WATERLOO – Glass, wood, metal, ceramics and wool are the elements for gifts during the Holiday Arts Festival this weekend.

Some 44 area artists showcased their works at the Waterloo Center for the Arts for the 48th annual event Saturday and will return for the event’s second day today.

“This morning, folks were just pouring in. It was just great,” said Chawne Paige, the center’s curator. “This year, our textile artists are definitely in force. … In thinking about preparation for Iowa winters, there are some great stocking suffers with those. There are some amazing ceramicists, as well.”

Ellen Sakornbut, a weaver and spinner from Waterloo, said her scarves and accessories were popular items Saturday.

“I had one lady who came in and bought three pairs of fingerless gloves, so I’m going to be a knitting fool,” Sakornbut said. “Long-sleeve T-shirts sold a lot today and a fair number of ties. … Last week it was felt scarves. They just about wiped me out in the Amanas, I was rolling felt all week until I was tired.”

Sakornbut likes working with animal fibers like wool because it is environmentally friendly with the lowest carbon footprint for fabric. A friend grows and sheers the wool, which is sent to a mill with special instructions to obtain the desired blends and textures. Some of the dyes come from plants in her garden.

Sakornbut began sewing and crocheting in her youth — her mother was a home economics teacher — and she began spinning in 2012 with the help of the Northeast Iowa Spinners and Weavers Guild. After that came felting, dyeing and weaving.

“My mother would be happy. I sew a lot now. I don’t do all my own clothes, but I do sew,” Sakornbut said. Sakornbut has a number of sewing machines, but her favorite is one she inherited from her mother. “When I’m sewing on her sewing machine, it’s always kind of a nice thing because I feel she’d be very happy I was using it.”

The Waterloo Center for the Arts’ featured exhibit remains up for this year’s Arts Festival to celebrate the anniversary of its Haitian collection, Paige said. The event also includes a fundraiser for Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa, which was selling artwork from the Regions Bank collection.

The Holiday Arts Festival continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Center, 225 Commercial St. Admission is free.


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