Bill Skidmore, a lawyer for the Department of Commerce and a toy maker for fun, sat behind a table filled with log houses, doll house tables, trains, cars and trucks. All were made of wood - pine, oak, walnut and maple.
Skidmore, who figures he makes about 50 cents an hour at his hobby and bases his prices on time spend and cost of materials, was exhibiting his work at the Capitol Hill Day School's First Annual Crafts Fair held recently at Eastern Market.
Jeffrey Gordon, a first grader at the Capitol Hill Day School, went home with a $6 dump truck that Skidmore had made. Another fair-goer bought Skidmore's most expensive toy - a six-car freight train for $65.
"He said he was going to put it on his mantle. He almost apologized for buying it. He felt it really belonged to me," said Skidmore.
Skidmore was one of 26 exhibitors who set up displays May 7 at the north end of the market at 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue. Leather sandals, metal mobiles, wooden toys, stained-glass lampshades and other handmade items lured several hundred buyers and browsers to the fair, which netted about $1,000 for the school's scholarship fund. Each exhibitor paid $15 and donated 20 per cent of receipts after the first $100.
"Let's go to Narragansett Leathers first," said Ann Allen of 629 C St. NE, steering her children past the balloon sellers and the toy maker. Narragansett Leathers used to be on 7th Street, up the street from the Eastern Market but is now localed in Damariscotta, Maine.
Local residents obviously missed the establishment and crowded around the display table piled with handbags, dog leashes, even a leather teddy bear ($25). Sandals were the most popular item.
Joe Crain of Columbia, Md., peeled off his socks and proprietor Alan McKinnon traced Crain's foot on a sheet of paper. "They'll be ready in two or three weeks," said McKinnon.
Bob Zimmerman stood outside the building in the rain, showing his handmade wood and canvas canoe to throngs of envious admirers. "It's pretty enough to use as a couch in your living room," said Jeb Carney of 624 Constitution Ave. NE. Carney pronounced the price of the canoe - $700 - "very reasonable."
Zimmerman started building canoes about two years ago, when he moved from Washington, D.C., to Washington, Conn. He spends about 50 hours on each canoe. Usually he works alone, but some jobs - like steaming and bending the ribs - require help. Zimmerman gets help from his wife, Christine, a potter who also exhibited at the fair.
"He helps me, too," said Christine Zimmerman. "We built my kiln together, and he built this display." On the display shelves were hanging planters and pots of various sizes, all in earth colors and many imprinted with leaves and plants.
"Once we moved out, we were very influenced by nature," she explained. "I roll out clay like pie crust and then roll things like plants and weeds into it."
"I guess I'm the only mommy at the school who's exhibiting here," said weaver Jane Kinzler. Her daughter, Samantha, attends kindergarten at Capitol Hill Day School. Kinzler has a loom in the basement of her town-house in Southwest Washington and designs and weaves wall hangings, pillow covers, ponchos, and toy elephants.
"Have people bought any more, Mommy?" asked Samantha, coming in from the refresment area eating a doughnut.
"No," answered her father, Peter Kinzler. "But it's all right.You can keep on eating."
Doughnuts, coffee, cider, cheese and crackers, box lunches, ice cream and frozen yogurt were sold outside the building by two local establishments - the Capitol Hill Wine and Cheese Shop and the Ice Cream Lobby. Tables and chairs, arranged in the style of an outdoor cafe, were constantly occupied in spite of persistent rain. The prudent held umbrellas over their tables; others just got wet.