Crafters from across Southeast line streets for Aiken's Makin'

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Marie Jackson doesn’t go to Aiken’s Makin’ every year, but she does attend often.

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Vicki Evans, with Hillbilly Cafe, takes food orders during Aiken's Makin'.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Vicki Evans, with Hillbilly Cafe, takes food orders during Aiken's Makin'.

Now that her son is a freshman at Clemson, she was on the lookout Saturday for all things Tiger orange. But this year, more than looking at the handmade wares, Jackson really enjoyed talking to the vendors.

“It’s been really interesting to see who’s come from where,” she said. “I’ve had more fun just talking to people today.”

The vendors, offering such things as handmade soaps, jewelry, homemade candles and artwork, came from all over to participate in the 36th annual craft fair.

Anthony Carter brought his display of birdhouses from his home in Knoxville, Tenn. Some have roofs made of old license plates, with perches made from old drawer pulls to golf balls.

One was decorated with a rearview mirror and an old dial car radio.

Carter sells his Junk-A-New Birdhouses primarily at arts festivals such as Aiken’s Makin’ – and next week’s Arts in the Heart of Augusta.

“Take a guess what you think it is,” he told a customer as he pointed to an object that adorned the front of a three-story birdhouse. The object was ornate on the left side and had two large rings on the right.

“It was a fancy dog bowl holder,” he told the customer, who was stumped. “And now it’s on a birdhouse.”

That’s the part of craft festivals Carter loves most.

“I love the interaction with the people. I love their responses when they see my houses,” he said.

Aaron and Ann Kay, of Hartwell, Ga., haul their handmade garden art to about 16 craft shows each year.

They work together to create Kay’s Whimsical Creatures. In their combined imaginations, pipe wrenches become grasshoppers, flamingoes have kettles for torsoes, and pigs are made of empty propane tanks with shovel faces.

“She does all the painting and I do all the welding,” Aaron Kay said.

Terry and Premy Koonk­hunted learned her family’s business in Thailand, brought it to the U.S. and turned it into their own craft business.

In their booth, Unique Coconut, coconuts are made into animals and palm trees.

They’ve been creating the lamps for five years, but this was their first trip to Aiken. Terry Koonkhunted learned about the craft show from a friend who also sets up at craft shows.

“She told me it was a good show to be on, so I signed up for it and luckily, I got in,” he said.

He decided to give the business a try after he was laid off.

The couple lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and travels
to shows around the Southeast, mostly in the spring and fall.

They use hollow coconuts from a company in California that uses the coconut meat and milk for drinks.

Using a drill press, they drill holes in the shells through which the lamplight shines. The coconut is sanded and primed.

The coconut shell becomes either an animal’s torso such as a giraffe or a teddy bear, or a coconut on a palm tree.

When the shell has to be cut, the pieces are salvaged into either trinket holders or coin purses.

“We try not to throw anything away,” he said.

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