The premier juried craft show in Upper Bucks County
The premier juried craft show in Upper Bucks County
Remember those potholder craft-kits that were popular when you were a kid? Can you imagine how such a kit would kindle a lifelong passion for creating? That is the case with our 2022 Kringle Featured Artist, Fran Bast! As I conversed with her by phone from her place in Florida, I asked the typical journalistic question; “When did you start crafting?” The answer was surprising! “I was five years old.” “I made so many potholders that I gave them as gifts to all of my relatives at Christmas, - and it was a big family!”
At barely 5 feet, Fran Bast, our littlest Kringle Elf, (our affectionate moniker for Kringle production teammate) is also a gifted craft vendor, Haycock Historical Society member and a powerhouse of energy. She has been with Kringle since the first show in the private home of member, Pat DeWald in 2003. Fran has a natural talent for blending color and design. It has grown along with her sales over the years.
Fran’s early life was spent in Clarks Summit, where she regularly visited her grandparents’ dairy farm nearby. She learned how to crochet from that grandmother and knit from the other. She later moved to Bath in 1973, and Wescosville in the early 1980’s. As a young adult, she would crochet baby outfits and blankets for her friends who were having babies. Along the way, she learned crewel, cross stitch, and dry-floral arranging. One of Fran’s first ventures into selling her work was creating pressed-floral art, using dried and flattened petals, and arranging them in the shapes of bouquets then gluing them onto silk cloth, preserved under convex glass frames.
These she sold at local craft shows. When silk flowers became popular, she expanded her expertise into silk floral arranging, creating beautiful wreaths, swags, and centerpieces.
By her mid-thirtys, then the mother of two small children, she remarried and became part of a blended family of seven and moved to Emmaus, where she lived for 16 years, raising the brood with husband, Roger. The five kids were about the same age and all got along well. For them, there was always someone to play with.
About that time, she recalls an early work experience, employed by a home accent designer. The job was recreating her boss’s designs again and again to fill orders for the big box retailer, Boscov’s. She grew tired of the repetition and yearned to do her own creations and sell them herself. She, along with a handful of like-minded friends, started and operated a successful craft show in a local school gymnasium for many years until she moved to Haycock township. Roger had a home in the Poconos and the family vacationed there regularly, but it was a bit far from the relatives and friends they knew. The couple decided to build a home of their own and began the search for suitable building sites. Since they both loved the outdoors and fishing, Roger loved to hunt, and Nockamixon State Park was close to one of the first open lots in a new subdivision called Nockamixon Chase, they thought it the perfect choice. Fran remembers her house was being built during the worst tragedy to happen on American soil, 9-11, sad for all the lost lives but glad to be living in the country.
I asked her how the very popular barnwood Santa figurines came about. One day, while visiting her grandparents’ farm, she discovered a gnarled old piece of wood sticking out of the ground. She pulled it up, remembering having seen décor made from found objects. This piece of wood was special. She could instantly envision a Santa face in it, with a long, flowing burgundy gown. She took the weathered board home, washed it and painted it to resemble a rustic Santa. Everyone who saw it loved the figurine and asked where she bought it. She kept that original piece and laughingly adds that it will be part of her children’s inheritance! That Santa was the first of many! Soon she was collecting old barnwood from felled sheds and dilapidated barns and making barnwood Santa figures to sell in all different shapes and sizes. The biggest ever is 7’ and it sits in her home. She’s made other large barnwood figures for gift shops as entryway greeters. The antique burgundy figures fit with any décor, whether traditional or contemporary. Each is unique and is sure to elicit a smile from onlookers. She reflects though that as people began to discover the value of their old, weathered wood for interior design purposes, it has become more difficult to scavenge but she continues to be on the look-out, sometimes even buying the old wooden boards.
It was shortly after Fran’s move to Haycock, serendipitously, that Haycock Historical Society was incorporated in 2003 and began hosting Kringle, which is now in its 19th year. Fran was there from the beginning, not only as a participating artisan, but also helping with set-up for days before the show. She seemed to innately know how to make the surroundings beautiful and appealing to the shoppers and remains an asset to the team today. Kringle has run continuously each December for all but one year, 2020 -when the Covid 19 Pandemic limited travelling and gathering in large groups. Visitors never tire of her whimsical figures, and each year her sales get better. That speaks volumes! This diminutive Elf is a veritable dynamo. She is a people-person and truly enjoys the comradery of the group of workers as well as interacting with the customer who have come to know her. Recognizing her talent and creativity as our featured artist is our long over-due honor.
Nowadays, Fran divides her time between the couple’s home in Florida and the one in Haycock township. Even while in Florida, she is busy finding things to make those Santa figures from. Florida is abundant with palm trees that shed seed pods, particularly from the giant Queen palm and the smaller Pindo palm trees. She has collected those and painted both varieties in the likeness of the jolly, white-bearded symbol of Christmas.
Always looking for new ways to be creative, recently Fran has added jewelry-making to her list of talents. For many years, she has been collecting interesting semi-precious stones and beautiful beads. She brings a complete line of wire-wrapped pendants and bracelets to Kringle. At this life juncture she is a young grandmother of 7 and dealing with Arthritis. Working with smaller pieces seems like a natural fit.
So it is true! Great things DO come in small packages! You will see our littlest Elf in person on December 2nd, 3rd, and 4th this year at Kringle, along with the fabulous works of over 40 juried artists. This year promises to be the best yet!
Kringle Christmas Shoppe
1014 Old Bethlehem Road, Quakertown PA. 18951
The Haycock Historical Society
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