Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Festivals’

Possum Products Creates Basic Wooden Toys

Russ with saw

Russell uses a special saw to cut out pieces for his wooden toys.

Toys for kids of all ages can be found at Possum Products in Newcomerstown. Russ Riggle creates quality handmade wooden toys from over seventy different items he has designed.

Russ Basic Wooden Toy

The popular trend today is to return to the basics with his small wooden car.

   Making toys was a hobby for Russ for many years. He’s always had a passion for building things from wood and remembers a very rough wooden car he built at the age of five. By the time he was in fourth grade, he built a wooden Viking ship. Now his toys are more elaborate and much better quality.

Russ working on wheels

The wheels for his toys are all custom made and attached with wooden pegs.

   After working as a mechanical engineer for many years, his job moved overseas about seven years ago. At that time, he started selling some of the toys he made at the Newcomerstown Farmers’ Market. Sitting around isn’t something that Russ enjoys, so he began experimenting with new designs and products. Russ claims that he makes “anything with four wheels or that can fly in the sky”.

Russ building trucks

Assembling the toys is a bit like putting a puzzle together.

   Besides their being quality toys, they are all made right here in Newcomerstown, Ohio with U.S.A. materials. All toys are smoothly sanded but there is no finish applied. They are lead-free, with no metal or plastic parts and the glue is even food grade in case a young child just happens to chew on it.

   Now he travels to festivals and craft shows all over the state and has even expanded his shows to some out-of-state venues. His toys are very popular as people like to buy things that are created with American-made materials and craftsmanship.

Russ Setting Up

Son Adam helps his dad Russ set up the booth at the Paul Bunyan Festival.

   His sons enjoy helping at the festivals and even make a few wooden toys of their own. Adam and Ben frequently appear to help their dad with setting up the booth. Both enjoy talking to the customers as much as Russ does, and Russ says they are both great salesmen as well.

Russ display

Children like to play with the many toys on display at festival times.

   Having seen Possum Products at the Paul Bunyan Show, Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, and Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, it became evident that their products were something that people from birth to ninety years old enjoy. Boys and girls walk up to their booth and roll the toys along the table, often reorganizing it. It’s a great tool for developing their imagination.

Russ Log truck

This wooden log truck complete with pine logs is his most popular toy.

   One little girl found a snowplow on the table, picked it up and walked outside. There she decided to move some gravel around with the snowplow. She put that toy to work.

   Their display includes a large selection of small wooden animals, which the children pick up and name. One youngster was naming the animals and came to one they called “Cloud”, which was really a sheep. Another cute name the children came up with was “Fast Food” for a pig on wheels.

Russ semi with race car

Get two wooden toys together with this semi carrying a race car.

   Since Russ works out of his basement at home, purchases must be made from the website and festivals he visits. They are busy with shows, and just recently had done eight shows in three weekends. Now you see why it’s important to have his sons involved.

    A rather popular way of using the wooden items is to laser etch the customer’s logo onto the sides. Then they can hand out the wooden truck or tractor with a long-term advertisement. While he doesn’t do custom work, he does get many ideas from his customers for future toys.

Russ helicopter 2

This made a great gift for a helicopter pilot.

   This is Russ’ only job right now and he spends many long hours doing something that he thoroughly enjoys. Making trains, planes, trucks, and tractors takes time and patience as he uses his own designs and even custom-makes his wheels. His prices are very reasonable ranging from $2 for small animals to $72 for a train.

Russ Salt Fork tent

Possum Products displayed at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Visit Russ on his website www.possumproductsllc.com or see his toys in person at a festival or consignment shop near you. In the coming year, Possum Products will be going to Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, Pike Elementary, Roscoe Village and the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   For the guys at Possum Products, the best thing about making toys is the look on a child’s face when they pick up the toys. Russ takes pride in the wooden toys he makes. When he isn’t making toys, he’s playing with them!

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Spinners & Weavers in the Ohio Hills

Spinners Logo

A banner with their logo appears at many festivals.

In the hills of southeastern Ohio near Senecaville and Lore City, a group of locals gather to spin their yarn and their tales. Quite often you’ll hear them telling stories of a particular time in history as they spin their yarn for weaving.

Spinners at work

Spinners and weavers demonstrate under a tent at a local festival.

Members of Ohio Hills Spinners & Weavers Guild are a friendly and happy group, eager to share knowledge about their hobby, which many have pursued for over twenty years. The items they create are beautiful as a result of their artistic abilities.

For members, meetings bring total relaxation as it takes their mind off any troubles while they sit and spin or knit. They find it fascinating that they can “make something from nothing”. Imagine starting with a sheep in the field and ending up with a sweater.

Spinners yarn

Sally spins wool that she sheared from sheep at their farm.

Most of the wool comes from the sheep on the farm of Sally Mehler. Sometimes they use alpaca wool from a neighboring farm as well. This local wool then progresses through the steps of washing, picking, and carding, before it’s spun into yarn. Then often it’s dyed.

Spinners pot holders

Jo Ann finds it more relaxing for her hands to use an electric spinning machine.

Everyone has their own touch when it comes to spinning and weaving. Some prefer a traditional spinning wheel, while others try a more modern touch. A few of the members have an electronic spinner, Hansen miniSpinner, which eases the tension on their hands and most likely produces a more even yarn.

Spinners making cloth

Mary demonstrates how to use the drop spindle.

It’s a great feeling to take the wool and spin it into yarn so it can either be woven or knit into something special. It’s not difficult. Take a section of wool and start spinning from one end on a spinning wheel. Pull little snippets of the wool roving back as the twists of fiber start around the bobbin’s original yarn. The bobbin fills up with the newly formed yarn.

Members carefully choose the type of wool used especially in garments. Merino wool claims to be the softest wool in the world. The merino sheep raised in Australia and New Zealand give us most of the wool used in the United States. If wool makes you itch, you’ve got the wrong kind of wool. “That kind should have been a rug on the floor.”

Spinners yarn samples

These are just a few of the beautiful balls of yarn created by the spinners.

These spinners insist that the more you do, the smoother the yarn. But it’s done from the heart, as one spinner commented, “You don’t get enough in sales to pay for the spinning.” That doesn’t count for all the time spent afterwards creating beautiful items. But it’s still worth-while as people enjoy what they make, while they’re relaxing.

Spinning Mittens

One winter meeting, their project created some practical mittens.

Newcomers will be first taught to spin and then encouraged to move forward with using that yarn to create something they can use. The first thing they learn to knit is usually a basic dish cloth. As they progress, more difficult patterns are introduced.

Shortly, they’re spinning the yarn, then knitting gloves, hats, socks, sweaters and even rugs. This creative process makes people want to return again and again. The woolen items they make will keep a person warm even during wet weather.

Spinners rug

Bill prepares the pieces for twined rug weaving.

Others enjoy rug twining. Three layers of fabric are braided together to form a sturdy rug for use inside or out. It takes a couple of weeks to complete a rug and then they’re usually given away. One rug maker doesn’t even have one of his own…and people are waiting for the next one to be finished.

Spinning grape kool aid

This scarf, created by Sue Sherby, is being made by yarn dyed with grape Kool-Aid.

This group meets the second Thursday of every month at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Lore City. They can also be found displaying their methods and products at many area events during the year. One week they might make mittens or perhaps use Kool-Aid for dying. There’s always an interesting project happening.

Homespun yarn won’t be perfect, but one of the spinners remarked with a smile, ” If you wanted perfect, you would go buy your yarn at the fabric shop!”

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