Make This: ’Tis the season to learn the frugal art of bartering
Dec 01, 2013 | 5530 views |  0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Other than making money, the best part about participating in Winter Market this year was all the incredible craftspeople and artists I met.

My booth was sandwiched between Kathy D. Jones, a former Annistonian and current Fairhope resident who makes art and decorative items with a beachy touch, and Anita Stewart, a photographer and JSU adjunct faculty member who was selling pieces of mixed media art made from found items and photography. Across the way were the Cummings’ sisters — Lori and Leigh.

Quick digression: Lori, who makes beautiful pieces of blown glass, is teaching another fused glass jewelry workshop at the Berman Museum Dec. 8. Participants in this beginner-level program will handcraft a glass pendant, perfect for that special Christmas present. The workshop has limited slots available. The fee is $40 a person ($35 for museum members) for one pendant. Registration deadline is Dec. 4, call David Ford at 256-237-6162 or email

Leigh makes modern home decor and gifts, many of which have a dog theme. I ordered a canvas print from her, a quick conversation between my husband and daughter, two Thanksgivings ago:

Daddy: Do you know how to spell Ruby?

Ruby: R. U. B…

Daddy: Y?

Ruby: ‘Cause I’m a big girl!

And while I actually spent some money on the items ordered from Leigh, I acquired others with good old-fashioned bartering. From Diane Adams, whom I first met while admiring her Christmas wreaths at last year’s market, I got a black and white print burlap wreath, a nice decoration for my new front door, and in exchange she picked up several zipper bracelets to give to her granddaughters.

My booth neighbor Anita picked up a couple of pieces of zipper jewelry for her nieces (although I’ve since heard she’s been wearing them around town herself) and I picked out a piece of art featuring a Doonesbury comic strip from The Star, a small polished stone and a caterpillar cocoon, all mounted on a wood block covered with pieces of mica.

And last week, when my old wooden windows were replaced with new draft-free double hung vinyl windows, I offered the old ones to Alexandria woodworker Matthew Cromer, since I saw on the Cromer’s Creations Facebook page that he makes neat tables out of them. And that’s exactly what I told him I wanted in exchange for the more than 20 window sashes that he took away — a table.

Another bonus: I now pay that much less in dump fees, since it’s calculated by weight. The aluminum storm windows will be sold for scrap, so that’ll be nice, too. Add in the money we’ll save on our heating and cooling bills and these windows should pay for themselves pretty quickly!

I have several other bartering deals going on, whether it’s cooking or making specialty goods for my friends, or even trading babysitting hours. If you want to save some green this holiday season, instead of cash, try trading out your skills.

Features Editor Deirdre Long: 256-294-4152. On Twitter @star_features.

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