By Brandon Martin
Local vendors had an opportunity to share their passions with the community at “Holidays at the Market” on Dec. 4, at the Farmer’s Market on W. Main Street in Martinsville.
Pandemic precautions were in place for the event that featured handmade soaps, woodwork, homemade baked goods, and holiday decor.
Darci Foley, owner of Betty Ruth Boutique, used the market as an opportunity to share her holiday art with the community.
“It started as a hobby because I was at home with a lot of spare time because of COVID and it’s just kind of gone from there,” Foley said. “I’ve always liked art ever since I was little. I went to college for Art Education for a while, but I switched majors. It’s nice to get back into it.”
The boutique offers an array of barn quilts, custom costume designs, and handmade arts and crafts. Foley said her business has grown a lot over the last year from its humble beginnings.
“I started through word-of-mouth. I did one for myself and then my family,” she said. From there “we started posting pictures on social media and people started asking for their own.”
After some self-promotion online, Foley was given an extra push from those that enjoyed her work.
“Then one of my friends gave me the idea of selling them, and she referred some of her friends to me. Eventually, I was asked to do a class on how to make the boards,” she said. “It started to look more like a business opportunity from there, so I set up a Facebook page and started looking for craft fairs coming up over Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
One of the most important aspects of a business is its name, and Foley said it didn’t take long to come up with Betty Ruth Boutique.
“It’s named after my grandmother. She was a big inspiration for me,” Foley said. “She just really pushed and motivated me because she was a very frugal person. She didn’t believe in going out and buying a bunch of stuff that you could sit down and make yourself.”
Foley retains fond memories with her grandmother.
“She loved to paint and do crafts,” she said. “When I was little, she drove me to all kinds of art classes. She would go and take classes and we’d sit down and paint together to Bob Ross videos. I’ve taken the things that she loved and put my own kind of spin on it in honor of her and everything that she taught me.”
Foley said she is “really happy” that her business helps maintain the close bond with her grandmother.
“It’s really important to me to be able to continue my art in her name,” she added. “She passed away last October, so this is a nice way of keeping her memory and her spirit going.”
With the holidays approaching, Foley said she has been focusing her art to meet the theme.
“People like to decorate for Christmas, and it’s been popular, so these designs are really well received,” she said.
Like most artists, Foley has her own process.
“I turn to Google for inspiration on some. For others, I just kind of think about what looks good before sitting down with graph paper and drawing it out from there,” she said. “Everything starts with a blueprint. I take my graph paper and think about what I want it to look like versus what I’ve googled or what I’ve come up with in my head. Then, using a ruler, measure it out on the graph paper. Each square on here lines up with a measurement on the board.”
Forrest Forschmiedt, proprietor of Grattan Creek Handcrafted Artisan Soaps and Gifts, was among the vendors displaying his art.
“I’ve got all kinds of handcrafted wood stuff and other gifts like artisan soaps. I’ve been working with wood ever since I was a kid,” Forschmiedt said.
“This is how far we had to come to get away from the craziness of Seattle,” he said. “I set up an actual wood shop when I moved to Martinsville a couple of years ago. I’ve wanted to do this kind of stuff for a long time. By moving out here, I finally had enough room to put a workshop together. I’ve been doing soap at farmers markets for a few years, and after talking about it with my wife she encouraged me to spend the money, have fun and live the dream.”
Forschmiedt jokingly said he suspects his wife also may have had an ulterior motive.
“I think her secret motive was to get me out of the house because she works from home,” he said, chuckling.
His wooden display included bowls, kitchen utensils, table decorations and tree ornaments.
“I haven’t really gotten any customer requests at this point, but I’d like to work with somebody,” he said. “I search on the internet for some ideas. There are forums for woodworkers where you can find out what sells. I don’t want to make a bunch of stuff that people won’t use.”
Forschmiedt said that he spends approximately 4-6 hours on any given day whittling away in his woodshop, usually needing a break after “standing on the concrete floor” for so long.
“The tool that I use for just about everything is the bandsaw,” he said. “The first thing that I have to do is chainsaw or bandsaw the wood so that I can cut it up into usable chunks.”
Most of the wood he uses is locally sourced.
“A lot of the wood is hickory that I found in my backyard,” he said, adding that he has also used “oak from a guy up the street” and “some maple from somebody else’s tree.
“Some of the wood I have to buy, depending on what I’m trying to do,” he said. “For instance, the spatulas are made from South American Bloodwood. I bought that at a hardware store down in Mayodan,” N.C.