Walk this way

By on October 8, 2014

A weekend with the artisans

Sharon Peffer holds a scarf she made of mohair fiber and hand spun soy silk. (photo by Donna Walker)

Sharon Peffer holds a scarf she made of mohair fiber and hand spun soy silk. (photo by Donna Walker)

Sharon Peffer uses only the finest fabric to make her hand-woven shawls and scarves: llama, alpaca, soy silk, buffalo, camel, yak, Golden Retriever.

Wait. What? Golden Retriever?

“A woman kept the hair she brushed from her beloved dog. I washed it, spun it to make a yarn, and then wove a scarf,” Peffer said.

Peffer’s booth sat in the middle of eight others on Moravian Avenue in Lititz Saturday and Sunday as part of the 16th annual Artisan’s Porchwalk. It was one of six stops along the two-mile route that brings people onto the porches and into the yards of charming Lititz homes.

Peffer uses only quality fabric because “the piece is only as good as the fabric,” she said. To the touch her scarves are smooth as butter, but their singularity comes from the beadwork woven directly into them instead of being sewn on after the scarf comes off the loom.

She developed the technique in a “2 a.m. aha moment” and has since taught it to others in a Weaving With Beads course at The Mannings, a textile school and supply business in East Berlin. She’s also been a judge of the Sheep To Shawl competition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Her husband John and granddaughter Samantha, who is learning how to weave, assisted Peffer with customers, explaining that much of the material is handspun right from the fleece of animals and plants like bamboo. Peffer owns five looms and seven spinning wheels and works from her shop in the attic of her Lititz home.

Customers appreciatively paid for the strikingly soft neck wraps that started at $95. Porchwalk artisans said business was steady both days in spite of the blustery Saturday air.

At most stops, guests were welcomed with surprising touches that marked the artists’ creativity. A six-foot couch made of straw bales at the first stop, artist Andy Smith’s house on North Spruce Street, offered respite for tired legs. The cushy quilt covering the bales let patrons sit in the middle of the back yard full of interesting objects surrounding the artisans’ tents: a tree branch growing blue wine bottles, a scarecrow and other signs of the season peeking among the perennials against the fence.

Watercolor, jewelry, wood boxes and repurposed wool purses were among the works.

Back to Moravian Avenue, Stiegel Glassworks 1976 displayed hand-blown glass from the furnace in Manheim. Anne Phillips and her husband Eric volunteered their time to man the booth. Both work full-time and are members of the Stiegel Glassworks 1976 board, committed to keeping alive the heritage and history of Lititz’s neighboring town.

The Glassworks is completely managed by volunteers who worked to rebuild the furnace used by Stiegel’s glassworks back in the day. It’s located two blocks from the original building that burned down in the 1800s. All of the money raised goes into keeping the operation going, including the expense of the 2,000 degree furnace.

“It’s all about community,” Eric Phillips said. “Manheim was founded by Henry Stiegel and we believe in preserving the heritage of Manheim.”

So there you have it, a Lititz event that goes beyond its borders, Porchwalk weekend provided another opportunity for locals to support the region’s most creative artists.

Donna Walker is a freelance feature reporter for the Record Express. She welcomes your comments at donnawalker52@gmail.com.

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