Chadds Ford Historical Society

Revisiting History


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: WoodWhims

This is our interview with Jack O’Brien.  He will be attending Chadds Ford Days this September 12th-13th and he will be bringing his craft, whimsical wooden folk art.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.?

I am from Baltimore originally, and I worked in Annapolis for a good number of years. I now live near Centerville, where we fixed up old farmhouse. The house was built around 1790-1820 and there were a lot of repairs to make, like a flooded basement. It is on 10 acres, with a nice pond, and it is currently surrounded by cornfields, which gives us a nice amount of privacy.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended?

I’ve attended Chadds Ford Days for 18 years. It started back in the 80s and then I decided to take a break, which turned out to be for 10 years. But I have attended for the past 2 years and I’ll be there this fall. It really is a nice show, with a nice mood. It’s very pleasant.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?

I make wooden folk art, which has been described as original and whimsical. They are all done by hand, so no two are alike. I do some similar styles but all are unique. My pieces can be identified at many museums and some are at the Chadds Ford Historical Society gift shop. My wooden folk art has also made it to 12 different countries and many states. I have a core of collectors, and do some commissioned pieces.

Do you use any local goods in your craft?

I use wood from both antique stores and from local wood.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?

I always like when my art makes people happy and when my customers smile at pieces. People say they can tell I have a good sense of humor from my pieces, and they tell me that my work has a lot of character. Very often I hear that I look like I enjoy what I do, and I do enjoy it greatly.

How do you seek to impact the community with your business?

The impact I feel I have on the community is to make people smile.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days?

I will have the usual selection, but there will be some variations there also. I am looking forward to being at Chadds Ford Days this fall.

Photo credit: Deny Howeth


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: By Hand

Check out our interview with Susan Tripp, who will be joining us this September 12th-13th for our 50th Annual Chadds Ford Days.  She is one of our talented crafters whose work you can see for yourself this fall.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.?

I grew up in the Adirondack Region of upstate New York, and most of my family still lives in that area.  I came to Philadelphia as a VISTA Volunteer in the early 1970s and never left and have raised my own family here.  In my non-crafting life, I do accounting work for a non-profit.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended?

I have been doing craft shows for about twelve years and have spent a lot of that time looking for shows where I can do well and enjoy myself at the same time.  About seven years ago, a crafter at another show recommended Chadds Ford and I tried it that same year.  I have been at Chadds Ford every year since then since it meets my two main criteria – it is a productive show for crafters and it is an enjoyable show.  The people who run the show are efficient and they and the visitors are pleasant, fun to talk to and easy going at the same time.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?

While I have done a lot of different types of crafts over the years, the one that I enjoy the most and the one that I show is my knitting.  I learned to knit from my mother more than 50 years ago and have always liked the ability my knitting has to produce a sense of calm and a sense of accomplishment at the same time.

Do you use any local goods in your craft?

I generally don’t use local goods in my craft since the supply of local yarn is limited and tends to be expensive if your ultimate goal is to sell your product to another.  Some of the local yarn that I have seen is absolutely beautiful and if I was knitting for personal use, I would definitely buy and use it for me and my family.  I buy from a number of vendors that sell yarn made from natural fibers, made around the world, from Asia to South America.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?

I guess that I would want people to walk away from my booth feeling a sense of nostalgia, mixed with a feel for today.  Lots of people talk to me about their grandmothers and about the memories they have of her sitting and knitting or teaching them to knit.  I like the sense of connection with other generations that knitting brings to people and hope that seeing what I do, brings back those feelings and revitalizes those connections.

How do you seek to impact the community with your business? 

I hope that my business inspires people to learn to knit or to re-learn the craft.  I often communicate with people by e mail after shows about patterns, where to buy yarn and patterns and what they can do to start their own small business.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days?

This year, I have a number of new patterns in some very beautiful years from around the world.  In particular, I have a lot of items made from a Japanese yarn whose colorways are the most beautiful the yarn world has to offer.  Pieces made from silk blends, alpaca, merino wool and other natural fibers in vibrant colors should offer a lot of choice.


