Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Southern Delicacies Original Creations Make Up Craft Show

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Southern Delicacies Original Creations Make Up Craft Show

Article excerpt

Lulu Schmidt is an artist who works in the medium of fish scales, preferably sea bass.

This helps to understand her opening line, offered every few minutes as people paused at her table of delicately fashioned flowers, examining petals that once covered fish.

"I start out with the garbage of the fishermen," she said, smiling. "Those are fish scales, ma'am."

Her fish-scale flowers were among the works of art displayed yesterday as the Christmas Made in the South craft show entered its second day.

Throughout the cavernous room at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, homespun artists like Schmidt stood back and watched, offering the occasional encouragement, as people with holiday lists inspected their handiwork.

One crafter turned duck and goose eggs into elegant Christmas ornaments.

Another created fabric pocketbooks in the shape of fish.

Inspiration struck Schmidt a few years ago as she watched fishermen clean their catch on a pier in Fort Walton Beach.

As the sun hit the translucent scales, tossed on the deck, Schmidt said they reminded her of flower petals.

Three years later, fish scales have become her primary medium. She turns the dried arrangements into bouquets, hair clips and brooches.

Her suppliers, the fishermen, take her finished artwork in exchange for the raw material.

She gets rid of the stink and slime by soaking the scales first in ammonia, then bleach. She adds color and shapes them individually by hand into a variety of flower forms. A single rose will take three hours and at least 150 fish scales. She will sell a single flower for $8.

Her fish-scale garden includes roses, daisies, carnations, jasmine, mums, orchids, ginger, lilies, primroses and snapdragons.

"It's so rewarding," she said. "You get something out of nothing. You make something beautiful out of garbage."

Twelve years ago, Denise Van Brunt turned an inherited garden in Tallahassee into a cottage industry. She tired of giving away her flowers and began drying, arranging and selling them as potpourri designs.

One of her more unusual creations, a line of potpourri frosted cakes and ice cream sundaes, drew curious sniffs throughout the afternoon. …

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