Half a century of successful artisan fairs, festivals and shows continue to draw crowds of shoppers as the 51st annual Artisan Festival returns to Green Valley Recreation’s West Social Center on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8 and 9.

Presented by GVR’s Lapidary and Silversmith Club, the festival also includes an array of colorful and creative fine works by members of GVR’s clay and pottery club, fiber arts club and wood shop.

Call it early Christmas shopping in one location, with the opportunity to meet 100 artisans, buy direct and take your chosen pieces home with you.

Three new artisans have joined this year's festival. Tom Healy works with clay, Sheryl Haupt creates cloisonné jewelry with silver and gemstones, and Denise Merrick has put a new twist on creating jewelry with polymer-based clay.

Healy had always enjoyed crafts but had never worked with clay until a year ago. He said everything he knows about clay he learned here in Green Valley, and nobody makes what he makes.

After creating an original design, he’ll use a 3-D template to visualize and create the finished piece.

“My work is done with hand building, and I incorporate different types of architecture. I get satisfaction seeing how much I’ve grown,” Healy said.

Haupt, a former watercolor teacher, creates cloisonné jewelry that requires patience, an exacting hand and an artistic mind. Each of her finished pieces has gone through 12 to 40 firings, during which she creates a layer of enamel, allows it to cool and then adds another layer.

“The wire work on some designs is so intricate I work with pliers to be exact. I’m proud of the years of work, energy and time I’ve put into my work,” Haupt said.

Merrick’s art medium of choice is polymer-based clay, a type of modeling clay often used for making craft pieces. Merrick likes its qualities that enable her to manipulate it and do different things with it.

She learned to work with polymer clay by checking out YouTube, books and also a polymer clay group in Tucson. Once a novice, Merrick’s finished pieces now show as the work of an accomplished artisan. That’s due to her work ethic.

“I take my time so my pieces are gallery ready,” she explained.

Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at ellen2414@cox.net.

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