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: Shaker Boxes

Today’s Chadds Ford Days Spotlight features woodwooker Allen Androkites and his intricately designed Shaker Box creations.  You can find him at the festival this September 12th-13th, along with many other unique crafters.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.? 

I grew up in Plymouth Township and, in junior high, I had a wonderful woodworking teacher that helped to inspire me – Gene Cestrone. My parents also played a major roll. I attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and then off to Millersville University to be a woodworking teacher. Currently, I teach woodworking at Pennridge High School in Perkasie, PA and have enjoyed it tremendously.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended? 

I have participated in Chadds Ford Days for over 25 years. I learned how to make Shaker Boxes from Dick Soule – Orleans Carpenters. For a few years, he came down from Cape Cod to do Chadds Ford Days. Once he stopped, the Historical Society asked me to replace Orleans Carpenters.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it? 

I produce Shaker Boxes with a twist on my own interpretation. I use the same techniques that the Shakers did and then I have used my artistic ability to design and develop new pieces. The design aspect is my motivation.

Blue Box Elder Burl Shaker Box 001_revised    Maple Burl Shaker Box 013_revised

Do you use any local goods in your craft?

Some of the wood that I use is cherry that grew in Pennsylvania. The finest cherry in the world grows in Pennsylvania. In addition, I use walnut and curly maple lumber from PA.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?

There are four things I would like people to remember, the quality of the product, the original design, the fine finish on the products, and the historical importance of the Shaker Boxes.

How do you seek to impact the community with your business?  

I hope to impact the community by offering a unique product with a historical twist at a fair price.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days? 

Quality Shaker Boxes with original designs and unique wood selection, wood turned items such as spinning tops, toaster tongs, bottle stops. Also, in my booth, I will be cutting boards and clip boards.

Trash Can 3_revised     Nest 1_revised


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: Cornucopia Jewelry

IMG_0024We’re continuing our Chadds Ford Days spotlights on this year’s amazing crafters.  Here is our interview with Carlene Bleacher, who designs and creates stunning natural jewelry out of minerals and gemstones.  We are excited to see what she will present at Chadds Ford Days this September 12th-13th.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.? 

Although I live in Lancaster County now, my family originates from Pittsburgh PA.  My Uncle is a miner who moved to Arizona and has been an invaluable source to me, not only in supply but in inspiration.

I remember when growing up, he and his beautiful wife would return to Pittsburgh wearing these fabulous stones from the southwest that was unheard of in the east at that time.  I was always in awe of nature’s majesty, but this added another facet.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended?

For many years, my husband and I have been frequent visitors to Chadds Ford.  We love the winery, the restaurants and the area shops.  When I discovered this event several years ago, I was so excited to be a part of a long standing tradition in such a historic setting.  Everyone here is a pleasure to be with.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?

I make jewelry using natural minerals and gemstones.  Most are set in Sterling Silver and 14k gf.  Also leather bracelets have become somewhat of a specialty.  I began my journey as a self-taught artist, again mainly because of my southwest family’s influence.  After a few years I developed a hunger for more advanced options.  I take metal smithing classes on an ongoing basis to enhance my skills.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?

I’ve won numerous awards for my designs.  I’m most proud of the originality and my focus to quality and customer service.

How do you seek to impact the community with your business?  

The best compliment I can receive is when someone tells me that one of my pieces makes them feel good about themselves, or the way they look.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days?  

Every year is a new experience.  Although my style remains constant, you can look forward to new designs, colors and arrangement.

Photos Courtesy of Carlene Bleacher

IMG_0458 IMG_0553 IMG_0025

IMG_0615Cornucopia Award PicIMG_0021


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: Possum Hollow Gourds

Meet another one of our talented crafters joining us for Chadds Ford Days on September 12th-13th.  This interview is with Mary Ellen Sweeny about her business, Possum Hollow Gourds.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.?

My name is Mary Ellen Sweeny.  I attended Calvert Maryland and now am a retired nurse.   I have always loved doing crafts.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended?

Another vendor told us about this event.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?

I took a class on making a gourd snowman, and then starting making Gourd birdhouses and bird feeders myself.  I then made bowls and vases, and later purses. We eventually added walking sticks to our line.

Do you use any local goods in your craft? 

