Patrons perused booths of all things shabby-chic, including spreads of curated antique finds and artisans with their crafts, at the Farm Chicks annual Vintage & Handmade Fair at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center this weekend.
The fair has been operating annually since 2002. From humble beginnings in a barn, the event now boasts hundreds of vendors and draws in swaths of customers.
In one of the booths, seated at her spinning wheel was Juaquetta Holcomb, of Garden Party Fibers, skillfully turning sheep and alpaca wool into colorful threads of yarn.
Holcomb has been spinning her own yarn for more than 30 years, and has converted a floor of her home to the extensive process of cleaning, dyeing and spinning wool. It’s a full-time job.
The result is an impressive and varied selection of colors and textures in her fibers, some of which she crochets into all manner of one-of-a-kind clothing.
“Each one tells its own story,” she said.
Holcomb locally sources her materials. She’s met a few of the sheep whose wool she spins.
“This one,” she said, gesturing to an off-white skein of yarn, “I call ‘Tweeds’ because it came from my daughter’s sheep, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.”
Colors vary from the natural hue of the wool to neon spun with strands of glitter. Holcomb often experiments with organic materials to dye. Dandelion flowers turn the wool a soft yellow, while walnut shells produce browns and indigo flowers give off a deep purple.
Across the fair, another booth emitted an aroma that lured in unsuspecting shoppers. It’s the smell of Tori Bailey’s handmade candles and bath products at Bungalow Craftworks.
Bailey, a former speech language pathologist turned stay-at-home mom, turned candle peddler, was fed up with store-bought candles, so she took the wax into her own hands.
“I was bored and hated that other candles didn’t smell,” she said.
She’s now been in the candle-making business for 20 years and is proud of her selection of fragrant products, including cabernet, basil and sage. She can’t pick a favorite.
“Would you ask a mother for her favorite child?” she said.
Shelly Lane at Flanagan and Lane Antiques is newer to her craft. Though she has long been an antique dealer and appraiser, she hatched an idea while planning a tea party that the pandemic kept delaying.
Their booth stands out from other antique dealers with dozens of unique, three-tiered cake trays fashioned out of antique plates with delicate designs of florals, cherubs and fruits. Lane makes the stands herself, finding satisfaction in the hunt for complementing designs.
“It’s kind of like a monster that I have to keep feeding, but they sell well, people love them and I have fun doing them,” Lane said. “I like the artistic part of it.”
Lane scours thrift stores in search of plates, storing them in boxes organized by finish, pattern and size. She has over a thousand plates in storage, waiting for partners to create a trio. She matches designs as close as she can, but none of the plates are exact matches.
“To wait to put a set together, I might find something that I can do right away, or I’ve had pairs that wait for years for the third one,” Lane said.