Zola the AWD Astro Van Needs a New Job

Wren on January 14th, 2011

additional pictures will be available soonThe time has come to sell the Heathcote Earthings business. While we prepare the inventory, tents, tables, covers and displays for listing, we’re selling our ever faithful Zola, the Earthings van separately.


Here’s our craigslist text, with a link to the ad at the bottom:

RARE FIND! An All-Wheel Drive Cargo Van with Low Miles!

95 Chevy Astro Cargo Van, good condition. AWD, roof rack, some shelving, well maintained. LOW MILES: 97, 326.

Brand new tires have less than 100 mi. Includes new full-sized spare. Has a few minor rusting areas and peeling paint, appropriate for a ‘95.

We have loved this workhorse van, which we used (lightly) to transport tents, tables & inventory to monthly festivals. Getting out of the business for health reasons. “Zola” the van must move on to her next occupation.

Selling for blue book value, $2970. More recent photos coming soon.

Located in North Baltimore County area, between Maryland Line & Freeland. 20 mins from Hunt Valley MD and York PA.

write via craigslist or call, 410-458-2310. Call between 9 am and 9 pm.


***UPDATE***We’ve had a few interested parties, but the van is still available!

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Taking the Elements Personally

Wren on April 29th, 2010

“At least it’s not rain; a high wind is fine with me,” I said to Fairie Festival organizer BiBi. Famous last words. Half an hour later, after four fairie volunteers had helped me wrangle/wring/wizard my three EZUp canopies open and into place, a very focused gust of wind tossed tent number three over my van and down the hill, as I was scrambling to stake tent one. Number three lay planted, like an evil, mangled flower, upside down in the middle of the field. I’m thinking insurance claim.

“At least it’s not rain,” I had said, because last year’s Fairie Festival was epically tragic. I had planned to make the most of the weekend, hiring five helpers, renting four spaces and ordering tons of fair trade instruments and handicrafts, fun lefty buttons and bumper stickers, scarves, hats and handmade batiks. The Fairie Festival is always good to us, usually our best show of the year, bringing us the income early in the season to pay our booth rentals for the rest of the season. So I wanted to make the most of the convergence of Heathcote Earthings’ wares with our core customer base (winged people).

But an outdoor festival in the spring is a roll of the dice. And although I bet the house, last year was not my (or anyone’s) year. A steady, heavy rain for the entire festival cut attendance to a fraction and left most of our inventory ruined. The five helpers got paid but there was no surplus to cover booth fees for the rest of the season.

Sunday night after the public had gone home, vendors, volunteers, organizers and Spoutwood farm residents gathered for dinner under tents. I could tell that the rain was as devastating to Spoutwood owners Rob and Lucy Wood, and to their programs as it was to me and mine. They, too, depend on this weekend each year to finance much of their educational work. The hundred or so people at that dinner were shell shocked and grim as organizers gave speeches thanking everyone and encouraging positive thoughts. I was warmed by sentiments expressed, that nature gives and nature takes; we were due for a year like this after many blessed ones; we would all land on our feet. Wren always does, but not Heathcote Earthings. That was the beginning of the end for this project.

We couldn’t even pack up at the end as it continued to rain. My partner Iuval and I came back the next day. Still raining. We put the mess in the van and headed for Heathcote. I was thinking…insurance claim!

So a couple days later, when the skies seemed like they’d had their say, I put up my canopies on the Heathcote playground to spread things out, dry them, see what could be saved and what would be written off. Ha! This was the move the rain was waiting for. It returned, and with the ground already saturated, the Heathcote valley, yes, including the streamside playground, flooded.

The Community was at dinner on the mill’s side porch. Someone mentioned that the flood waters were nearing my tents. “Oh I’m not worried. I have all the boxes up on tables,” I said, as we began to see hackey sacks and maracas floating by. Water laughs at me, “You should be writing, you fool! What are you doing playing with all these toys? I’m giving them to the bay so you won’t be burdened and distracted!”

But I wasn’t listening so Heathcoters were suddenly gone from their plates, knee deep in flood waters, carrying crates, boxes and displays to higher ground.

The five elements, water, air, fire, earth and spirit, can each be a blessing or a curse in different amounts and different moments. I realize now that community is a sixth element, and I am so often blessed with just the right amount of it. How can I ever give back enough to these wonderful people who, time and time again, are there beside me in the flood waters of my life? It is my joy to try.

So, I don’t know how many handmade, fair trade, seed filled hackey sacks are bobbing around the Chesapeake Bay because of me, but they’re biodegradable. At least I wasn’t stocked to the gills with those plastic dryer balls that reduce your drying time by forty percent. That would be ecologically unfortunate.

