Yard art can just be used for decoration, or it can have a bigger purpose.
Jerry Cole, of Virginia, handcrafts steel yard art and home interior decor. But some are made to help drain rainwater into potted plants at one’s home.
Cole’s rain catchers and other designs won him Best New Artist Award at the 32nd annual Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday at Talleyrand Park.
He was one of more than 125 arts, crafts and food vendors from Pennsylvania, Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
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“This is something I started when I was 12 and still doing now,” Cole, 55, said. “It’s for love of the craft.”
Cole, owner of Jerry’s Authentic Metal or JAM Art, cuts and shapes the sheet metal, heats it in an oven, and then polishes and paints the metal.
Most of his work is butterflies on a stem with overlapping leaves.
The leaves, facing downward, allow the water to trickle off them in a certain direction.
If patrons get creative though, Cole said, his work can also function as a waterfall in a garden.
“Sure they’re decorative, but they’re also functional,” Cole said.
His inspiration came from drawing murals at people’s homes.
“It’s just an idea I get,” he said. “It started when I was about in my 20s drawing murals at the homes of rich people. Now I sometimes get an idea in the middle of the night and have to draw it down.”
Joann Lake, of Milesburg, purchased two of Cole’s rain catchers, but before she left Cole suggested that she put Rust-Oleum on the product before placing it outside, and to take it in for the winter.
“They’re made for the outside, but you still need to take care of it to keep it usable for years to come,” Cole said.
Other events at the two-day fest included children’s activities, live entertainment, youth artists and an awards ceremony.
Best Returning Artist was Tammy DeCastro, of Eleanor Grace Designs, and Best of Show was presented to Cliff Rigby of Rigby Wood, who also was last year’s Committee’s Choice Award Winner. Rigby creates cutting boards from wood he cut and then randomly glues the pieces back together, creating unique designs. The Committee’s Choice Award went to Karen Acciani of Tassels by Karen. She creates items such as ceiling fan pulls from vintage salt and pepper shakers by adding fringe.
Fair Director Debbie Hamilton said the event attracts about 8,000 people each year.
“We create it for the people and like to provide anything you can want at a fair,” Hamilton said. “It’s a yearlong process and we’re already thinking ahead to next year.”