Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for January, 2017

Capezio’s Gift Ranch: Home of Alpacas

 

alpaca-melissa

The alpacas gather around Melissa for a taste of some ground feed in August.

Improve the lives of children and adults through a connection with the amazing spirit of animals.

That’s the goal of Melissa Snyder in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio near Norwich, where she has created a home for alpacas. However, her story begins with a horse.

As a child, Melissa had a special horse call Capezio. This horse had a club foot and walked slowly but he was her special horse for thirty-two years. Capezio’s gentleness had children waiting in line at the petting zoo or for a pony ride at the fair. Melissa remembered, “His gift was to help kids. He was here to make kids happy.”

alpaca-herd-in-shade

While alpacas can stand very cold weather, the heat is something they try to avoid.

Capezio taught Melissa many lessons in life and developed her zeal for animals that needed that extra touch of loving care. So when she decided to name her farm, she knew that her passion for animals was a gift from Capezio; therefore, she named it Capezio’s Gift Ranch.

After she graduated from Lake Erie College with a degree in Entrepreneurship, she only raised horses. Then one day she purchased a pony that had an alpaca friend, who came as part of the bargain. A local vet told her that the alpaca would be stressed without another alpaca for company. The herd began.

alpaca-baby-don-diego

Eight day old, Don Diego, stays close to the fan with his mother, Miss Ellie and their last import, Appy.

The rare and exotic alpaca has been a treasure of the Andes for over 6,000 years. While they closely resemble the llama, who is a working animal, the friendly, gentle alpaca lives a life of luxury with their task being to eat and make exquisite fiber.

Over a period of a few years, alpacas became the center of Melissa’s life. Soon people were calling her to see if the ranch had room for another alpaca. One evening when she came home, an alpaca was tied to a post by their driveway. It appears that Melissa has a soft spot in her heart for any animal that needs fed. At this point, an alpaca rescue was established.

alpaca-shade-hut

This shade hut provides an escape on a hot summer day.

Alpacas might be Suri or Huacaya breeds, with Huacaya being the one most often needing rescued. The Suri fleece is long, straight and softer and demands a higher market price. These are seldom in need of rescue. The Huacaya have a short, curly fleece, which is also soft and fine.

Vet bills add up, so the size of the herd stops at around twenty. But if they need vet care, Melissa won’t deny them treatment. She has eaten peanut butter sandwiches for a couple of weeks in order to pay the vet. Extraordinary dedication!

alpaca-melissa-at-work

Work never stops as in the evenings, Melissa enjoys weaving and knitting with the soft fleece yarn.

Melissa and her partner, Nathan, do their own sheering when the temperature warms up in April and May. Then Melissa and a couple friends are responsible for cleaning, carding, spinning and weaving many items from the natural fiber that they receive.

Alpacas enjoy cold weather…even down to a -22 degrees doesn’t phase them. But heat is a different story so they have shade huts with fans to keep them cool on hot summer days.

Melissa works with the Living Waters Clover Crew 4-H Club, where she shares information on alpacas and has workshops on fiber use. Club members are encouraged to adopt an alpaca for their project so they can show them at the fair.

alpaca-cuteness

Addison feels a special connection to Delilah.

Capezio’s Gift Ranch covers all alpaca expenses for members of 4-H. This year some of the 4-H members showed them at the Muskingum County Fair and the Ohio State Fair.

alpaca-obstacle-course

Avalanche, a deaf alpaca, participated in the Obstacle Course at the The Ohio State Fair.

While fair judging centers on fleece and conformation, games at the fair provide great fun. Musical Rug, Leaping Llama, and Obstacle Course are favorites. Musical Rug is similar to Musical Chairs with the alpacas having to stop on a rug when the music stops. This year at the State Fair, that contest was won by a Capazeo alpaca…who was blind. The fun never stops!

alpaca-animals

Animals knitted from alpaca fleece feel soft and cuddly.

Alpacas are often adopted by fiber farmers, who want their own soft fleece for weaving.. Good retirement homes are always needed. They can be adopted for a fee.

While they usually eat hay and grain, like us they also enjoy treats. Some of their favorites are fig newtons, bananas, and raisins. Since they have no upper teeth, these soft foods are easy for them to chew.

alpaca-products

If you want to buy some of their products in Cambridge, Ohio, stop at their booth in County Bits on Wheeling Avenue..

