Street fair sees new attractions, cloudy skies and cool weather

Published 11:23 pm Saturday, April 5, 2008

The biannual Picayune Street Fair saw large crowds despite the cloudy skies and threat of rain on Saturday morning, as well as several new booths and attractions.

On East Canal Street, Marianne Robinson was enjoying her first time as a vendor at the Picayune Street Fair, selling hand-painted pictures and wooden letters for children’s rooms.

Robinson, who lives north of D’Iberville, said she has done craft shows for over 20 years, but had just about stopped until her great-grandchild was born. Once she became a great-grandmother, she said her children started encouraging her to start making crafts again for the baby.

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“They begged me for years to stop doing crafts and get a real job, and once I got a real job, they told me to start selling crafts again,” Robinson said.

Robinson, whose father was an artist for Hanna-Barbera, said she has been drawing all her life, and decided to start making crafts for children. She hand-paints the pictures on canvas using various patterns she has collected over the years. The letters are carved out of wood, and Robinson free-hands the pictures onto the letters.

Patti Lynn of Lafitte, La., was another first-time vendor at the fair on West Canal Street, selling hand-painted glasswares.

Lynn said she has been painting the various salt and pepper shakers, vases, soap bottles and other glass items for about five years. She heard about the street fair from a friend of hers who had been here before.

“I was working for a construction company and just stayed stressed. I knew there was something else out there that I could do, so one day I got up with a paintbrush in my hand,” Lynn said.

Lynn says her secret to her beautiful crafts is in the type of paint she uses, which is permanent on the glass items she paints.

“I’ve never had art classes. I’m self-taught,” Lynn said.

Of course, not all vendors were first-timers. Rosie Mistretta says this is her fifth year coming to the fair, and loves to come here.

Mistretta, who was displaced from St. Bernard Parish, La., to Bay St. Louis, makes handmade wreaths and birdhouses, and says she got her start because of the high prices of similar work she has seen.

“I was in a store one day and saw (a birdhouse) I liked, and it just cost way too much, so I decided I could do it,” Mistretta said.

Mistretta has been making the birdhouses and wreaths for approximately 15 years, and says she doesn’t use patterns other than ones she sees in stores. The amount of time it takes her to make a birdhouse depends on how complicated the birdhouse is, she says. Her birdhouses range in size from a small feeder, which takes a matter of a few minutes to make, to several stories high.

“I have one that I’m bringing tomorrow that is about five feet tall, and has several holes and levels for many birds. It took me a long time to make that one,” Mistretta said.