Shopping abounds at Toad Market

Published Monday, May 05, 2008

As the famed toad races went on in the background, shoppers perused the many booths in the Toad Market at the 2008 Toad Suck Daze. From home decor to jewelry to clothing and hats, the Toad Market had something to offer to almost everyone.

Cyndi Minister, of Conway, sat at her booth, The Twisted Purl, spinning her own yarn. She said she began spinning after she gave birth to two boys 15 months apart and "needed the therapy." She said she began knitting and fell in love with yarn. While on a visit to Vermont, she saw a large skein of hand-painted boucle yarn, which is a yarn with loops in it, and she wanted to learn how to paint her own. She went to Massachusetts to learn the craft, and then she learned hand spinning. Sometimes she works with wool right off the sheep, she said. At her booth she had hand-spun, hand-painted yarn, as well as hand-painted silk scarves and sarongs.

Carolyn King, of Sherwood, runs B and C Sterling Silver Jewelry. She has attended Toad Suck Daze for eight or nine years, she said. Her partner makes much of their inventory by hand, although they buy some, she said.

Visit Spotted for 2008 Toad Suck Daze photos.

"Every year we try to bring out the new fashion," she said. "We do a lot of (festivals) and (Toad Suck Daze is) very well-organized. The people in Conway are very nice. And the weather is just wonderful."

Jerry Starkweather of Sherwood owns the Personalized Rice Necklaces booth. He said he uses a special pen to write up to two names on a grain of rice often best friends, boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife, he said. The customer chooses a tiny bottle for the grain of rice to go in, and the bottle goes on a necklace, which the customer also chooses, Starkweather said.

Kathi and Harold Allen of Hawkins, Texas, are the owners of H and K Art Glass. Making their first appearance at Toad Suck Daze this year, they brought a selection of merchandise made from recycled bottles.

Kathi Allen said she melts the bottles in a kiln and uses different methods to make them into the finished pieces. She had candle holders made of flattened wine bottles, wind chimes made of slices of melted bottles, and spoon rests made of flattened Coke bottles. She was also selling cheese trays made of flattened bottles.

"Years ago I saw a Coke bottle wind chime," she said. "I researched and asked questions. My husband bought two kilns for me. I did it by trial and error. The cheese trays have been around a long time, but the candle holders are my design."

In a booth decorated in a pink theme, Julianna England of Searcy ran Faithful Gurlz. Her family recently moved to Searcy from California, and her husband has been deployed to Iraq, she said. She takes her business to a lot of conventions and Christian concerts, she said. She had bracelets with scriptures on them, "support our troops" merchandise as well as breast cancer awareness and Mother's Day items.

Another first-time merchant was Pia Algor of Denver Colo., with Bel Cappelli, which means "Beautiful Hat" in Italian. She and her husband run the business, which has no store but only goes to shows. She said the hats are high-quality ones for men, women and children that customers won't find everywhere.

"My hats will be here 20 years from now," she said. "We'll be back next year with the new hats."

Chris Massingill of Conway makes functional ceramics. Her pieces include items such as mugs and small plates. She earned a degree in ceramics at the University of Central Arkansas four years ago but has only recently begun making enough ceramics to sell. She is a teacher at Simon Intermediate School. She said her first year at Toad Suck Daze has gone well.

Carl Queen of Moore, Okla., is the owner of Carl Queen Artistry in Leather. He creates artwork out of airbrushed suede. Among the framed pieces on display at his booth were a pool hall, a train and a Ford emblem.

"We do a lot of guitars, cars, gas pumps," he said.

He has created artwork for a living since 1972 and has been doing airbrushed leather for about 20 years, he said. He goes to about seven or eight shows a year, which is all the work he can produce in a year, he added.

"Some customers told us this was a fun show to do. We'd never been to Conway. We've had a good time. It's been fun," he said.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at

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