Melissa dreams about someday having her own alpaca barn and showroom. The barn would provide an isolation spot for new alpacas and provide coolness on a hot summer day. In the showroom, visitors could experience making the yarn and see many beautiful finished products.

alpaca-booth

Last fall, Teddy came to the Cambridge Street Fair for the enjoyment of kids of all ages.

Melissa knows every alpaca in the field quite well. She knows their names and birthdates better than most people know this information about their families..Melissa takes great pleasure in talking about her friends, the alpacas.

Melissa Snyder can be reached  on Facebook at Capezio’s Gift Ranch, the easiest way to make a connection, or by phone at (740) 583-4030 .

 

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Walt Taylor: Creative Inspiration to the Community

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Walt instructs one of his students in the proper way to use a pottery wheel.

One of the areas where Walt Taylor excels is passing on his love for art. That’s why he enjoys sharing his knowledge with adults and especially young people, as they’re our future artists.

As a small child he lived on a farm in Lebanon, Ohio where  he attended a one-room school that was very typical of schools in those days: no running water, out door toilets, a pot bellied stove, and a paddle hanging on the wall behind the stove.

Walt had a story to tell about that paddle. A school bully pushed him around one day and Walt swung his lunch bucket, and hit the bully in the head knocking him to the ground. Both were taken inside and leaned over a desk for a paddling. First, the bully received a stern thrashing while Walt quaked. When it was Walt’s turn, the teacher swung the paddle one time so hard it hit the side of the desk and broke in two. No paddling for Walt that day. Doesn’t sound like an accident on the part of the teacher to me.

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He enjoys creating one of a kind vases with floral applique.

The family moved often. His father said, “A rolling stone gathers no moss, but it gains a great polish.” At one time they lived near Fort Ancient and Walt followed his dad around the field when he was plowing, and found many arrowheads. 

Woodcrafting has been a hobby since he was a young man. His building skills still go on today as he makes cabinets, chairs, and recently a communion stand for a local church that had just rebuilt.

walt-cabinet

This talented man made these oak chairs and the cabinet behind them.

For the past few years, he has been making one new chair for their dining room each year. But he said he has been procrastinating about finishing the last two. He even joined the Procrastinators Anonymous, but they haven’t had a meeting yet.

He also enjoyed working on automobiles so developed mechanical skills as well.  That came in handy as he and his wife, Sheila, motorcycled all over the country. His favorite places to ride were in the mountains out west. It was in those mountains of Montana, where they saw the work of western potters, that an interest for making pottery began.

They also discovered many things on those back roads that you just can’t see from the interstate. He thought he noticed something that looked like Stonehenge on one such road, but it turned out to be Carhenge. Here cars were buried front first in the ground. Then there was the House on a Rock, a motel on an Indian reservation, and the list goes on.

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Walt holds the first piece of pottery he ever made…out of kitty litter.

It wasn’t until 1992 that Walt tried his hand at pottery. At Octoberfest, he purchased his first kiln and making pottery has become his passion ever since. The first bowl he made was out of ‘unused’ kitty litter! He learned that kitty litter had a clay base and when mixed with a little bit of water could be worked into shape. That bowl still sets on his bedroom stand today.

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Walt and Sheila  have attended many festivals in the area to display and sell their creations.

To begin with, he made pottery items just because he enjoyed doing it. Then he began giving them to his friends, who told him that he should be selling them. That began a business they ran until last year, Taymoor Pottery…a combination of his last name and his wife, Sheila’s maiden name.

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Walt has a smile on his face while working with youngsters at Art in the Park during the Salt Fork Festival.

Walt and Sheila, hope to teach youngsters to enjoy art as much as they do. They’ve helped teach children’s art classes at the Salt Fork Festival for several years. Wherever Walt is making pottery, children can usually be found watching. Talking about children always brings a smile to his face as ,“They are fun to work with. If you treat them as equals, they accept you as you are.”

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Walt greeted visitors as Father Christmas for ten years, with help from Sheila.

For the last ten years, Walt has portrayed Father Christmas for Dickens Victorian Village. He would meet buses on the street or in the Welcome Center and probably has his picture in many family albums as a result. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to do that this year at the age of 91.