Yes, we buy the gourds we use for our crafts from a gourd farmer in Pennsylvania.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?

Most people will say our products are very creative and colorful.  The true test is if the customers come back the next year and we have had that result quite often.

How do you seek to impact the community with your business?  

I strive to serve my customers and hope that they become returning customers.  I also give classes and just have fun with it.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days?

You can look forward to seeing lots of Halloween themed products, such as jacks, ghosts, Frankensteins, and scare crows. We will also bring painted bird houses and feeders, as well as plain gourds with leather dye.  And there will also be one-of-a-kind gourd purses that are lined.

Be sure to check the link below to learn more: http://www.possumhollowgourds.com/

Gourd 3

Gourds 2


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: Jillybeans LLC

Here is a Chadds Ford Spotlight highlighting Jillybeans, a company run by two sisters, Mary Claire Matulay and Jill Monarch.  They create beautiful and one-of-a-kind outfits for a girl’s best friend.  You can find them at the festival this September 12th-13th, along with many other unique crafters.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.? 

My sister and I grew up in New Jersey and we now live in Lyme, New Hampshire and Thornton, PA.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended? 

I live in PA and used to attend Chadds Ford Days with my kids.  Once my sister and I started the business, it seemed only natural to apply to Chadds Ford Days.  This will be our 10th year.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it? 

We make clothing for 18 and 15″ dolls like the American Girl Dolls and Bitty Babies.  I have 3 girls…..enough said!!

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people? 

It’s simple….two moms (who happen to be sisters) encouraging play time for children of all ages!  We believe that everyone has their own style, so we buy our fabric in small quantities.  Once we’ve used all of a particular color or pattern fabric, we move on to a new fabric.  Offering each of our clients the ability to express their individuality!

How do you seek to impact the community with your business? 

Our impact is bringing joy and fun to someone’s life.

Jillybeans Pic 2Jillybeans Pic 3

Check them out at the links below:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JillybeansDollThings

https://www.facebook.com/Doll.clothes.by.Jillybeans

Photos courtesy of Jillybeans LLC


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: Brandywine Bowls

Continuing our Chadds Ford Days spotlights, here is an interview with Paul Koch about his craft, lathe turned wooden bowls.  His craft brings out the natural beauty in local wood and turns it into art you can both use and appreciate.  Come find him this September 12th-13th!  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.?

I grew up in Sharon Hill, PA and have been a Delaware County resident nearly all of my life. I currently live in Chadds Ford and have been a resident since March 1998. I have a background in telecommunications and collaborative communications technologies. I have been a stay-at-home dad for the past ten years and turn bowls when time and my other responsibilities allow. I am or have been involved in a number of community activities and organizations, including the boards of the Civic Association of Chadds Ford and The Chadds Historical Society.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended?

Having been a member of the Historical Society and the Society Board, I have been involved in Chadds Ford Days for a number of years as a volunteer working on restaurants, sponsors and as a Tavern keeper, etc.  2015 will be my 3rd year as a crafter at CF Days.

Spalted Horse Chestnut Bowl

Spalted Horse Chestnut Bowl

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?

I turn wooden bowls from local hardwoods on a lathe. I have always enjoyed working on a lathe, as far back as high school, which was many years ago, but every now and then I would make something for our home or for family. Four years ago, I was trying to come up with a unique Christmas gift for my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and her bus driver, so I made them each a bowl and it was well received. That same Christmas season, I took a bowl to a party where Pollyanna gifts were exchanged and traded….again the bowl I made was well received. The next year, the same activities were repeated and the feedback I got encouraged me to donate bowls to the Chadds Ford Elementary Art Show, and ultimately to pursue this path as a part time profession. Since that time, I have participated at Chadds Ford Days, Chadds Ford Elementary School’s Art Show, Unionville High School’s Art Gala, Art Shows at the Galer Winery, quarterly festivals at Terrain and I have an Etsy site as well, which is: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrandywineBowls. In the 3 years that I have seriously pursued this activity, I have donated, gifted or sold almost 200 unique, one of a kind bowls.

Do you use any local goods in your craft?

