COLUMBIA — Kris and Al Clement look over the pottery in their tent with expressions of joy and satisfaction. The pair look away to talk with customers and play with a German shepherd puppy passing by, but they never stop smiling.
Art in the Park held its 55th annual festival at Stephens Lake Park this weekend. This year's festival features 110 artists who work in ceramics, fibers, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, drawing, prints and digital, photo, sculpture and wood, according to the Art in the Park website.
Hundreds of people were exploring the different artist booths Saturday morning. One of those booths was home to the Clements.
They said they have been creating and selling their own pottery for 20 years. It all started when Kris Clement took a continuing adult education class at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.
"I didn't learn anything in the class," Kris Clement said. "But it was my first time touching clay. After that, I met a potter who could really teach."
The Clements moved from hobbyist potters to professionals quickly and started showing their work within a year. Al Clement said they attend 30 to 35 shows a year, traveling across the eastern half of the U.S. from Springfield, where their home and studio are located. Al Clement said Shreveport, La., is one of his favorite shows, and Kris Clement named Madison, Wis., as one of her favorites, but they both agreed Art in the Park is one of the best places to show their work.
"Diana (Moxon) does a phenomenal job of putting this on," Kris Clement said. "And the community here is great. People really come out to support the arts."
Al Clement said they work with 12 tons of clay a year in their studio. The result is handcrafted dishware, mugs and bread pots, all made to be used, not just for display. Each piece the Clements sell comes with a card explaining how to take care of the pottery, but they all end with the same word — enjoy.
Charity Fedde, a jewelry maker from Wildwood, said she also wants her customers to appreciate their purchases.
"I really prefer doing the shows," Fedde said. "That way I can meet the person buying my jewelry and make sure it's going to a good home. They're all like my babies."
Fedde said she shows her jewelry about 10 to 12 times each year in Missouri, Iowa and the Chicago area. She also sells pieces on Etsy, a website where people can buy and sell handmade or vintage products, and on her own website.
Fedde said she started making jewelry about 13 years ago when her daughter, Anna, got a jewelry making set. She creates all of her pieces by hand and gets much of the material from scrap yards or from things she finds while on walks. She said she also incorporates antique beads she buys while traveling with her husband.
"I had a bluebird house which inspired the birds," Fedde said, gesturing to a necklace with tiny bluebirds adorning it. "I'll start with a story and I'll build around it. If I can't find something, I'll make it."
Fedde's pieces also come with a tag, including the name of the piece, the materials it is made from and the inspiration for the jewelry. Fedde said her inspiration comes from many places, sometimes coming to her while she sleeps. She pointed out some of her pieces, explaining how the materials inside, such as mustard seeds, related to the words stamped on the outside, such as joy or faith.
"Each one has its own, different meaning," Fedde said. "Everything is symbolic for me."
The festival will also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.