BY SHERI TRUSTY
When Lynne Smith’s mother died 45 years ago, Smith packed up the beads and fabric and other supplies her mother sold at her arts and crafts shop and stored them away. Today, Smith uses those vintage pieces to create unique mixed media portraits of octopuses, elephants and other creatures.
On Saturday, June 10, three of her pieces were on display at the Sutton Center in Port Clinton as part of the Hidden Gems art reception hosted by the Port Clinton Artists’ Club.
The reception featured the art of over 25 local artists.
“We have all these wonderful artists here, and not many people know about it,” said event chair Judy Maher. “We encouraged people to have lunch at Bistro 163 and have dessert with us. Between the Bistro and the art show, there are two hidden gems here at the Sutton Center.”
Down the road at Waterworks Park, the Greater Port Clinton Area Arts Council (GPCAAC) held its 30th annual Arts and Crafts Festival. The event featured a variety of art, including glassware, woodworking, paintings and jewelry.
“We have over 60 vendors from Ohio and the surrounding states,” said GPCAAC Press Secretary Jessica Denton. “We have a great variety of artists.”
Among the vendors was longtime Port Clinton toymaker Armando Castillo who brought dozens of his handmade wooden toys. Castillo attends the GPCAAC Arts and Crafts Festival every year, and he plans to sell his toys at the downtown Port Clinton Sunday Farmers Markets this summer.
“I’ve been making toys for about 40 years,” he said. “I made one toy for the kids, and the next thing, I was making toys to sell.”
Merry Birmelin of Cobblestone Confections in Mansfield is another faithful Arts and Crafts Festival vendor. She has been selling her homemade baked goods at the festival for several years.
Birmelin is a former traveling sales rep who left the business world for the slower pace of running a bakery in 2005. She started in her home and then purchased a commercial bakery in Mansfield where she made cookies, pies, breads and pastries that were also sold in Marblehead shops. She closed her commercial bakery and returned to home baking during the COVID shutdowns, but she still likes to return to the area to sell her baked goods at the Arts and Crafts Festival each year.
“I do well here. That’s why I keep coming back. My baked goods used to be at Fort Firelands and in a shop in downtown Marblehead, so people here know my name,” she said. “And I’m always happy to come back to the lake.”