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“Nona’s Painted Pieces”
Written by Abigail Clifford, Correspondent

            Local folk artist Nancy Stauffer, brightens the room with a smile as she poses with her displayed Pennsylvania Dutch folk artwork located in an intimate corner

titled "Nona's Painted Pieces" at The Swamp Door Antiques & Curiosities in Gilbertsville.

            Forty years ago, Stauffer began attending painting classes at Steph's Folk Art Studio in Lancaster County to help aid her self-taught journey, a mere hobby during her hair-dressing career.

            Now retired, Stauffer, also known as Nona by her three grandchildren, has created thousands of folk art pieces in the last 20 years.

            "Painting these items creates a lot of gratification; I like to see people smiling when they purchase my art," stated Stauffer, member of the Reading-Berks Craftsman Guild and Society of Decorative Painters.

            Always having a creative eye, Stauffer was especially drawn to the primitive design and style of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, which uses a combination of hand-painted artwork of vibrant colors and symmetry.

            "I think the inspiration for folk art comes from everyday objects and traditional, old-time images; some of the images are primitive and rustic, which creates a very 

personable touch to folk art," stated by Lisa Romero, owner of The Swamp Door Antiques & Curiosities.

            Relevant to our area, Pennsylvania Dutch folk art is most commonly depicted through hex signs. According to Stauffer, each folk artist has their own individual, unique twist on the original artistry design.

            "I tend to like doing children's items, such as small tables and toy boxes; I also especially like to paint scenes with people in them," stated Stauffer.

            With the help of her husband Laverne Stauffer, the couple recently began up-cycling diminished items in hopes of restoration. Stauffer's work ranges from up-cycled desks and slant-top chests to simple cake tins and watering cans.

            Operation for up-cycling items and design sessions all occur in the Stauffer's own personal garage studio.

            Stauffer's biggest and latest achievement includes a summer project consisting of fixing and designing a Christmas themed two-person sleigh depicting scenes of winter's past for The Swamp Door Antiques & Curiosities.

            Romero has been working with Stauffer since the antique store opened in 2015 and knew she would be the perfect designer for the sleigh's desired nostalgic, folk Christmas theme.

            "She has been with us from the very beginning, she was one of our first vendors; we love her work," stated Romero.

            After her husband restored the once battered sleigh, the commission took Stauffer a week to complete, spending approximately eight hours a day on each side.

            Stauffer's re-designed sleigh is a token for the community and a platform for her artwork, a goal that Romero was happy to help her accomplish.

            "This has been an exciting, fun project," Stauffer says. "And it's been great getting so much wonderful feedback from the community. But for me, I'm just thrilled to know this isn't simply a Christmas decoration…. It's a gift to the people who live here. I love that."

            Stauffer credits the inspiration for the sleigh design to her fellow folk artists, Helan Barrick and Jo Sonja Jansen.

            The sleigh will be displayed outside of The Swamp Door Antiques & Curiosities every year from Thanksgiving through early January.  Romero and Stauffer encourage the community to make the wistful sleigh display a Christmas photo-destination this holiday.

            "We have had people offering to buy the sleigh, but we do have to be gentle saying that it is a commissioned art piece and that if they are interested in the work to contact Stauffer," stated Romero.

            Romero plans on preserving and donating the valuable community art piece to the Boyertown Auto Museum in due time.

            "I love to create; it is quite overwhelming to think that my artwork can be passed on, my pieces are like my children," stated Stauffer.

            Stauffer says she will continue to sell her items through The Swamp Door Antiques & Curiosities. For more information, you can contact Stauffer through Facebook on "Nona's Painted Pieces" 





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