Therese Sloane paints designs on a wooden cross on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.
Therese Sloane paints designs on a wooden cross on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington. (Jon Austria /The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — When Pete Douglass was 9 years old, his great-uncle taught him how to make wooden toys.

He has been making them ever since, but until about five years ago, it was just a hobby.

Then Douglass retired from his job as a truck driver and started a business with his wife, Jan, called Pete and Jan's Crafts. The business is based out of Vanderwagen, between Gallup and Zuni. Jan Douglass sells her sewn crafts while Pete Douglass sells the wooden toys.

The couple traveled to Farmington for the Christmas Crafts Fairs on Saturday. The fairs included more than 100 vendors divided between the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center and the Farmington Recreation Center.

Pete Douglass said his favorite part of creating toys is making them "come to life."

His booth on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center was filled with rocking horses, Army trucks and swords. Behind him, a train sat on the floor.

The Douglass' five foster children accompanied the couple to the fair.

"They do all my testing," Pete Douglass said with a laugh.

The Douglasses weren't the only people catering to children at Saturday's fairs.

Lovilla Grim sat near the entrance of the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center, behind a pile of quilts she made to use up extra fabric. Next to the door, she had various Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.

Grim has been making the dolls for around 55 years. As time has gone on, the patterns for the dolls have changed, but she still uses an older pattern -- one that includes an embroidered face, rather than painting the face onto the dolls.

"I thought maybe the paint would be toxic for the kids," Grim said.

But not all of the booths were geared toward kids.

Tully Hayes creates nameplates using sand in a traditional medicine man technique he learned from his step-brother, whose family had been doing it for generations.

A collection of handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls made by Lovilla Grim is laid out on a table for sale on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in
A collection of handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls made by Lovilla Grim is laid out on a table for sale on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

"When we travel, we find different colors of sand and rocks," he said.

He uses glue to hold the sand together, creating a thick paste. The sand is layered and the top layer is smooth.

Once he has that base done, he adds designs to the plate using ground stones and colored sand.

While Hayes uses a traditional Navajo method, another vendor, Therese Sloane, focused on a different culture.

Sloane, a former art teacher, painted a cross as she sat at her booth displaying her retablos, or devotional Spanish folk art.

While Sloane is not Hispanic, she picked up the craft from a fellow art teacher and later passed on her love of retablos to her students at Bloomfield High School and Sacred Heart Catholic School in Farmington.

Sloane said she attends the craft fair each year because it's an opportunity for her to get extra cash before Christmas at a low overhead cost.

Each year brings different success.

"It depends on what people are looking for that year," Sloane said.

After learning how to make the retablos, Sloane took a class in Durango, Colo., where she learned how to make the paintings using traditional pigments and rabbit-skin glue.

However, she said she still prefers acrylics, partly because of how difficult it is to find the traditional materials. The traditional pigments, she explained, were made using things like minerals, leaves and twigs, as well as cochineal, a bug found in Mexico that is used to make red dye.

Ryver Bluethunder-Wilson picks out a wooden Army helicopter, which was a gift from his grandmother, Arlene Pioche, on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior
Ryver Bluethunder-Wilson picks out a wooden Army helicopter, which was a gift from his grandmother, Arlene Pioche, on Saturday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

"It's real science and art put together," Sloane said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.