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Madison Street Festival crafters exhibit diverse taste, talent and motivation

MADISON – When Madison Street Festival returns on October 7, many visitors will head directly to Crafters Cove, home of handmade arts and crafts. Three of approximately 70 crafters share their stories with “Madison Living.”

Heather Welch designs custom-made clocks — for a more lofty reason than just to make a profit.

About two years ago, Heather saw a vintage, farmhouse clock in a magazine. “I fell in love with it, but it was out of my budget and too small for where I wanted to put it. Meanwhile, her husband Derrick was invited to join a mission trip to Africa.”

“The trip was going to cost a good chunk of change,” Heather said. “I wanted to start a fundraiser for his trip.” Numerous people requested Heather’s clocks, so she launched her business, The Craft House.

Heather builds her ‘shabby chic’ clocks with used/recycled wood. She personalizes each clock with the buyer’s last name and usually their wedding year. Every clock is unique. Available in three sizes, Welch’s clocks blend in any decorating motif.

What’s the most difficult step with her clock making? “I can’t tell you all my secrets,” Heather said jokingly.

Along with MSF, Heathers sells clocks at The Funky Monkey, Boutique Warehouse, her home and Facebook/thecrafthouseheatherwelch.

Originally from Central Florida, the Welches moved to Madison in 2008. “We love it here!” Heather said. They are members of Movement Church in Madison.

Derrick works as a government contractor and helping Heather cut out clocks. Their children are Paxton, 5.5 years old and entering kindergarten, and Porter, 3.5 years old. We’re expecting our third boy in October,” Heather said.

After MSF, the Welches will use some of this year’s profits for Derrick’s mission trip in 2018.

Another vendor in Crafter Cove will be Mary Beth Jernigan with Cavendish Creations.

“I hand-paint signs on old wood and repurposed material from pallets, fences, barns, floors, cabinet doors … pretty much anything I find. I also make crosses, trays and other home decor items. I give new life to small furniture pieces and items with chalk paint,” Mary Beth said.

“Ive always enjoyed doing creative things. Four years ago, I stocked up on inventory and participated in MSF to see what happened. Well, I had a great day so I decided to continue to do local crafts shows or markets,” Mary Beth said.

HGTV episodes fueled her interest in repurposing and sign painting. With few options in stores, she realized she could make most of those accessories.

A lot of what is available now is mass-produced. I really like something that is handmade, Mary Beth said. “Imperfections of old wood and hand-painting something make it unique. I love how an old piece of wood becomes something treasured when painted with words, made into a cross or tray and then finished with stain or wax.

“Its true beauty comes out,” she said.

2017 will be her fifth year at MSF. “I just love it! I meet lots of great people and see many friends and neighbors. Crafters and artists have unique items,” Mary Beth said.

Cavendish Creations also participates in Madison Arts Council’s Kris Kringle Market and Asbury United Methodist Church’s Taste of the Holidays. She has Facebook and Etsy pages.

She is married to Dave Jernigan, Madison Chief of Police. “Dave enjoys going with me to flea markets and yard sales and looking for old wood. He helps me set up at shows,” Mary Beth said.

The Jernigans’ daughters are 29-year-old Katelyn of Nashville, a school librarian, and 26-year-old Sarah, a social worker in Mobile.

Another MSF artisan, Pat Modica has created birdhouses about eight years. He started with simple structures for his backyard, primarily constructed from scrap wood and deadfall from his neighborhood.

“I gradually added ‘comfort’ features like lawn chairs, barbecue grills, flower pots and what-nots and developed themes, such as flower shops, mountain cabins or general stores,” he said.

No two houses are identical. “Although functional as a full-fledged outdoor birdhouse, mine will weather better in a covered patio or a fireplace mantle,” Pat said.

Each birdhouse requires one week to build. MSF is the only festival that he attends because of time constraints in building an inventory.

In years past, he has built shelving, cabinets and even a bunk bed for his four Yorkshire terriers. He dabbled in oil painting, and his love for old barns and rustic scenes influenced birdhouse designs.

“I enjoy my birdhouse hobby because I can be creative in woodworking without worry of close dimensions — sort of a freedom. It gets me out of my recliner,” Pat said.

Money is not his object. “I just do it for enjoyment,” Pat said. “The best part of MSF is talking about the details, what wood I used, how I constructed the roof or any other details.”

His wife Jade is his best critic and an essential sounding board for every birdhouse. We came to Huntsville from California 26 years ago and started a new life. We are retired and enjoy traveling occasionally,” Pat said.

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