Fall Marketplace event is Thursday

WORTHINGTON -- If you detect a certain Southwestern flair in the jewelry designed by artisans Gail Gruis and Mavis Waltjer, you're definitely on to something.

Mavis Waltjer
Jewelry designer Mavis Waltjer, Worthington, shows off some of the fine jewelry items she will offer as part of Thursday's Historic Dayton House fundraiser Tuesday afternoon at her home.

WORTHINGTON -- If you detect a certain Southwestern flair in the jewelry designed by artisans Gail Gruis and Mavis Waltjer, you're definitely on to something.

Both Gruis, of Fulda, and Waltjer, a Worthington native, developed their taste for creating fine jewelry during winters spent in Arizona, and neither woman is about to give up their creative pursuits anytime soon.

"In Arizona, I'm probably in the glass shop at the park where I stay at least five days a week, six hours a day," shared Gruis, whose specialty is jewelry, dishes and sun-catchers made of fused glass. "I can start working on a project and the hours just fly by.

"It's a real stress-release thing for me."

While based in Surprise, Ariz., six months of the year, Waltjer first hunts and gathers precious metals and gemstones on trips to Tucson and Albuquerque in preparation for using them to design necklaces, bracelets and earrings.


"The Southwest is great for findings," opined Waltjer, who has about three shows of her work each year in metropolitan Phoenix. "I love turquoise, which seems to be more popular in the southwest than it is up here."

Southwest Minnesotans will have their chance to peruse and buy items made by Waltjer and Gruis, along with those of 14 other area artisans and vendors, from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the fourth annual Fall Marketplace event benefiting Worthington's Historic Dayton House.

Hosted in past years at the Dayton House, the Fall Marketplace shopping experience will move a block down Fourth Avenue to First Lutheran Church's fellowship hall, due to the overwhelming success of last year's event.

"We had a terrific turn-out, but we wanted to give attendees a little more elbow room for shopping," explained Judi Hoevet, a co-chair of the Dayton House's Tours and Events Committee, which sponsors the event. "Plus, we've expanded the hours to give people greater flexibility."

The Dayton House retains a prominent role in the event, with complimentary dessert and coffee to be served there for the event's duration. Attendees' hands will be stamped, so they are welcome to shop and enjoy dessert at their leisure.

"The $5 entrance fee goes to support the Dayton House, which is a private, self-sustaining entity," added Hoevet's co-chair, Jan Lowe.

Besides handcrafted and vintage jewelry, items for sale include handmade cards, watercolor paintings, woodenware, purses, alpaca wraps, wrought iron accessories, pottery, garden décor, gourds, pumpkins and ornamental corn. In addition, orders may be placed for boxes of frozen meatballs and tempura shrimp.

Also available will be Dayton House-themed options, such as note cards and gift certificates for Tuesday morning coffees, Valentine's Day dinners, overnight stays in the luxuriously appointed guest suites and Dayton House memberships.


"I think it's a good time to get a head-start on some Christmas shopping," suggested Hoevet.

Preparation for such an event begins up to a year earlier, when artisans like Waltjer and Gruis take to their kilns and flex their artistic muscle.

Gruis, now semi-retired, drives a tender truck for New Vision Co-op in the spring and fall. She first took a glass-crafting class at Lee's Frame and Craft a few years ago and has been experimenting on her own ever since.

"Every time you fire something, it comes out differently," said Gruis, who relishes incorporating nature-themed elements into the stained glass pictures and decorative sun-catchers she shapes. "It's basically a one-of-a-kind creation every time."

Waltjer's work is similarly unique.

"I was first invited to do a show in Arizona when someone noticed a piece of jewelry I'd made and was wearing," offered Waltjer. "Now I have customers there who will come to me with a specific outfit they want me to design something for, or they'll ask me to make a special gift for someone else.

"Each piece is different, so, as a rule, nobody else will have one just like it."

Waltjer's husband, Harley, has joined her in the hobby, although he prefers fashioning platters and casseroles out of clay and crafting sterling silver chains in Byzantine design.


"The sterling silver pieces are higher priced, but they are also high-quality jewelry that's forever," commented Waltjer.

Aside from her pleasure at showing -- and, she hopes, selling -- her handcrafted items to the hometown crowd, Waltjer is motivated to participate in the Fall Marketplace because of its tie to the Dayton House.

"I grew up on Fifth Avenue across from Central Elementary, and when I was in high school and the Dayton House was still a nursing home, I worked there setting meal trays and doing dishes," remarked Waltjer, who bemoans the loss of her old school, the Carnegie Library and the former courthouse.

"The support and exposure this event generates for the Dayton House are among the reasons I agreed to do it in the first place," continued Waltjer. "We're privileged to have the Dayton House in its restored condition, and as a community, we need to support it.

"It's one of the finer things left in Worthington."

Fall Marketplace is scheduled for 2-8 p.m. Thursday, with shopping at First Lutheran Church's fellowship hall (corner of Fourth Avenue and 12th Street) and dessert and coffee at the Historic Dayton House (1311 Fourth Ave.). There is an admission fee. Call 507-727-1311 for more information.

What To Read Next
Get Local