The Bakers are excited about this spring’s Blooming Arts Festival and appreciate the opportunity for their works to be highlighted. “The art festivals are great,” Paul Baker said. “It gives local artists a venue to showcase their business and meet people. It also helps the Museum Center which, in turn, helps the community,” he said.
Working as an engineer, Paul said he was always interested in machinery and designed and built his own machines from scratch. Thinking creatively, he said he likes building things that are decorative as well as useful. His first piece was a custom quilt block derived from the influence of the underground railroad during slavery which provided the slaves with information and symbols. He and his wife, Judy, began to work as a team in which he would router the quilt blocks at home and she would later paint them. They became so popular that as well as being sold locally, they can also be purchased in the large quilting store, Memaw’s Thimble, in Knoxville.
In recent years, one of the most popular sell-outs at the Museum Center’s art festivals have became trivets for crock pots, casserole dishes and other unique cookware. The couple specializes in making several different sizes in many types of wood. Remembering a previous art festival, Paul laughs about the time they sold out and stayed up during the night making their popular trivets to be sold during the next two days.
Not only crafty in quilt blocks and trivets, the Bakers take special custom orders for building hanging organized boxes for households which have become other popular pieces for selling.
The Museum Center at Five Points’ gift store has all of the Bakers’ items for purchase as well as a CD of Judy’s storytelling, “Stories From Home.” After attending a storytelling guild meeting a few years ago, she now travels throughout the region sharing her passion for telling stories to audiences of all ages. She has performed in schools, churches, festivals, and other venues.
The Bakers are among the more than 30 local artists, authors, and craftsmen who will be featured at the Museum Center’s BLOOMING Arts Festival.
The event begins with the preview party April 26 from 5 to 8 p.m. which is free to all Museum Center members. Others can purchase tickets for $10, which provides food and drink and the advantage to buy items first.
The event continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is free to the public.