Crafts continue on in Barre
By Eric Blaisdell
STAFF WRITER | November 26,2012
Stefan Hard / Staff Photo
Kay Mariotti of White River Junction shows her handmade teddy bears and crocheted sweaters Sunday during the Greater Barre Craft Guild Show at the Barre Auditorium. Mariotti has been making the bears, with hand-knit outfits, since the 1970s.
BARRE — Over 60 years ago her mother taught her to crochet, and now Kay Mariotti uses that skill to help pay for her vacations.
Kay Mariotti was one of over 120 vendors at the 32nd annual Greater Barre Craft Guild show held Saturday and Sunday at the Barre Auditorium.
Mariotti, 69, was born and raised in Barre, and moved to White River Junction after she was married. She said she has been selling her crafts, such as handmade teddy bears and crocheted clothing, at the Barre craft show for the past 15 years, but has been involved in the greater craft show world since the mid 1970s.
It all started at a Fourth of July show in Woodstock. Mariotti enjoyed crocheting fairytale dolls, like Cinderellas, and someone had taken notice of her work. That someone was one of the craft show officials, who then offered Mariotti a table at the July 4 show.
“I made $100 the first day. I was on cloud nine because it was the first (show) I’d ever done,” she said.
Now, Mariotti attends perhaps six shows a year around Vermont and New Hampshire. In her heyday, she would work from 15 to 20 a year.
“Seemed like every weekend we were at a show,” she said.
One of the reasons for the slowdown is that she’s starting to get arthritis in her hands. But achy hands aren’t the only reason she attends fewer shows these days.
Mariotti said around 15 of the shows that she used to work simply don’t exist anymore, including a two-day show in Victory, Vt., and another in Waterbury. She said the shows were run by older people who had no one to hand the reigns off to when they retired from the craft show scene.
While Mariotti was not happy to see those shows end, she said the pace she is going at now suits her just fine.
Mariotti spends about $500 a year on materials, which she uses, along with fabric she has collected over the years, to make her crafts. She uses the profits from the shows, as well as income from working as an off-ice official for Hartford High School hockey games, to pay for her and her husband’s vacation each year.
Mariotti said she has traveled to places like Utah, Alaska, and even to Ireland in September. She plans on returning to Alaska next summer.
Her mother taught Mariotti, at the age of six, how to crochet, embroider, and sew lace onto pillow cases.
Now, Mariotti has two sons, a daughter, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren, with a fifth on the way. She used to make hats and other items for her children when they were in school. Now she makes clothes and toys for her great-grandchildren. Through it all Marioitti said she also has saved money over the years by making things for her family herself.
The most difficult works that Mariotti creates are her teddy bears. Mariotti said she never dreamed of making teddy bears until she attended a trade show in Springfield, Mass. She fell in love with a bear on display and had to have the pattern. All of her bears are hand-stitched and hand-stuffed, and most of them have movable limbs.
“You never know how (the bear) is going to come out, facial wise, until it is made,” she said. “I can use the same pattern, but depending on how (the stuffing) in the face turns out, it can be a completely different bear.”