November 14 – A pair of folk art sheep

This is another in my series of posts discussing the items that appear in the photo in the heading of this blog. After the stick kachina doll and the orange salt shaker, we now move on to the pair of folk art sheep.

Obviously, I collect sheep; and I have a lot more than those that appear in the above photo. That’s just one shelf. This pair I purchased, I believe, about five years ago at a local folk art fair. I like either really realistic-looking sheep or non-cute folk art sheep (nothing nursery-like with eyelashes!), so this pair caught my attention immediately. They’re handmade in the style of German nativity scene sheep that now cost an arm and a leg at antique malls and shows. The standing sheep has a rusty tin star tied around his neck, which adds a nice Americana primitive touch.

This  folk art fair was a nationally sponsored show held each spring and fall at the Sharonville Convention Center just outside of Cincinnati. I really loved that show and attended each season, if I could. Usually I made plans to go on Friday evening, by myself, arriving just after the doors opened around 5 o’clock.

It was rare for me to leave the show without having purchased something, whether for myself or as a gift. For myself, I bought various sheep, needlework supplies and kits (I began rug hooking by purchasing a kit for making folk art hooked ornaments), a loomed throw rug, wax figures and ornaments shaped in old chocolate molds, and other items I can’t even remember. I hovered around certain artists’ displays, mooning over paintings or prints I would love to have purchased but couldn’t really afford, returning every season to look again and again. I kind of regret a couple of purchases I never made.

The last time I attended one of the fairs , the number of vendors was way down. Finally I saw a notice that the folk art fair would no longer be booked at the Sharonville Convention Center , and as far as I know no other community staged it, either. Maybe online sales opportunities whittled away at attendance, and by now hefty gas prices and the tanking economy might have killed it anyhow.

But I really miss attending that show. Yes, I can go online and look for folk art sheep. But it’s not the same as wandering up and down the aisles and having a pair of tiny faces like the ones above peeking at me from a shelf, ingratiatingly suggesting I should adopt them and take them home.

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