It has been the great discovery of contractors to find century-old floor cloth nailed to the floor under linoleum they are removing. Even scraps of old floor cloths are being recycled into table runners and place mats.

This traditional craft was commercialized by the English and marketed as a way to protect Oriental rugs. Placed over the rug, the summer floor cloth was constructed and painted to change the look of the room.

For more than 300 years, the floor cloth was popular - until the introduction of linoleum. Floor cloths have returned to popularity, especially the past 10 years, with the preservation of traditional crafts and styles in homes.

Denby has painted some reproduction pieces for the commonwealth of Kentucky that can be found in several historic homes. Denby's floor cloths combine traditional themes with contemporary designs.

"The beauty of a floor cloth is that the design and colors are always vivid. It is the most durable area rug you can have in home," she says. Denby's rugs range from 2 by 3 feet to 12 by 15 feet, costing $18 to $175 per square foot.

Carole Robb


"The Midwest loves boxes!" says Carole Robb.

Since 1984, the Wisconsin resident has been stenciling Shaker boxes made from pine and birch, constructed especially for her work by her brother. She stencils more than 100 box designs - floral, fruit and traditional Americana patterns. Robb can stencil between three and 20 boxes of one kind at a time, depending on the design's detail.

Her boxes range from $15 to $160.

Kevin Frazee


As a child, Kevin Frazee spent his summers with his grandparents in Spring Mountain, Ohio, population 20. With imagination, carpentry and a long line of German cabinet makers in Frazee's heritage, he was destined to create the unusual.

"Wood and pounding nails have always been a part of my life," he says.

When Frazee's wife, Mary, began to collect arks, it seemed only fitting for him to build her one. His children inspired him further, suggesting that he build an ark that flies.

Frazee, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, thus began to build a variety of wooden arks with unique features, turning them into flying machines with mechanical pieces, lamps, clocks, tables, chairs, clocks, pull toys and more. He named his company for his grandparents' small town: Spring Mountain Art & Toys. Although hand-carved animals walking two-by-two are in each Frazee ark, no two arks are alike.

"Noah's ark is a biblical story that everyone knows," Frazee says. " I have taken this famous story and added a twist of fantasy."

Frazee's arks range from $150 to $1,500.

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