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Local Artisans Fill Crafts Fair
Several Riverbank artisans were among those selling Christmas gift items at the local arts and crafts fair on Saturday.

Sandy Blagg, who retired after 30 years working in finance at Riverbank City Hall, was offering knitted scarves, hats and gloves and silver jewelry she made herself.

"I've been knitting for about 30 years. I knit while I'm watching television," she said. "It started when I was working in Alaska years ago. It was so cold and I had nothing to do in the evenings. I came across a yarn shop in Anchorage."

The jewelry work she began after retiring from City Hall.

"I use torches, both propane and oxy acetylene. I love using the torch," she said. "And I cut the stones and polish them and fire glass in a kiln."

Blagg started the jewelry making after taking a class at Modesto Junior College. The silver is all sterling and an item's sale price depends on how much silver it contains and the intricacy of the work. All the joints have to be soldered one by one and she can't watch television while doing that.

Across the way at the crafts fair, Carolyn Coons sat behind a display of handmade soaps and bath products.

The soap is made from beef tallow rendered down, mixed with shea and avocado butter and aloe and coconut oil, and then scented with fragrances, according to Coons.

She also had on display "marshmallow shooters" made by her 12-year-old grandson Jonathan Coons since his visit to a Nevada crafts fair.

Made of plastic pipe in his father's garage, the shooters are toy guns through which the holder can propel marshmallows with a puff of breath. Not quite as dangerous as a paintball pistol or an aborigine's poison dart gun, they were selling better than her soap.

"Kinder, gentler and more tasty than a paintball," said the advertisement.

Florine Smith was selling novelty table lamps for that special meal. They featured lamp shades made of vellum set over Riverbank Cheese & Wine Expo glasses equipped with a small candle.

At NVme Designs next door, Maria Torres of Oakdale sat with her daughter Norma Torres-Manriquez, who works at Riverbank's City Hall and displayed necklaces of glass beads and semi precious stones she puts together in her spare time. It helps supplement her income since Hershey's laid her off when that company moved its Oakdale plant to Mexico two years ago.