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'Addicted' Millers Island Artists Set for Sugarloaf Festival

Ray and Sue Binetti will have 200 to 300 stained glass pieces for sale at the crafts show this weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

Millers Island residents Ray and Sue Binetti admit to being addicted to the craft of stained glass.

The now retired school teachers took a stained glass class in 1974 just to have a hobby that would allow them to unwind from the stresses of the classroom.

"One thing led to another," the couple said in unison, and the hobby now plays a big part in their lives.

The couple is getting ready to exhibit at the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival at Maryland State Fairgrounds this weekend, and they've been busy all summer creating glass pieces to sell on the fall crafts show circuit.

After taking that first class in 1974, they started participating in craft shows the following year. They were among the crafters for the inaugural Heritage Fair in 1976 and started exhibiting at Sugarloaf productions in 1977.

"We do fall and spring craft shows, and then build our inventory during the winter and summer," Ray Binetti said.

The couple lives in the Hinton Road house that Ray grew up in.

"We bought this house from his parents," Sue Binetti said.

A mudroom entrance is heavily decorated with stained glass examples, and the door and the transom above it have panels created by the artists.

They anticipate packing up between 200 and 300 hundred pieces to take to the Timonium show. Their work includes suncatchers, rings (wreath-like pieces), lamps and panels.

The economy has been hard on the crafters, with people having less money to spend on nonessential items.

"We don't sell too many lamps at this point," Sue said. "Most of the lamps are coming from China, and people can buy them in stores much cheaper than we charge for ours."

In past years, the couple could sell 25 to 30 lamps at any given show, with prices that range from $75 to $500.

Since the recession really took hold, they are lucky to sell two.

Items that are priced from $70 or less sell well, according to Sue: "People won't spend much more than that these days."

With sales down and craft show registration fees on the rise, Ray and Sue have had to become more selective in the shows in which they participate.

"We do all of the Sugarloaf shows because we're pleased with the job they do," Ray said. "They're great promoters, and we've been doing Sugarloaf for so long, people have become almost like family."

He includes customers and fellow crafters in that extended family.

"We have many repeat customers who come back year after year, and we've watched their children grow up," Ray said. "Folks will come to the booth, and even if they don't buy anything, we talk for a half-hour."

"And some of the crafters are our best friends," Sue said.

Event Details:

What: Sugarloaf Crafts Festival
When: Friday, Oct. 5 through Sunday, Oct. 7
Times: Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission (valid all three days)
Adults: $8 online; $10 at the door
Children under 12: Free
Parking: Free

More than 250 artists will set up shop at the show. Visitors can expect an array of sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, wood, metal, furniture, home accessories, photography and fine art.

Master craftspeople will demonstrate their creative processes in iron forging, papermaking, stone sculpting and other media.

Live music, entertainment for children and a variety of food vendors "make the festival a great destination for the entire family," event organizers said in a statement.

For more information, including driving directions and admission discounts, visit www.sugarloafcrafts.com or call (800) 210-9900.

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