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Colorful community crafts

Artesano Market Days gives platform to local artists and vendors

Kathleen Akey, in a denim vest she hand-painted with Texas bluebonnets, was part of the rainbow of colorful vendors found last weekend in Mission.

This past weekend, the Mission Historical Museum, along with the city and the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce, hosted several events celebrating Winter Texan visitors and residents. One of the events, the Artesano Market Days, has been an annual staple run by the museum in Mission.

Kathleen Akey poses with her “Bluebonnets in the Spring” collection of wares at the Artesano Market Days held last weekend. Progress Times photo by Jamie Treviño.

Held at the Mission Event Center, the market included artisan-made crafts, decor, toiletries, sweets and clothing. Vendors hailed from the United States and Mexico, highlighting the museum and city’s efforts to promote unity amongst the countries.

Akey, a permanent resident in Mission for six years, was one of the artisan vendors at the Market. The wares found at Kathleen’s Hand Painted China booth were part of her “Bluebonnets in the Spring’’ collection. Akey’s artisan goods included hand-painted porcelain heirlooms, jewelry, hats, tiles and clothing.

“It’s a very long process,” Akey said.

Hand-painting china is no easy task, according to Akey. The vivid bluebonnets came alive as she explained the process, which was developed over 2,000 years ago.

“You have to start out real light because it’s oil paint,” Akey said. “And then you fire it in a kiln.”

Once Akey has painted the china several times over, the porcelain is exposed to a heat of about 1,400 degrees. Akey encouraged all her buyers to treasure their purchases as they would a valued heirloom.

“They have three firings, each one of them,” Akey said. “That’s why this stuff is expensive, it’s china. It fires for three hours, then it has to cool for 24 hours, and then you can take it out and put it in.”

Akey has been hand-painting china since 1969, and this was the first year she has been part of the Artesano Market Days.

“I go to other craft sales throughout the area,” Akey said. “It’s supplementing my income; I’m retired, so this is what I do because I’m living on social security. It supplements everything.”

Akey knew that when she retired, she would be moving to Texas. 

“I live right here in Mission, full-time,” Akey said. “I moved here six years ago from Wisconsin.”

Her parents retired in Mission 45 years ago, and when it was Akey’s time to move she found Mission to be the ideal place.

“I hadn’t been here for like 20 years,” Akey explained. “And when I came down after my husband passed away, I couldn’t believe it.”

Seeing the growth Mission has experienced in the last two decades inspired Akey to make the move to the RGV.

“I’ve always loved Texas, but then I saw everything that was here,” Akey said. “Within a ten mile radius it had everything I needed in my life. I love it, I stay all summer.”

This story was originally published in the Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 edition of the Progress Times. 

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