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Henry County Arts & Craft Guild

Seamstress Strickler to exhibit her handbags and purses at Guild show

She creates her fashionable items
out of recycled materials

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (September 2016) – Repurposing materials that others might be tempted to discard has become the next step on Lois Strickler’s artistic journey. Using her sewing skills, she creates handbags and purses that are as useful as they are creative.
Strickler was inspired by a South Carolina artist to craft her own unique handbags. Employing an eco-friendly approach, “I wanted to do it with recycled materials, unlike what she does using mostly new materials.”
She begins each project by using reclaimed materials such as leather, wool and denim. “These materials are paired with new fabrics, which I have often been given or found ready to be discarded by someone,” said Strickler, 63.
Sewing in some capacity or another throughout her adult life, Strickler said this was “just a new direction for those skills.” She has been crafting these distinctive purses and handbags for the last year and a half.

Photo provided

Lois Strickler displays a handbag she made.

Strickler and her husband moved to Kentucky from New Jersey and now live in Henry County. She recently joined the Henry County Arts & Craft Guild because she “wanted to be able to meet some of my neighbors here and be a part of the arts and crafts folks who live here also.
Even though she is new to the group, she found members to be “a diverse group of people, each with his or her own journey or story to tell.” Like Strickler, many of the members will be exhibiting their work from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at the 17th annual Henry County Arts Show, sponsored by the Henry County Arts & Craft Guild.
The event will be held at the Henry County Fairgrounds on Hwy. 421 in New Castle. “We have a wide variety of things people do,” said Guild president Malissa Beatty.
Many different types of media are represented in the Guild. The exhibit will showcase jewelry, painted gourds, wooden toys, oil paintings, furniture, fiber artists, dolls, candles, needlework, leatherwork and iron-wrought items.
Only artists who craft high quality items are juried into the Guild. “We won’t accept artwork unless it’s very good work,” said Beatty.
Fiber art has always been Strickler’s main interest.  When younger, she landed a sewing job working for a decorator, which she eventually had to quit to attend the Philadelphia College of Art.
Although she is new to this art form, the Henry County Arts Show will be her second art show. She said she hopes to attend more in the future, adding,
“At this point I would consider this a hobby moving toward a part time job. I have learned that marketing my product is as time consuming as creating it.”
Strickler is a member of the Oldham County Arts Association and has some of her work on display in Gallery 104 in La Grange, Ky. “I am hoping to interest people in buying handbags made from materials that might have ended up in a landfill and now have been repurposed into something lovely and useful again.”
Another talented seamstress from Oldham County, Angela Morris, will also be participating in the Henry County Arts Show. Morris just recently rejoined the Guild, having to take a break when “life got too busy,” she said.
“I do a lot of sewing,” said Morris, 70. “I’ve been sewing all my life, since I was 7 years old.”
Her mother and grandmother shared tips with her. And she was a member of 4-H and took Home Economics in high school to better her sewing skills. She also attended Western Kentucky University for two years and majored in Home Economics.
Although she sewed mostly for friends, her reputation grew. At the arts show, she will have a variety of work on display, including pillows, table runners, aprons and small novelty gifts.
Morris, who lives in Centerfield, Ky., also does machine embroidery.
She said of the guild, “It’s a very good guild. They do a lot. There are a lot of talented people in the guild.”
Morris has earned a name as an expert wedding dress seamstress. “I’ve done several, starting with my own 50 years ago,” she said. She also stitches dresses for prom, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and flower girls.  
In addition to belonging to the Henry County Arts & Craft Guild, she is a member of the Oldham County Homemakers and is a Master Clothing volunteer for the University of Kentucky, through the Oldham County Cooperative Extension Office. Morris stays busy teaching classes at the Extension Office in Oldham County.
“We are on a nine-month schedule. I teach adults and a few younger 4-H students.”

• For more information about the Henry County Art Show, contact Malissa Beatty at (502) 220-8968 or email: malissa.beatty@att.net Or call Sharon Silvers at (502) 750-0782.

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