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December 12, 2017
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Handmade for the holidays

Valerie Taggart's whimsical holiday ornaments are all hand painted and made from dried gourds.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

By Jonathan Fox

UPPER DELAWARE RIVER VALLEY — The Catskills and Upper Delaware River Valley have long been a Mecca for artistic expression. Painters, sculptors, photographers and writers have flocked to the region for decades, drawing inspiration from the clean air, stunning vistas and peaceful countryside that inspires. Visitors and tourists continue to explore the area and often seek unique gifts for themselves and loved ones as they scour the galleries, shops and studios of the artists who have settled here to practice their craft.

Among those who have chosen to make the mountains their home are potters Jill Weiner ( and Carolyn Duke, ( who put their heads together almost 10 years a go and created “Handmade for the Holidays,” a group effort that now encompasses more than 30 local artists and businesses that create one-of-a-kind items and gather at Duke’s studio in Roscoe, NY to display their wares and mingle with the community for a few weekends each holiday season, where visitors can share a cup of warm cheer, some convivial conversation and holiday shopping.

Duke explains that “In an ongoing effort to connect with the community,” the seasonal show selects “a different not-for-profit organization every year [to promote], and a portion of the proceeds goes to that deserving group. This year, a percentage of every sale will benefit [NPR affiliate] WJFF.” Interspersed with the watercolors, jewelry ( and Duke’s pinch-pots, local businesses from New York and Pennsylvania are also represented.

Holiday cards produced in Jeffersonville, NY ( are displayed alongside honey, dipping sauces and pancake mix (, while organic coffee ( and Jane Roth’s hand-knit hats and scarves occupy some space in Duke’s beautiful showroom nestled in the mountains. Jill Weiner’s whimsical creations can be purchased as well, and many of the beautiful objects are available throughout the year, although select items are added each winter for those seeking a special gift.