Nearly all of the wood that I use for my work comes from properties, woods or roads of Chadds Ford or neighboring communities, including my own property, The Brandywine Battlefield, Sandy Hollow in Birmingham Township, Doe Run Farm and The Tyler Arboretum. The most distant source has been from my sister’s home outside of Annapolis. Other “not as local” sources include properties in Glenmoore, West Chester and King of Prussia.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?

Hickory Bowl

Hickory Bowl

Each bowl that I make is a one of a kind bowl. And each has its own story….where the wood came from, specific features (colors, wood imperfections, knots, etc.) that make them unique. When I start work on a piece of wood, I have a general idea of the shape and style of the end product. However, the wood itself dictates, to an extent, the look of the end product. I usually “turn” the bowls while the wood is wet (not kiln dried). Sometimes, freshly fallen trees are so “wet” that my arm gets soaked from all of the water being thrown from the piece of wood that is spinning several hundred times per minute. Once I finish turning the bowls, I set them aside (under a brown paper bag) to allow them to dry slowly prior to final sanding. Often, during this drying time, the bowls will twist and turn a bit as the wood reaches its stable state….making for even more unique shapes. My favorite project is making memories for families of favorite trees that have fallen. I have made a number of bowls for families and friends that have come from trees that had some special meaning and memories for members of the family (including one set of 13 bowls for a family, all from the same hickory tree from their property).

How do you seek to impact the community with your business?

Through donations to various community entities, I have helped raised funds for causes and organizations that do good work in the area. Beyond financial support of local organizations, I am hopeful that when people see the work I do, they are able to see the beauty that might be inside any piece of wood that may fall on their property or even those pieces they see at the side of the road.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days?

I will bring a collection of unique, one of a kind wooden bowls, all food safe, that can serve as fresh fruit or salad bowls, smaller nut or candy bowls or as decorative pieces, given their styles, coloring and grain patterns. These bowls are great as gifts (engagement, wedding, house warming) or as a gift to oneself. I currently have an inventory of 28 bowls turned using 11 different types of trees. Over the summer, I will be adding to that inventory and will be adding Osage Orange and Sassafras wood to the wood varieties I offer. The Sassafras wood is coming from a fallen tree on my property that at one point was on record as the 3rd largest Sassafras tree in the state of Pennsylvania. You will also find a very enthusiastic bowl maker who would love to chat about the bowls, the process of making them and even the potential to deliver on special orders from those attending.

Be sure to check out all the beautiful bowls at the link below and at Chadds Ford Days this September!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrandywineBowls

Photos Courtesy of Brandywine Bowls


Leave a comment

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: The Jersey Jerry Broomsquire

One of the best parts of Chadds Ford Days is all the unique crafters that attend, each bringing an artistic and distinctive element to the festival.  Below you will find an interview with one of our longstanding crafters, Sam Moyer, who brings skill, art, and history together in broom making.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.?
I grew up on a farm near Hershey, PA.  I attended Hershey High School in the Agriculture Program, then Hershey Jr. College.  I received my BS in agriculture from Penn State, my MS in poultry genetics from the University of New Hampshire, and then my Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Minnesota.  I taught genetics at Northeastern University in Boston, and I retired from teaching biology and genetics at Burlington County College, Pemberton NJ.

How many years have you attended Chadds Ford Days?
I have attended Chadds Ford Days for 25+ years, and I have been making brooms for 35 years.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?
My craft is broom making. I was interested in the genetics of the plant, which is a type of sorghum, and so I developed a multicolored, machine harvestable broomcorn, again a type of sorghum from 1983 to 2006.

Do you use any local goods in your craft?
I plant 1.5 acres broomcorn on a preserved farm, in Burlington County, NJ, and use this to make my craft.  I also make the broom handles from scrap/reclaimed wood.

What is it you want people to remember about your craft/how do you seek to inspire people?
I am proud to craft art that you can use and I hope to make sweeping a pleasure.

How do you seek to impact the community with your business? 
I seek to reduce plastic use and also to reduce the use of foreign imports.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days? 
woven topsdemo with winder.  wrought iron

Photos courtesy of Dr. Sam Moyer, Ph. D.

Check out the links below to learn more: http://articles.philly.com/2003-11-16/news/25463427_1_broom-berea-college-sorghum www.broomcrafters.com