Even though the business is closed, they still enjoy making pottery. Now they make just what they like. Right now Raku, a Japanese style is a favorite. It was first used by the Japanese Emperor and was known as a ‘throw away pottery’. The emperor would drink his tea, then throw the cup against the wall.

walt-raku

His current favorite project centers around Raku, a Japanese form of art.

Raku is a ‘quick fire, quick cool’ kind of pottery so it would be fired and ready for supper quickly. Today in the United States a glaze is added and it’s no long a throw away. Actually it’s so attractive you wouldn’t want to throw it away.

walt-fishing

Walt still enjoys a day on the lake with his fishing pole.

Walt is just ‘a good old boy’, who has taken an interest in the community in many different ways. Thoughts of travel still skip through his mind and he often dreams of living in Hawaii or Tahiti…or at least visiting. Our world could use more of those ‘good old boys’.

David Warther Preserves History of Ships in Ivory

david-warther-sign

This sign on Route 39 signals that you have arrived at David Warther Carvings.

Following in his family’s footsteps, David Warther excels as a maritime artist. The detailed work takes time and patience to create the beautifully finished ships that can be found at this exhibit. Three years ago, David decided to open a museum to display room after room of his carved masterpieces. David Warther Carvings is located on Route 39 between Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek.

david-warther-early-ships

David began making ships from scraps of wood when he was six years old.

His passion for carving began as a child. He wanted to do what his grandfather, Ernest Warther, did – make carvings. But his object wasn’t trains, like his grandfather, but ships instead.At the age of six, he took scraps of wood to make his first ship. His mother kept that ship all these years and it is on display in the museum today.

david-warther-high-school

At the age of 17, he carved from ivory his first ship, a coast guard cutter.

As a junior in high school he finished his first carving the USCGC Eagle, using ivory, ebony, abalone pearl and walnut. The Eagle was used as a training cutter for officers in the United States Coast Guard. David’s love of ships continued to grow.

david-warther-stallion-of-rouen

The Vikings used the Stallion of Rouen as a trading ship between France and the waters of the Mediterranean. David uses the world map to point out locations for his maritime stories.

Not only can you see impressive ships with scrimshaw engraving at this exhibit, but David tells the history of the times and points out special features on different carvings. The displays are grouped according to a time-line for the ships, from ancient history of Egypt in 3000 B.C. to modern times.

david-warther-pharoahs-ship

This carving depicts an early royal ship for an Egyptian Pharaoh.

A carving of the royal ship of an Egyptian Pharaoh recalls the story of its discovery in 1952 packed away in a box in the Great Pyramid of Egypt. It took twenty years to put it back together and it’s now displayed in a museum at the Great Pyramid. They buried the ship with the King as they believed it was needed to take him to the next world.

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Visitors were shown this special hand-made tool, which is used for making strands of ivory.

When assembling the ships, the parts are held together with tiny ivory pegs. First David must make strands of ivory so he has ample pegs to hold the pieces together. This is a time consuming task as it takes over an hour to make a ten inch strand of ivory, which is about twice the thickness of a human hair.

The strand is filed in a handmade, wooden groove until it is just the right thickness. This is a tedious task as the strands are so thin that breakage often occurs. Once two pieces are fastened together, the end is sanded so smooth that you have to look closely to see the peg. His grandfather, a quiet and soft spoken character, used this same method for the ivory pegs in his steam engines.

It takes about six months to complete each ship and David tries to do two each year. Right now he is working on #85. Each ship is made of ivory with ebony highlights and abalone pearl in the base.

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David is surrounded by his ships as he gives a guided tour.

The Warther family now has four generations of carvers: great-grandfather, grandfather, David and his son. David’s another Warther who does not sell his ivory carvings. They are for viewing only.

david-warther-tusks

The third largest set of elephant tusks in the United States frames a doorway between timeline rooms.

But these ships are just a hobby for David. He earns a living by making parts for musical instruments from ivory of the wooly mammoth. Parts for violins and guitars are quite popular and are shipped around the world.

david-warther-clock-tower

An attractive thirty foot high clock tower pavilion has an observation deck to view surrounding Walnut Valley.

The museum is located on Ohio 39 between Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek. Their winter hours are 10:00 – 4:00 Wednesday through Saturday. Ivory and ebony live together in perfect harmony at David Warther Carvings.

 

 

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