Now, as I set up my wares under a tent that looks like a giant bent, arthritic insect, I ponder my future. My associates and I have been on a slow track to closing out Heathcote Earthings to focus on writing projects such as the Hippie Chick Diaries book. The rain and the wind are just manifestations of my own inner Baba Yaga, torturing me, yes, but for the purpose of revealing my true potential to me. Let’s make this year a wonderful, and final year for Heathcote Earthings! See you  there!


Spoutwood Farm Center Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Educational Farm
4255 Pierceville Rd. Glen Rock, PA 17327 717-235-6610

Visit the Facebook Group page for the 2010 May Day Fairie Festival

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Pewter Party

Wren on March 2nd, 2010

Here are just some of the shinies I’m preparing to sell online. These are not my creations, but an excellent collection of lead safe diamond etched pewter, mostly from Oregon. My own designs to follow!

We bring these and more to our festival appearances around the Mid Atlantic region. Watch the site’s Heathcote Earthings page for our upcoming dates!

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Cecil County Fair

Wren on July 16th, 2008

I’m putting down stakes, so to speak, in Elkton, Maryland for the 2008 Cecil County Fair. This is Heathcote Earthings’ first year at this event, which has drawn 90,000 people in the past!

While I was hanging up our batiks and necklace branches today in the Commercial Building, the Deggeller carnies were assembling the midway rides and food vendors where setting up just a few feet away.

(The fairs don’t tend to be too vegetarian friendly. I’m cooking some quinoa-based dishes in advance.)

We’ve been buying for the summer–instruments, strands of beads for jewelry, bumper stickers, buttons and frog mating calls! We’re expanding our Gypsy Rose collection, adding hats (tams and applejacks) as an experiment. If headwear goes well, we may carry the Gypsy Rose clothing line!

We’re also stocking up on our highly popular gemstone heart pendants and our line of diamond etched pewter pendants–dragons, wolves, dolphins, turtles, frogs, fairies, eagles, horses, bears, butterflies, cats, owls, geckos, unicorns and more! Most are made in America and several are lead free!

So gussy up that prize pig and come on down! This is the first of five state or county fairs that we’ll do–in a row:


Fri, Jul 18-Sat, Jul 26, 2008

Fair Hill Fairgrounds, Route 273, Elkton, MD 21921



Sat, Aug 2-Sat, Aug 9, 2008

2210 Fairground Road, West Friendship, MD 21794



Fri, Aug 22-Mon, Sept 1, 2008

Timonium Fairgrounds, Exhibition Hall, Timonium, MD

www.marylandstatefair.com www.crystalcottage.com


Fri, Sept 5-Sun, Sept 14, 2008

York Expo Center/Memorial Hall 334 Carlisle Avenue, York, PA 17404



Sat, Sept 20-Sat, Sept 27, 2008


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warm porcelains I don’t get sucked in anymore. I’m an old hand at this buyer thing and when I attend a trade show for Heathcote Earthings I work from a shopping list, visit only the vendors I plan in advance, stick to a budget and go home.

Yeah, I don’t believe me, either. But I try this every time. The promoter Intergem puts on its International Gem and Jewelry Show all over the country throughout the year. In my region, the really BIG trade show is in Chantilly, Virginia, the next one there being in December, when my festival season is already over. So to get well stocked for my summer (including five county or state fairs) I decided to catch up with my favorite importers at the Timonium, Maryland show.

azurite-malachite donuts, malachite and azurite accents It is held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, where I set up for many shows each year, including the Kennedy-Krieger Festival of Trees, Maryland Brewers’ Oktoberfest, and the Maryland State Fair (with my friends at Crystal Cottage). Since I work there so often, it feels funny to visit as a buyer.

I arrived a half an hour early and a dozen people were ahead of me in line. Before the doors opened, the line behind stretched about a city block, and that was for one of two buildings the show occupied.

At each show there are two sales floors, one that’s public and one that’s wholesale only. On the public floor, some vendors price at retail levels but most sell at wholesale prices in both areas. If you’re a lapidary hobbyist, this is the way to go. If you’re willing to buy by the strand rather than by the bead, trade shows will beat the prices of your local bead or craft shop by a mile.

rhodochrosite focal and accent beads I met two women on the public floor who were there for the first time. They picked up a strand of huge grade-A turquoise that had its ends tied together. They admired the quality of the stone, even at the $250 per strand price tag. “But it would be so heavy around your neck,” one remarked, not realizing that the strings of beads she saw everywhere were strands of workable material, not finished necklaces!

