Fairgrounds Exhibitors Focus on One-of-a-Kind Pieces
Performances, animals, a carnival and fair food round out the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, providing an atmosphere for family fun all week long, but located in the tin building just beyond the food court is another expansive room filled with treasures to discover, many of which are handmade.
Southwestern jewelry, clothing, decorative pieces and snack mixes adorn booths lining the large room, many boasting on-of-a-kind or handmade tags. Among the vendors present, retired schoolteacher Tami Rutland has set up several tables displaying unique jewelry on broad and twisted bits of wood.
“About eight years ago I just decided I’m going to make my daughters necklaces, so I started doing it,” Rutland says of her start. “My business has really grown…I’ve sold a lot to ladies in Fort Worth, ladies here have had my jewelry for a while…I’m just a home-grown girl,” she says.
Rutland sells her handmade pieces at a number of craft shows throughout Texas and Colorado throughout the year, and has also been selling at Fort Concho for roughly seven years, she said. “I do the fort and Tabor’s and that’s about all I do locally. This is the first year I’ve done the rodeo because I taught school 17 years, so I just finally retired.”
Most of Rutland’s pieces feature turquoise in various shades, and large, silver-encased pendants she purchases from another merchant. Her wares are customizable and each are made one-of-a-kind, she doesn’t duplicate.
“It’s a hobby gone wild,” she said. “I started out buying beads locally then I expanded and went to market. Now I’ve realized where you go to buy the best beads is the international show in Tucson (AZ), now I go there…every January. They have thousands of strands of beads from all over the world.”
Nestled in among other a few rows away stands Richard Castor and his family, with a diverse selection of hand-drawn wooden designs that have been cut into shape with a machine. Cutting boards, earrings, picture frames and more dress tables at his booth.
“We’ve owned it [the business] for just over five years,” Castor said. “My wife had a background in graphic design, so that’s what caused us to be interested in purchasing the business.”
The Castor’s are also rodeo first-timers, and although their products tend to center around wood, a different trend has been emerging. “Right now, I would say it’s the cell phone cases…that are most popular,” he said.
The cases are made of plastic and are created using one or multiple photos and designs to personalize them to the individual. Castor’s daughter shows hers, set on a black and grey chevron background, with three small photos overlaying the design. “They’re my nephews,” she says.
Behind Castor, on the back wall, Carroll and Glenda Ard have set up shop with an impressive display of wooden crosses and bible boxes, among other handmade items.
The couple have been visiting the rodeo for five years with their wares, and are starting to get a following. Sales are better than they were in the past, Carroll Ard said, and they do have repeat customers.
According to Ard, the most popular item is a stacked cross with cow fur embellishments and silver and gold studs. The pair work on each cross together to create the finished product.
“I get the crosses ready for her and then she embellishes them. The ones that are multiple like this,” he points out a cross made of several wooden layers of various shapes, “I put them back together after she embellishes them.”
The Ards have been making crafts since 1996, and have changed their focus as the years have progressed. “You’ve got to change when you’re doing crafts or it just goes out,” Ard says.
For more information on Tami Rutland’s jewelry, visit her website.
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