I had two items at the top of my shopping list today–1) Buy thousands of gemstone heart pendants on sterling silver bails 2) Buy many strands of the multicolor “Hello Kitty” style lampwork glass cat head focal bead that sold so well after we tried it last time. You see no pictures of these items in this post because I came home without them. My importer of Chinese lampwork glass might have the “Hello Kitties” back in a couple of weeks. And I placed a large order for the gemstone heart pendants. I love this product because the quality has been consistently high. The sterling silver bails almost never fail. I have a few stones in stock now and will have my new order in by the Cecil County Fair.

boldly shaped agates are the new trend While I was not buying those, I did discover an exciting new trend in agate beads. Manufacturers are cutting dyed and natural agate into stunning, unexpected shapes. In the photo to the right, notice the flat squares, circles and twists. These and the huge funky wavy donuts really reveal the marvelous diversity of this stone–its colors. mottling and banding! Click on each picture for a more detailed view and description of the beads and my plans for them!

The first photo in this post showcases several strands of porcelain beads I was pleased to find. The warm colors and mottled finishes cause these to be mistaken for stone.

red coral fossil focals, gold and red tigereye accents Being one of the first through the door, I had a great selection and was able to put together several sets this time, pairing large focal beads with matching accent beads for earrings. This combo pictured to the left is a fun one. We’d had fossilized coral beads before. But these have been rinsed in red minerals to bring out the detail of the fossil. I found strands of gold and red tigereye for earrings and I like the compliment of the two-tone tigereye to the red washed coral.

Although we don’t carry coral or pearls or other animal products, we do carry fossils. I was very tempted to pick up several large trilobites I saw…

earthy marbled glass I also added to our cloisonne collection with dolphins and a strand with a moon and stars motif. And I expanded our selection of painted and marblized glass beads. I just love these painted glass and always pick out a few for my own personal collection!

The sky blue heart bead, in the picture to the right, has stunning marble brown on it, in delicately laid strokes that seem to suggest tumbling human forms falling around each bead! I can’t wait to see how my customers like them.

I’ll have a few of all of these made up for Common Ground on the Hill, a wonderful roots music festival I look forward to every year. It takes place at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, Maryland, July 12-13. They showcase a variety of traditional forms of music, rotating on several stages around the grassy, treelined grounds. Tom Paxton is one of the headliners this year. This festival is vegetarian and vegan friendly, with lots of satisfying food choices. The event also attracts find artisans and several nice clothing vendors. I usually by some hippie duds there each year.

By the time of the Cecil County Fair, July 18-26, I’ll have made lots of earrings and pendants out of today’s finds. I’ll also have them along for the Howard County Fair. The special feature of that fair is that we set up a huge discount area and focus on closeouts there, making room for new inventory we order for the York Fair and Bloomsburg Fair.

My one regret, as I wrap up writing about this gem show, is that the items I buy there are all in the “free trade” economy. I regularly meet festival vendors who travel the world, trading directly with artisans and importing the goods for their booths themselves. I’m a homebody; I don’t travel. I buy from “fair trade” vendors as much as possible. At Heathcote Earthings, our standard is that a product must be fair trade and/OR be made of natural or recycled material. For this definition we consider glass, metals and ceramics in our jewelry “natural.” Other than dryer balls, which cut clothes drying time by 40%, saving on utilites, we carry no plastic and don’t provide plastic bags. So as I go from table to table, booth to booth, discerning quality from crap in my choices, I have no information about the chain of possession of these crafts, and whether slavery or child labor was involved. I can’t find out the environmental or labor record of the factory.

Once the strands are at home with me, I know I do good settings and make lasting pendants and earrings. I know I’m a fair alternative to “Mall Wart: your source for cheap, plastic crap,” as the bumper sticker goes. And I realize that people are drawn to the natural beauty of polished stones and art glass, as I am, while we all seek to repair our lost connection with the land itself and the energy that many believe flows through those stones we instinctively want to carry around.

I often notice that people gasp and lose their language for a few moments when they walk up to my booth and start to run their hands across a table full of tumbled stones, in every imaginable color. Even though I know these stones are mined like coal, I think it’s important for us, trapped in our bubble of urban civilization, to reconnect with something primordial–the magic of stones and, by extension, the magic of the Earth! For people of all ages and walks of life who start running their fingers through the stones like water, it seems a step in remembering something lost. Maybe, ironically, if we remember the beauty of the earth, even by possessing something torn from it, we’ll remember a humbler, less materialistic path. Maybe my stones of unknown origin help someone learn to be part of the Earth, rather than having dominion over it.

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